Suffering and the Christian Life

When you stop to think about it, all of life, if it is lived earnestly by faith in the pursuit of God’s glory and the salvation of others, is like the Christian who goes to the disease-ridden village. The suffering that comes is part of the price of living where you are in obedience to the call of God. In choosing to follow Christ in the way He directs, we choose all that his path includes under His sovereign providence. Thus, all suffering that comes in the path of obedience is suffering with Christ and for Christ—whether it is cancer or conflict. And it is “chosen”—that is, we willingly take the path of obedience where the suffering befalls us, and we do not murmur against God. We may pray—as Paul did—that suffering be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8); but if God wills, we embrace it in the end as part of the cost of discipleship in the path of obedience on the way to heaven.

All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness or accident, have this in common: They all threaten our faith in the goodness of God and tempt us to leave the path of obedience. Therefore, every triumph of faith and all perseverance in obedience are testimonies to the goodness of God and the preciousness of Christ—whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin, or sabotage.

Therefore, all suffering, of every kind, that we endure in the path of our Christian calling is suffering “with Christ” and “for Christ.” With Him in the sense that the suffering comes to us as we are walking with Him by faith and in the sense that it is endured in the strength He supplies through his sympathizing high-priestly ministry (Hebrews 4:15) and For Him in the sense that the suffering test and proves our allegiance to his goodness and power and in the sense that it reveals His worth as an all-sufficient compensation and prize.

– John Piper, from Desiring God

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