In seeking to be more like Jesus, there is an area in the life of Jesus that many of us really struggle to embrace. That is the area of suffering. No one wants to suffer. People don’t volunteer to be lied on, fired, or diagnosed with a disease. Although no one wants to suffer, we all will suffer at some point in our lives. The question is do we handle the adversities of life in a way that honors God?
First Peter 2:18-23 highlights Jesus as our role model in suffering. Christians were being called to go beyond what would reasonably be expected in the face of harsh treatment. God shines upon those who, because of their relationship with Him, face harsh treatment with courage and endure the pain of injustice with boldness. When you are aware of the presence and will of God in your life, it changes who you are and how you respond to harsh treatment. We have a testimony to maintain before the world. We are to emulate and reflect the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. Christ left us an example of how to deal with being wronged by others. It is not a question of if, but when will suffering occur.
Suffering is not a detour by which believers receive the inheritance to which they were called. It is God’s appointed means for receiving the inheritance. Expect it. Expect to lose some friends because you are a Christian. Expect for family members to talk about you thinking you are better than they are. Expect co-workers to laugh at your holiness. Christ suffered. But he didn’t just suffer. He suffered for you.
If we are going to be more like Jesus in our suffering, we must learn to suffer patiently. We must suffer with trust. And we must suffer with appreciation. We should be able to give thanks even while in the trial. The purpose of Christ’s death was not merely to provide forgiveness but to empower his people to “live for righteousness.”