//Kenneth E. Hagin
WHEN CHRISTIANS get into the area of suffering, they get tangled up. Many think all suffering is the same. But when the Bible talks about suffering, it doesn't mean "sickness." Christians have no business suffering sickness and disease. Jesus redeemed us from that. A lot of times people who are sick say they are suffering for the Lord. No! They are not suffering for the Lord.
But the Bible does speak about things we will suffer.
1 PETER 2:19–21
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
Here is something we need to distinguish: the example of Christ in suffering and the substitution of Christ in suffering. We can follow His example in suffering, but not His substitution. In that He was taking our place.
First Peter 2:23 goes on to say, "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."
We suffer persecution like this too. People talk about us and criticize us. When Jesus was reviled or threatened by people, He didn't threaten them. He went right on. This is the example we should follow.
Philippians 2:7 shows us what Jesus suffered: "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Think about what this cost Him.
Scripture says that Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb. 5:8). He was already obedient to the cross. He didn't learn that. He was already obedient to come and do His Father's will. But He was made perfect through the things He suffered.
Hebrews 2:18 tells us Jesus suffered temptation: "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." WHENEVER WE ARE TEMPTED, JESUS IS ABLE TO HELP US, because He was tempted in all points as we are (Heb. 4:15).
In Acts 9:16 the Lord says about the Apostle Paul, "I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Paul, however, didn't suffer sickness and disease. That's where people get mixed up. What did he suffer? We find the answer in the following verses.
2 CORINTHIANS 11:24–27
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often . . . in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
We can see that Paul did not suffer with pneumonia, a bad cold, or the flu. If we suffer like Paul suffered, we will suffer persecution and all those things that go with it!
Some people have the idea that they are going to sail through life and everything is going to be "hunky-dory." They think they'll never have any trials, tests, or suffering of any kind. Then somebody rises up and says something about them and they're ready to quit.
We're going to have persecution. Jesus said in John 16:33, "THESE THINGS I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU, THAT IN ME YE MIGHT HAVE PEACE. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
We have to suffer through some of these things. Remember that Christ was made perfect through the things He suffered. The Greek word translated "perfect" also means "mature." Christ was made perfect or reached maturity. Whether we like it or not, these are the things that mature us.
[Editor's Note: This article was adapted from the book Must Christians Suffer? by Kenneth E. Hagin.]