Sometimes it is God’s will that we suffer for his sake. He calls us to it. Afflictions are the present momentary destiny of every believer on their way to glory on the other side. Current trials prepare us for coming glory (2 Cor. 4:16–28). Suffering, and suffering well, form a calling granted to us. It is the Lord’s “assignment” for us. It is something that the Lord considers us worthy of (i.e., it is an honor bestowed upon us). It is the “will of God.” What does this say to me? The first take-home for me is to reject the popular notion that some hold that my suffering—whether it be via sickness or poverty or betrayal by others—is often or usually a sign of weak faith. That is fundamentally misguided.
A note from our Managing Editor: Tim Shorey, pastor and author, is one of our Gospel-Centered Discipleship staff writers. Tim is also currently battling stage 4 prostate cancer. On Facebook and CaringBridge, he’s writing about his journey. We’re including some of his posts in a series on our website called “The Potter’s Clay: Faith Reflections from a Cancer Oven.” To preserve the feel of a daily journal rather than a published work, we have chosen not to submit these reflections to a rigorous editing process.
You can read all the posts in this series here.
Called to Suffer
January 24, 2024
In these days of trial and sorrow, I am re-hearing a calling that the Lord placed upon my life years ago, one that is still upon me today. This is not a calling that was chosen by me, but one that was chosen for me. I have been called to suffer—and I should make as much out of it as I possibly can. Here’s how various Bible writers put it:
“For it has been granted to you for the sake of Christ that you should . . . suffer for his sake . . .” (Phil. 2:29). In other words, in Paul’s mind, suffering for the sake of Christ is a gift or bestowment granted to me; a type of calling bestowed upon me by Christ.
“But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:20b–21). Peter says that I have been called to suffering and then to follow the example of Christ while in his sufferings.
“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:17). According to Paul, God calls us to various assignments. The apostle then mentions various callings like spiritual privilege or disadvantage and freedom or bondage. He says that the Lord assigns various callings—pleasant or otherwise—that we are to fulfill as best we can until such a time when God chooses to change our circumstances.