In this essay I am going to address - and endeavor to bring about a greater measure of clarity and SANE understanding - one of the MOST (I believe) misunderstood and abused areas within the Christian Faith -- that of SUFFERING.
During the course of the last 2,000 years, within certain segments of Christendom, suffering has been elevated almost to the position of "forth member of the GodHead" -- as though suffering within itself had some slavic, redeeming power !!
This heresy has been GREATLY popularized and propagated by the Roman Catholic Organization through their "dark-age" monasteries - with their self-inflicted suffering (mental, emotional and physical) - monks, nuns and so-called "saints". For the record, biblical "saints" are NOT some extraordinary individuals set aside by "ecclesiastical decree" -- but rather, ALL born again, spirit filled Christians are designated by scripture as "saints" !!
In my mind, the doctrine that states that it is, "the suffering of Christ that buys for us mercy from God" is one of the most heinous, diabolical, blasphemous statements that I can conceive. It implies - no STATES - that God actually REQUIRED the payment in blood, agony, humiliation and suffering by His Son as the price, the currency, for our forgiveness and reconciliation !!
Perhaps it was from this very damnable doctrine that the Roman Catholic Organization derived the "selling of indulgences". After all, if the Heavenly Father could be induced to "sell" His forgiveness of us at the price of His Son's blood, why not be induced to sell it for our money ??
This is VASTLY different from the CORRECT doctrine that reveals that it was through the OBEDIENCE and the WARFARE of Christ, in defeating His and OUR spiritual enemies, that He achieved reconciliation for us with His and our Father and, "release to the captives, the regaining of sight to the blind, and the setting free those who are oppressed."
The major premise behind this essay is that there is NO intrinsic (belonging naturally, essential, inherent) value in suffering -- Per se -- neither for Jesus Christ Himself NOR for His followers. It does NOT make men (or women) more holy or more righteous, it does NOT qualify them as "saints", it most certainly does NOT elevate them to a higher position in God's estimation or within His so-called "kingdom", and it does absolutely nothing to rid man of his sinful condition.
If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence. **** Colossians 2:20-23
As a matter of fact, ALL that the warped, diabolical "doctrine of suffering" that I am going to endeavor to refute here ACTUALLY does is to exchange the relative positions of God and Satan. It portrays God as some "diabolical fiend" who not only enjoys and takes morbid delight in seeing His "only begotten Son" and the rest of His children being tormented and suffering, but who actually set up his creation in such a way that this would be the guaranteed outcome and result.
I pray that those of you who so eagerly embrace and propagate this doctrine do not have such a monster for an earthly father - or perhaps THAT is the problem - that you actually DO !!
As we examine the Scripture in order to try to gain understanding on this issue, we are immediately confronted by a new problem. If you unfortunately happen to be a reader of that "revered and infallible" version of the bible called the KJV, you will find that there are 117 instances of the word "suffer" or variants thereof, representing the translation of 29 different Greek words (see the end of the article for an exact breakout). No wonder there is massive confusion !!!
Allowing for maximum flexibility of translation, only about 59 instances (representing 7 Greek words) have ANYTHING at all to do with the concept of "suffering" as would be used in modern English.
The most common meaning perhaps in the English Versions of the Bible is "to permit," "to allow," "to give leave to" as referenced in G863 and G2010 (see end of article).
Other meanings include:
(1.) "To experience," "to go through," "to endure", as: "I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Mt 27:19). A woman "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mr 5:26).
Moving along to the heart of the issue, I AM NOT saying that Jesus Christ and His followers did not and will not suffer, for that would be clearly proved false by the most cursory reading of scripture. What I AM saying is that the sufferings were secondary and incidental - they were (and STILL are) the unfortunate (though necessary) results and byproducts of more primary causes.
Now what exactly do I mean by the above statement ?? Let us examine a couple of closely linked examples outside of the realm of "religion", where intelligence and logical thought seem to more frequently operate.
(1.) During wartime, men often (usually) "suffer" - meaning they experience physical and/or emotional pain (even to the point of death) - yet no SANE person would contend that the suffering, in and of itself, was the point of the war (wars are usually fought for some concrete reason) or that there was some laudatory merit attached to the suffering ITSELF. The suffering was the necessary (and unavoidable) byproduct of the process of WAR.
(2.) During physical training or training for sport competition, the human being often undergoes various degrees of physical (and mental) "suffering", often considerable suffering if they are not used to physical exertion or if the competition is of an extreme physical nature. However, only a deranged sadist would undergo this suffering "purely for the sake of the suffering" and anyone who HAS undergone such preparation certainly knows that there is NO merit in the suffering itself. It is the byproduct of the training process, as the mind and body utilize and bring into obedience slothful, flabby areas that have not been used and conditioned previously. For the more "out of condition" that you are, the greater is going to be the "suffering".
Now the Bible DOES explicitly (and implicitly) state that we are involved BOTH in warfare (with Satan and his demonic army) and in a training endeavor where we are being trained and prepared for a great challenge and reward. If you are one of these modern, sadly deluded souls who have been sated by the "preachers of ease, success and prosperity", then you are going to have a VERY hard time being a TRUE disciple of Christ, for He HAS warned us that, "the road which the Master has traveled will be the one that his followers (disciples) will needs trod."
So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well. Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one in military service gets entangled in matters of everyday life; otherwise he will not please the one who recruited him. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he will not be crowned as the winner unless he competes according to the rules. **** 2 Timothy 2:1-5
Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified. **** 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
I am going to divide and attribute the sufferings of Christ (and indirectly of His followers) to two primary causes and/or sources:
Among whom the god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, **** 2 Corinthians 4:4
The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. When this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. **** Hebrew 1:3; 10:12,13
(2.) His battle with the fallen, rebellious, renegade, sinful human nature as He did battle to bring it once more into submission to His Father and His Spirit. Likewise, His battle with the corrupt social, "world system", saturated and dominated by sin and evil.
During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered. And by being perfected in this way, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, and he was designated by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek. **** Hebrews 5:7-10
So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires. For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries. So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. **** 1 Peter 4:1-4
Now, these are the SAME two primary sources that result in the suffering of Christians today. There may be other secondary sources, like natural disasters and accidents, but they affect ALL of mankind, and I am not going to consider them here.
There are numerous reasons WHY a person might be enamored with the concept of suffering. It may sound strange to a non-Christian (and to some Christians) to hear that there are those who actually consider suffering to be something DESIRABLE and admirable, but religion can create VERY warped manifestations in our minds and emotions.
(1.) The first reason that I am going to state, and not address any further, is actually common to non-Christian and Christian alike. There are those who are drawn to suffering because they are mentally imbalanced - in other words, they have a mental and/or spiritual disease - and are in need of healing and/or deliverance !! They may even believe that they are so wicked and corrupted that they DESERVE nothing better than suffering, and that maybe God will come to love and/or forgive them if they suffer long and severely enough !!! They may also be under demonic attack and/or subject to demonic "strongholds".
(2.) The second reason is perhaps the most prevalent among various groups of Christians. It is one of the MOST pervasive lies of Satan as well as one of the most tragic errors in doctrine. It has sought to corrupt the Church of Christ and to rob His followers of their proper inheritance almost since the day His ascension. This "corruption of the faith" is called a "works of the Law mentality" or SELF-RIGHTEOUS. It has sought to undermine the TRUE Gospel since the days of the Apostle Paul.
I can testify that they (Jews) are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth. For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes. **** Romans 10:2-4
No one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness. Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man (the) many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man (the) many will be made righteous. **** Romans 3:20-24; 4:4,5; 5:18,19
We know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. By the works of the law no one will be justified. If righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe. **** Galatians 2:16,21; 3:21,22
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all! And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace! For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love. Now, brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those agitators would go so far as to castrate themselves! For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! **** Galatians 5:1-6,11,12; 6:15
It REFUSES to believe and accept, as FACT, that Jesus Christ has ALREADY achieved the victory over Satan and his host - that He has ALREADY redeemed us by HIS Battle, Faith and Sacrifice - and that as a result of these, we have ALREADY been declared acceptable (JUSTIFIED) and righteous (in RIGHT standing before God, our Father). Jesus Christ, by HIS ONE sacrifice of suffering, has put away Sin for ALL time. They insist on believing that THEY must provide their OWN suffering -- that THEY THEMSELVES must pay the price of atonement for their own sins. The reality, according to the Bible, is that we neither CAN nor NEED to pay a price of suffering so as to be cleansed and forgiven by our heavenly Father -- WE ALREADY ARE. We are ALREADY declared (by God) to be "Saints and Holy" !!!
When he (Jesus) had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. When he says, "Sacrifices and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them" (which are offered according to the law), then he says, "Here I am: I have come to do your will." He does away with the first to establish the second. By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. **** Hebrews 1:3; 10:8-14
Now, at this point, I would like to inject one observation into our discussion, least someone might seek to invalidate my argument by insisting that, "Ah YES, but Paul (in his letters) was speaking about the JEWISH religious Law contained in the 10 Commandments and detailed in the Book of Leviticus, and regarding the act of circumcision as a token of submission unto this Law."
Technically, this point is quite correct. However, it is the MENTALITY of those about whom Paul was speaking that is the point here. Their "point of mind" was the assertion that "Christ and His sacrifice were NOT sufficient - they were NOT enough - to satisfy God fully and TOTALLY, and to procure, in and of themselves, our salvation and justification with God" !! They felt that something of HUMAN effort and achievement must be added -- that God's "naked Grace" must be clothed with human works.
Essentially, what they wanted THEN is the same as what men (and women) want today - they wanted something of their OWN achievement added into the formula, that they might stand before God and boast of what THEY had contributed !!! As a character in one of C.S. Lewis' essays said upon being offered entrance into heaven, "I don't want no one's blooming charity. I worked for what I got all of my life, and I don't need no one to give me nothing now. All that I wants is what is rightfully mine, what I bloody well worked for, and what I rightly deserves" !!!!!!
Thank God (literally) that He DOESN'T give us "what we rightly deserves", but gives to each of us instead unmerited and boundless love, grace and forgiveness !!
(3.) Finally we come to the third group, even more insidious and diabolical than the first two. This group of people believe that the "flesh" or the "sinful nature" is so insidious, so depraved, so open to rebellion and infiltration by evil forces, that it has to be constantly and mercilessly beaten down, subdued, demeaned and maintained under the most rigid strictness of suppression, by any and all means possible. In their mind, the more severe the measures the better -- for they REALLY believe that (self-inflicted) suffering is the "road to holiness", and that the more that you suffer the holier that you are and will become.
NOW, make NO mistake about this point !! What I just said about the "flesh" or the "sinful nature" is, IN FACT, true !! I want to stress that what IS NOT true is the idea that we, by ANY form of self-inflicted suffering or religious ritual, can do ANYTHING to redeam or reform it. If we have been truly "born again" by the Holy Spirit, our "old man" was put to death with Christ upon that same cross. ANY attempt on our part to subdue this "old man" ONLY results in making him stronger (Colossians 2:16-23).
We have been given a NEW "heart" and a NEW "life source". As the Apostle Paul states:
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. **** Galatians 2:20
Belonging to this school are the ascetics of the Easten religions; the "monastics" (including nuns and monks) of the Roman Catholic and similar-minded organizations; and the extreme, legalistic, severe sects of Protestantism. Among the latter are those groups and sects that cut themselves off from the main stream of society in an attempt to isolate themselves (physically, mentally and spiritually) from the "contaminating effects" of normal life. They would denounce ALL physical and emotional pleasure, enjoyment and/or entertainment as being sinful and "instruments of the devil". They would take the Apostle Paul's words, "I subdue my body and make it my slave" literally, meaning to go so far as actual, self-inflicted scourging and subjection to pain as a tool to overcome the "working of the sinful nature" and to purge themselves of "sin".
There are also those deranged individuals who sincerely believe that they are called to LITERALLY "enter into the sufferings of Christ", to be "partakers of His suffering", to "suffer as He suffered" and to "fill up the measure of His suffering". Now true, there ARE scripture verses which, wrested out of the context of the ENTIRE Bible, COULD be interpreted to teach such things. This is how ALL false and perverse doctrines have their origin, by selected scriptures being taken individually to teach what the ENTIRE Bible DOES NOT !!
I am going to cover this last point in depth shortly, but here I will only say that there WAS a suffering which ONLY Christ Himself could fulfill and that it has been COMPLETED by Him !! It is FINISHED and we can add NOTHING further to it. It is THIS mentality that I spoke of earlier -- that would say that the work of Christ on the cross was NOT finished and sufficient to achieve its stated end (the FULL salvation of mankind), but that WE must add some human contribution to it for its FULL effectiveness to be realized.
The Apostle Paul speaks explicitly of such individuals in his letters, explaining that such practices, rather than leading to holiness and conformity to Christ, instead "they in reality result in fleshly indulgence". Is it not also amazing that the largest of the modern day "christian sects" (the "Holy Roman Organization") -- claiming to be the "ONLY true Church of Jesus Christ" -- is and has been guilty of ALL of the abhorrences detailed by Paul !!
Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days – these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ! Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God. If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence. **** Colossians 2:16-23
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. They will prohibit marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified by God's word and by prayer. ***** 1 Timothy 4:1-5
These TWO "strongholds of Satan in the mind" are responsible for ALL of the legalistic atrocities of the Roman Catholic Organization over the last 2,000 years, as well as within the ultra-legalistic offshoots of Protestantism. Despite the STRONG and pointed warnings that the Apostle Paul wrote in his letters, warning against the manifestations of this curse, it has continued to desecrate the Christian Faith and Church, and to bring untold suffering, delusion and deception upon millions of those who would follow Christ -- as well as to make a mockery of His Church and His Salvation in the eyes of those for whom He died - the LOST of this WORLD !!
In closing, I am going to discuss points which COULD be taken as being contradictory to what I have just written. Therefore, pay close attention and read CAREFULLY what follows !!
I started this essay by stating that there were TWO primary "roads of suffering" down which BOTH Christ AND His followers must tread. The first was in the defeat of Satan and his demonic horde and the second is in the translation of us "rebellious human creatures" into "Sons of the Living God, partakers of the divine nature, transformed according the Image of Christ".
The major portion of CHRIST'S suffering was the result of this spiritual battle, both as assaults DIRECTLY from the "forces of darkness", as well as from their human dupes and servants -- even up to the point of the cross (the crucifixion). It is THIS suffering which Christ endured as He accomplished the DEFEAT of Satan which I stated was unique to Christ, and that we as the church have no part in since it is finished and accomplished !!
Our part in this suffering, which we ARE called upon to endure, is as part of Christ's army. We WILL be attacked by these enemy forces as He continues His "cleanup operation" until the "end of the age", when ultimately, Satan and his forces (his host) will be COMPLETELY eradicated from God's creation.
It is a "sad but true" condition, which we as Christians are going to have to acknowledge and deal with, that since Satan is the "god of this age (world system)", and this system and its inhabitants function under his power, that VERY often much of our suffering is going to be at the hands of those people about us (even our family) as the Holy Spirit within us comes into conflict with the "spirit of this world".
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one **** 1 John 5:19
Many may see and/or sense that we are somehow "different" from them. We do not enter into their "worldly" (often corrupt) lifestyle nor do we share their way of thinking or "world view".
Others may perhaps be convicted of their own sinfulness and/or wickedness as they observe our love of God and our holy and righteous lives -- as they perceive "the Spirit of God" working through us. We are the "bearers (containers) of God's Light". Through us it should irradiate the world and, in so doing, it should expose (bring to the Light) the "workings of wickedness (of the wicked one)".
Still others may persecute us because they themselves hate God and hate anyone or anything associated with Him. They will often be motivated toward this end (as they were against Christ Himself) by Satan and his "workers of iniquity (BOTH human and spiritual)".
Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.
If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Remember what I told you, "A slave is not greater than his master." If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. Now this happened to fulfill the word that is written in their law, "They hated me (Jesus) without reason." **** John 3:19-21;15:18-20,25
I want to inject one word of STRONG warning at this point, that I will expand upon later in the article !!
It IS a biblical FACT that we WILL be persecuted on account of Christ and His Kingdom, and for functioning as His ambassadors.
However, MANY have gone astray in their thinking, and have attributed THEIR persecution to the "cause of Christ", when in reality, it was due SOLELY to their ungodly lives and obnoxious personality !!
The second source of OUR suffering, as it was of Jesus Himself, is in our growing to maturity and learning obedience to God and His Holy Spirit. As I stated at the beginning of this article, we are in training for a great purpose and calling. We are being changed and perfected, we are being transformed, and YES, we are sometimes being "chastised by our Heavenly Father as Son's" as we are moved along from immature childishness toward full maturity.
During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered. And by being perfected in this way
Have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? "My son, do not scorn the Lord's discipline or give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts." Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. **** Hebrews 5:7-9; 12:5-11
In conclusion, I pray to God that I have been able to bring a measure of Light, Clarity and Understanding to this VERY confused (in the eyes of MANY Christians) and seemingly contradictory topic of "Suffering".
I have endeavored to show that we ARE NOT called in ANY way to create or add to our own suffering. As we follow Christ as TRUE Disciples, there will be ample, unsolicited suffering to go around from the two sources that I have just enumerated. Nor are we called to choose or manufacture our OWN "cross". It is the "cross of Christ" that we are called to bear, and He will choice for us and reveal to us the exact nature of that part which WE have been called to participate in. Just as in an earthly war, different soldiers have different functions, so too is it in this "spiritual battle".
Neither is suffering an indication that "God hates us"; that we are evil, wicked beings; or that we are being repaid for some tremendous wrong that we have committed against God, against one or more persons, or against "the universe". The closest that scripture comes to this concept is, as mentioned above, that God WILL chastise us as needed. Also, we ARE subject to God's "Universal Laws", Christian or non Christian. If we choose to live a life of sin and debauchery, we WILL suffer the consequences within our being (spiritual, mental, emotional and physical). If we break His physical laws, they will in turn "break" us -- i.e. jump off a 10 story building, run in front of a car, drive 100 mph down the highway, etc.
Sad to say, very often, the sufferings that many Christians claim that they are suffering "for the name of Christ", are in REALITY sufferings that they are enduring because of their sin, because their lives are NOT conformed to the Word and Will of God, or because they are simply acting and/or living in a rebellious, obnoxious manner !!
One of our GREAT difficulties today, unlike the early Church, is that WE ARE "astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you" !!
Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. **** 1 Peter 4:12-14
For this finds God's favor, if because of conscience toward God someone endures hardships in suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. **** 1 Peter 2:19-21; 3:14-17; 5:8-10
A great variety of Hebrew and Greek expressions, too large to be here enumerated, have been translated by "suffering" and other forms derived from the same verb. The most obvious meanings of the word are the following:
(1) The commonest meaning perhaps in the English Versions of the Bible is "to permit," "to allow," "to give leave to", as referenced in G863 and G2010: "Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away" (Mr 10:4).
(2) "To experience," "to go through,"' "to endure": "I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Mt 27:19). A woman "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mr 5:26). Other common phrases are "to suffer affliction" (1Thess 3:4; Heb 11:25, the Revised Version (British and American) "share ill-treatment"), "to suffer hardship" (2Ti 2:9), "to suffer adversity" (Heb 13:3 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "to be ill-treated"), "to suffer dishonor" (the King James Version "shame," Ac 5:41), "to suffer violence," (Mt 11:12), "to suffer wrong" (Ac 7:24), "to suffer terror" (Ps 88:15), "to suffer shipwreck" (2Co 11:25), "to suffer hunger" (Ps 34:10; Prov 19:15), "to suffer thirst" (Job 24:11).
(3) "To put up with," "to tolerate": the King James Version, "For you suffer fools gladly (the Revised Version (British and American) "you bear with the foolish gladly"), seeing you yourselves are wise" (2Cor 11:1; 2Cor 11:9).
(4) "To undergo punishment": "Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they have suffered these things?" (Lu 13:2).
(5) "To sustain loss": "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss" (1Co 3:15; also Php 3:8).
(6) "To suffer death." Here the clearest references are to the suffering or passion of Christ, which indeed includes the enduring of untold hardships and affliction, all of which culminate in His vicarious death for man (Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; Mark 9:12; Luke 9:22; Luke 17:25; Luke 22:15; Luke 24:26; Luke 24:46; Acts 3:18; Acts 17:3; Acts 26:23; 1Pet 3:18).
Suffering belongs to the discipline of all Christ's followers (Rom 8:17; 2Cor 1:7; Gal 3:4; Phil 3:10; 1Thess 2:2; 2Thess 1:5; 2Tim 2:12; 2Tim 3:12; Jas 5:10; 1Pet 2:20; 1Pet 3:14; 1Pet 3:17; 1Pet 4:1; 1Pet 4:13; 1Pet 4:16; 1Pet 5:10). Such suffering is called a suffering for God's or Christ's sake (Jer 15:15; Acts 9:16; Phil 1:29; 2Tim 1:12). This fellowship in suffering unites us with the saints of God in all times (Jas 5:10), and is indeed a fellowship with the Lord Himself (Php 3:10), who uses this discipline to mold us more and more according to His character.
G91 adikeo (ad-ee-keh'-o) v.
1. to be unjust
2. (actively) to do wrong (morally, socially or physically)
KJV: hurt, injure, be an offender, be unjust, (do, suffer, take) wrong
Acts 7:24 ,1Cor 6:7 ,2Cor 7:12
G430 anechomai (an-ekh'-om-ai) v.
G650 apostereo (ap-os-ter-eh'-o) v.
G818 atimazo (at-im-ad'-zo) v.
G863 aphiemi (af-ee'-ay-mee) v.
G971 biazo (bee-ad'-zo) v.
G1325 didomi (did'-o-mee) v.
G1377 dioko (dee-o'-ko) v.
G1439 eao (eh-ah'-o) v.
G2010 epitrepo (ep-ee-trep'-o) v.
G2210 zemioo (dzay-mee-oh'-o) v.
G2346 thlibo (thlee'-bo) v.
G2552 kakopatheia (kak-op-ath'-ei-ah) n.
G2553 kakopatheo (kak-op-ath-eh'-o) v.
G2558 kakoucheo (kak-ou-kheh'-o) v.
1. to maltreat
[from a presumed compound of G2556 and G2192]
KJV: which suffer adversity, torment
Root(s): G2556, G2192
G2967 koluo (ko-loo'-o) v.
G3114 makrothumeo (mak-roth-oo-meh'-o) v.
G3804 pathema (path'-ay-mah) n.
G3805 pathetos (path-ay-tos') adj.
G3958 pascho (pas'-kho) (including the forms patho path'-o, and pentho pen'-tho, used only in certain tenses for it) v.
G4310 propascho (prop-as'-kho) v.
G4330 proseao (pros-eh-ah'-o) v.
G4722 stego (steg'-o) v.
G4778 sugkakoucheo (soong-kak-ou-kheh'-o) v.
G4841 sumpascho (soom-pas'-kho) v.
G5159 tropophoreo (trop-of-or-eh'-o) v.
G5254 hupecho (hoop-ekh'-o) v.
G5278 hupomeno (hoop-om-en'-o) v.
G5302 hustereo (hoos-ter-eh'-o) v.