Since Christians are called to suffer, what does that mean for those who are NOT Christians, and suffer.
All people are subjected to suffering. It is a natural consequence of operating outside of the will of God. In this world there is physical pain and emotional pain, people suffer regardless of their belief systems.
What does this mean?
The natural world is what it is, that men might seek for answers and find God. When God is found, it becomes a matter of, “That the trial of your faith, more precious than gold….”. (1 Peter 1-7 ) The world is a staging ground for the testing and growing of what God is after. In Christians the pain should be converted to love. [the divine nature]
Natural man though, has all the elements of God even though he is estranged from him. In fact, it is this very thing that causes the various responses in man, whether they be God seeking or not, they are still responses that come from originally being made in his image.
Hence the pain when human sensitivities are trodden on, when human relationships fail, when the image of God is trampled into the dust. So we will suffer regardless of being a Christian or not. Only the Christian knows why, and has answers that the unbeliever does not have. The Christian has reason and faith to believe that there is an ultimate purpose to it all.
Because of being a Christian though, there are two other things involved. One is that if you live in the wrong place in the world you may be killed for your faith. Ironic isn’t it that the faith that stands for love and forgiveness and doing what is right and good and correct and looking after your neighbour etc. , is the one that others seek to kill and destroy.
The other thing is that because you are one who loves and is sensitive to God and the needs and suffering of others, you will suffer more than a non-believer. But this is meant to grow you into that which is acceptable to God. And you have the assurance of the Spirit of truth, life and righteousness within.
Having said that, we know that we ARE acceptable to God, having believed in his son to a cleansing faith in his “blood”. The heart that has accepted God’s reconciliation is acceptable to God. It is the ongoing cleansing, purification, sanctification that is proceeding. To make men again “after his own image”, where that image was once marred and distorted in sin.
If we are to take note of the lesson of Job, then we could expect trouble to come to us as though it deliberately sought us out, and perhaps it does. “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial that comes upon you, to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you”. That makes it sound as though it has the appearance of being an unexpected event, and certainly an undeserved one.
Every son is disciplined. We have to have faith in the end result. It was said of Jesus that “for the glory set before him, he endured the shame….”. If we are to follow Jesus, if he has indeed set an example for us to follow, then opposing unrighteousness will lead to persecution. And the way to oppose it is by living righteously.
Paul said REJOICE! Various scriptures comfort us with encouraging words. It is by faith from first to last. He who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24 – 13.
[There are further elements here. Jesus foresaw that he would be unable to understand what was happening to him. What came upon Job was unexpected and perplexing, illogical, to him. And in Romans 7, Paul was unable to understand his situation as to why sin was in control.]