Earlier last week over on my Instagram @shelaughsmission I mentioned how I’d been learning a lot about Paul in school. I’m taking a class called Prison Epistles where we’re going through the letters that Paul wrote to churches from prison. It’s been super interesting so far and one thing has really stuck out to me and it has to do with suffering. A question that’s been asked of us a few times over the course of this semester is ‘How do you view your suffering?” Now, this might be an odd question to some. I mean how do most of us view our suffering? We hate it, we wish we didn’t have to go through it, and we pray that our suffering will be over as soon as possible, but not Paul. Paul saw it as an opportunity to grow, pray and praise, to identify with Christ, & to become closer to God. Now to give you some background the Jewish people believed that there would be a period of tribulation before the Messiah’s return. So Paul believed that he was even completing part of the Messianic sufferings before the return of Christ. His perspective was different it was on higher things, he believed there was a purpose in all of it. I really believe that we need to change our perspective when it comes to the hard things in our lives. We need to choose to look past the hardships and the sufferings and look to God. Try and find opportunities in these dark times to learn and grow. I wish we didn’t have to go through seasons that are hard, but I know from experience and also from Paul’s example it all works out. If our perspective is right we can look at some of the hardest times in our lives and be positive, maybe even help someone, & worship God because He’s good anyways. It boggles my mind to think Paul was in prison and while he was there he was lending a helping hand to other churches. How often do we sit and mope around during our tough seasons instead of looking for opportunities to do good? Studying about Paul and all he did while he was in prison really convicted me to shift my perspective when things are hard, to set my gaze on Christ and look for opportunities to grow and get closer to God. The last thing I want to leave you with is a few questions. How do you view suffering? Do you view it as something that inspires other believers? Do you view it as something that will improve your faith? Do you view it as an opportunity to identify with Jesus?
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
1 Peter 5:10
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.
1 Peter 3:14
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, & all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.