“We must not imagine that we are suffering for Christ, and with Christ, if we are not in Christ. Beloved friend, are you trusting to Jesus only? If not, whatever you may have to mourn over on earth, you are not “suffering with Christ,” and have no hope of reigning with him in heaven. Neither are we to conclude that all a Christian’s sufferings are sufferings with Christ, for it is essential that he be called by God to suffer. If we are rash and imprudent, and run into positions for which neither providence, nor grace has fitted us, we ought to question whether we are not rather sinning than communing with Jesus.” – Spurgeon
These are some great thoughts from Charles, I have often thought about the claims of suffering, when it’s just our own knuckle headed moves that have gotten us into trouble. In the paradigm of American Christianity we sometimes equate the slightest personal discomfort with persecution. Have you been stoned lately for proclaiming the gospel? Do you live with the threat of murder for the sake of your witness? I think the saints of old, as well as many Christians living in places like Mynmar, or Orissa, (India) might have some quiet objections to claims of our great suffering. Here is a brief summary of what has happened there recently:
“Thousands of dalits and tribals belonging to the Christian minorities in the Kandhamal region of Orissa were victims of organized violence starting in August 2007. According to government figures during the last bout of violence from August to December 2008, in Kandhamal district alone more than 600 villages were ransacked, 5600 houses were looted and burnt, 54000 people were left homeless, 38 people were murdered.
Human rights groups estimate that over 100 people were killed, including women, disabled and aged persons and children; and an unestimated number suffered severe physical injuries and mental trauma. While there are reports of four women being gang-raped, many more victims of sexual assault are believed to have been intimidated into silence. 295 churches and other places of worship, big and small, were destroyed. 13 schools, colleges, and offices of 5 non-profit organizations damaged.
About 30,000 people were uprooted and lived in relief camps and continue to be displaced. During this period about 2,000 people belonging to minority communities were forced to repudiate their Christian faith. More than 10,000 children had their education severely disrupted due to displacement and fear. Today, after two years, the situation has not improved, although the administration time and again claims it is peaceful and has returned to normalcy. With a view to create conditions for justice and accountability for the violence, the National Solidarity Forum organized a National People’s Tribunal (NPT) on 22-24 August 2010 at the Constitution Club in Delhi.”
I think it is important that we keep a perspective beyond our own experience and borders when it comes to trouble in this life. We live in a fallen world. Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble.”
The trials of life and the persecution of the saints are two entirely different things. Neither should surprise us, neither should deter us from our calling.