Our Proper Response To Suffering Helps Others

[This article was taken from chapter 15 of our book Don’t Blame God!]


It is said that “no man is an island.” For Christians, this is certainly true. Remember 1 Peter 5:9, which says that your brothers and sisters in the Lord are faced with the same sufferings you are? That is why we can help one another if we deal with Satan’s tests in a godly manner. This fact should be added incentive for us to do so. The following verses aptly express this truth:

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
(3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
(4) Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
(5) For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
(6) If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
(7) And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Obstacles are opportunities for growth. Verse five shows that the bigger the obstacle, the more comfort, strength and wisdom the Lord will give you to help you deal with it. Once you are on the other side of the challenge, you get to keep all that you learned and gained in the experience. Thus you have experienced “growth.”

2 Corinthians 1:5 (above) speaks of “the sufferings of Christ flowing over into our lives.” This is one of several passages of Scripture that touch upon a Christian’s identification with the sufferings of his Savior. Here are some others:

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up [complete] in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

Philippians 3:10
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Although we may not understand it all, “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” somehow enables us to be a part of Christ’s redemptive ministry, and it benefits others, as did his suffering. If you look back to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (above), you can see this truth.

Verse 5 says that though the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, “so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” Why? Because, as Hebrews 4:15 states, we do not have a Lord “who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet without sin.”

When properly understood from Scripture, the magnitude of Jesus’ sufferings— physical and emotional— far exceeds what most Christians will have to endure. Let us remember that he basically suffered alone, in terms of human companionship. He knows that companionship is vital for suffering people, and he will always be with us, no matter what our circumstances. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18). That is why each of us should “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Certainly the Apostle Paul’s ability to deal with all that he suffered (see 2 Corinthians 11:23ff) was in large part due to his comprehending the truths that he himself would later set forth in Scripture. Paul fully realized, even while alone in his sufferings, that how he responded would affect the lives of many other Christians. We too can be motivated to faithfulness by this same truth. No Christian is “the Lone Ranger.” There is comfort and strength in standing shoulder-to-shoulder in battle and supporting one another in times of suffering, because your example of resolute faith and joy can encourage others, and vice versa. Here we are talking about what we like to call “the camaraderie of the committed,” one of the true joys of life.

Furthermore, suffering can actually contribute to the hope of Paradise being magnified in our hearts. As Rice says:

Suffering reminds us that something is drastically wrong with our present situation…One effect of sin is our tendency to find satisfaction in things of less than ultimate value. We are in constant danger of becoming so comfortable with the temporal material things that we lose sight of the eternal. Suffering jolts us into realizing that our destiny lies beyond this world. [1]

God promises us that He will strengthen us in time of trouble, and one day by His power and grace glorify Himself in us in the age to come. At the bottom line of life’s balance sheet is our hope of everlasting life, guaranteed to each Christian by the gift of holy spirit.

Romans 5:1-5
(1) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
(2) Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
(3) Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
(4) Perseverance, character [dokime— what is produced by passing the test]; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his
(5) Love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom [holy spirit which] he has given us.


[1] Rice, When Bad Things Happen to God’s People, page 59.

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