Suffering for Doing Good
July 20, 2019
Why is there so much suffering in the world? More personally and what might hit closer to home is this question: “Why do we suffer for doing good?” If God is all that the Bible says that He is, how can He allow His children to suffer, especially those who do good? Have you ever wrestled with these questions? I sure have. If God is love, why do "good people” suffer? The question of suffering for doing good has plagued humanity for centuries, especially for Christians who believe in an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent and loving God. Though we are tainted with sin, selfishness, and pride, most of us have a decent sense of what is right and wrong/just and fair because we are created in God’s image. As a result, it can be an extremely bitter pill to swallow when we suffer for doing good, especially if we feel like we are innocent. Our very soul cries out for vindication. We long for justice, and if we are truly honest, a little retribution wouldn’t hurt either.
What do the Scriptures tell us about suffering for doing good? Scores of books have been written on this topic and numerous biblical passages address it. First, I believe it is vital to remember that the Lord declares, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not our ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). So much of life is a mystery and many of our questions will go unanswered on this side of eternity (i.e. the life of Job). This reality, however, does not mean that we are left without counsel. Peter, the beloved leader of the twelve disciples, has much to say about suffering for doing good. And, I believe it is quite appropriate to hear his words.
Peter says, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery trial...but rejoice as you share Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:12-14). He also states, “You have been grieved by various trials...tested by fire...but resulting in the praise, glory, and honor of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Like James, Peter reminds us that we are blessed if we suffer for Christ’s sake because the Spirit of glory rests upon us (1 Peter 4:14). Another aspect of suffering while doing good is that unbelievers will see our good works and give glory to God because our conduct has been honorable, even though we suffer (1 Peter 2:12). Furthermore, Peter declares that it is a gracious thing to suffer for doing good (1 Peter 2:20). Finally, Peter exhorts us to follow Christ’s example for doing good while suffering when he says, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving an example, so that we might follow His footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21-25).
There is so much to unpack in these verses. What speaks to you and how can you apply these truths to your own life? Peter wants us to realize that suffering is part of the Christian life. If our Lord and Savior suffered, then we too should expect suffering. We need to realize that our suffering for doing good will test and mature our faith. It will be a living gospel conversation to those who don’t know Jesus and will bring incredible glory to God. May we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and follow in His footsteps as we suffer for doing good (Hebrews 12:3).