The message of sufferings is delivered by preacher Liu Kun at the Sunday service for the youth fellowship on September 4.
He shared that we should be convinced that blessings lie behind sufferings for the Lord never makes us bear sufferings in vain. Sufferings do bring four benefits to Christians and they are as follows:
1. Sufferings leads to repentance
Paul was the persecutor of Christians before being an apostle of the Lord. How did he turn to the Lord? Chapter 9, 22 and 26 all mention his repentance. He lost his sight and did not eat or drink anything for three days. Until he receiving the Holy Spirit, he was able to take some food and regained his strength.
It was the trouble that made him realize the weakness of his life, which led him to the salvation of Jesus Christ. Before experiencing the Lord, he lived a good life, was well educated and had authority, never worrying about bread-and-butter. But God gave Paul a life of repentance through the trouble and made him an instrument used by God.
2. Sufferings reveal men's faith
Psalm 119:71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Sufferings can be the standard to test faith. The faith of David and Paul were revealed in their sufferings. Even the Lord Jesus who suffered a lot still prayed to God for the humans when he was crucified.
The Lord set a good example for us. Do we still have faith when faced with difficulties?
Romans 8 says: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
3. Sufferings correct man's deeds
Chapter 3 of Jonah records the story of Jonah, who obeyed the word of God and went to Nineveh. At first, he was really reluctant to do this, but he had to do it after having endured sufferings for several days. God gave him troubles to correct his deed and let him learn obedience.
Numbers 21:4-9 tells that God brought a disaster to the Israelites to correct their grumbling so that they could recognize their transgression and the value of obeying God's word.
4. Sufferings can bless others
Acts 9:15 shows that Paul would carry the Lord's name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. Seen from his days recorded in the Bible, it was true that he who evangelized wherever he went became the blessing for many Gentiles.
Acts 16:16-40 says that Paul and Silas sang hymns to God even in prison and preached the Gospel to the jailor.
The Purpose-Driven Life also says, "...painful experiences, that God uses the most to prepare you for ministry. God never wastes a hurt! In fact, your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt. Who could better minister to the parents of a Down syndrome child than another couple who have a child afflicted in the same way? Who could better help an alcoholic recover than someone who fought that demon and found freedom? Who could better comfort a wife whose husband has left her for an affair than a woman who went through that agony herself? God intentionally allows you to go through painful experiences to equip you for ministry to others. The Bible says, 'He comfort us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.' "