Why Should Some Christians Suffer in the Great Tribulation?

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering , as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Many say suffering is synonymous to being a Christian. It is difficult to think of a Christian who should not or does not suffer.

There are two kinds of sufferings that a person goes through. First is a suffering as a consequence of sin and the other is a suffering as consequence of being a follower of God. Suffering as a consequence of sin is very normal and easy to understand. It’s like if someone had committed a crime, then that person will get imprisoned. If we disobey the rules, we suffer. But it is very unusual scenario for a Christian because it is by obeying the rules that one suffers. Let us go into biblical teachings on Christian suffering which is what we will study in this topic—the Christian suffering.

The Bible has so much to say about a believer’s suffering. All godly people, from Genesis to Revelation have all suffered as if believers have no right to live a trouble-free and comfortable life. Christians are being taught to “turn the other cheek” and "walk the extra mile" if maltreated (Matt 5:39). Why does God allow it?

1. For a Christian, suffering is a joy

1 Peter 4:12-16
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

The above passage explains that one should rejoice for suffering as a Christian and we should make sure that our suffering is not as a result of being a law breaker.

2. Our suffering will be rewarded

Matt 5:11-12
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

One might say that there are some servants of God that enjoyed a comfortable living like King David. He was a king of Israel, wealthy, and he has all kinds of luxuries he can wish at his disposal. But all of those luxurious living was a reward and the fruit of long suffering before he became a king. He endured years of being hunted, hiding and yet he endured and forgave his enemies. Same is true with his son Solomon. Solomon wished for wisdom and not riches and comfortable living. In short, our comfort is a fruit of something we have sown or invested. Suffering and fear of God should come first before any blessing or reward.

If it seemed you have suffered so long without any reward in sight, the Bible says, “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” Many Christians have suffered and died and the fruits of their suffering are not reaped on earth but in after life.

Also read The Beatitudes and notice that those who lack the comforts of this world and do the will of God will certainly reap huge rewards.

3. Christians suffer because they are strangers to the world

Matt 10:16
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves . Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

John 15:18-19
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Remember that Christians do not belong to this world. We are strangers and not mere strangers but helpless sheep among wolves. Do we have any defence? Aside from helpful advice to be wise but innocent, the Bible also says we will suffer for being strangers (John 16:33) but not without defence . But that defence is not necessarily to harm but to strengthen us in our trials, giving us peace that the world can not understand, to have rest to our soul.

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Matt 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

4. To suffer is to experience God’s power

2 Cor 12:8-10 
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul did not realize that his sickness is actually God’s way of reminding him to pray always since he has become conceited. It was when Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” or some kind of sickness that he prayed to God for healing three times (2 Cor 12:7). But Jesus Christ said, His power is made perfect in weakness.

It is our natural reaction if we suffer a terrible kind of disease or any situation that we are at the end of our ropes, that is, we pray to God even if we are not a very religious person. We look up unto the One whom we believe can give us relief from our suffering. And if we have faith, we find great and marvellous solution according to His will.

5. Suffering causes us to seek God

Ex 2:23-25
During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Also read sufferings of the Hebrews that led to God’s deliverance in Judg 3:9, Judg 3:15, Judg 6:6, Judg 10:10.

We should look at our sufferings as an investment or bank deposit. The bigger and longer our suffering, the greater the power of God made manifest in us. Take for example the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt. It took 400 years of maltreatment and affliction (Gen 15:13) before they received the great deliverance from God in awesome display of power like dividing the sea for them to walk through.

6. God applied the ultimate suffering to Himself as an example to many

Heb 9:22
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Jesus came as mortal man and was also tempted, felt thirst, hunger and pain much in the same way as we do but was without sin. Read Heb 2:17-18 and Heb 4:15-16.

Applying all the above knowledge, we now understand that in the Great Tribulation, God allowed the Christians to suffer in the hands of Antichrist. He wanted us to be humble, be strong, endure and call unto Him because He is preparing a huge reward for us. Don't be dismayed and feeling forsaken since our earthly suffering is short, temporary compared to the eternal happiness and reward in heaven. He has promised deliverance even mightier than what He showed to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. He shall repeat the Great Exodus; He will guide us with a pillar of cloud and fire. He shall make war with the enemies and enter the Promised Land and many more wonders as a testimony that He is the Lord of Lords.

Those who will suffer and beheaded in the Great Tribulation will receive a very special recognition not given to any creation since Adam.

Rev 20:4-6
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Jesus Christ was very straightforward when it comes to loving our earthly life and neglecting our spirit.

Matt 16:25-26
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

It is actually our unfaithfulness why we suffer not because we are obedient unto God and that is unfortunate. God is nagry due to our since and for us to regain God's favour, we should become weak and suffer.

Isaiah 54:8:

“In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.

The Great Tribulation is actually a simple test of our preference: physical life or spiritual life? To choose physical life is a sure way to escape beheading and live (temporarily). To choose Jesus Christ is a sure death but means an eternal life in heaven. The choice is ours but the warning is already written. Let us take heed and decide today. Tomorrow may be too late. The Second Coming for anybody is maybe when He comes again or when we finally breathe our last. Who knows the time of our death? Decide today to become a Christian and have faith.
 

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