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Minister’s Message: When the going gets tough…

Suffering as a Christian is not always a popular preaching topic.

By Frank Alioto

Have you ever gone through a season or time in life when you felt that at each turn something just kept going wrong?

Maybe you have experienced health issues, a financial challenge, a failed relationship or a crisis of faith. You might even be suffering tough times when you “follow the rules” and others receive the praise or you go out of your way to help someone who then goes and blames you for their misfortune.

Most of us at some point can recognize when our own actions cause us pain, but what do we do when there does not seem to be a reason or source to blame for our troubles?

Suffering as a Christian is not always a popular preaching topic. It seems many would rather hear sermons about getting blessed or acquiring worldly wealth, but the Bible actually talks about suffering as being part of God’s redeeming plan for those who follow him.

In the Bible, one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, wrote to fellow believers who were facing persecution for being followers of Jesus. Many had heard of Nero’s torturing of other believers and had fled Rome to live in Asia Minor as Christians throughout the empire were being slaughtered.

Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Suffering can be a punishment or consequence of something you have done wrong, or it can be allowed by God to help grow a follower of Jesus in godliness.

Peter actually encourages believers not to be surprised of the hard tests they were facing. He even challenges them to take joy in hard times, as they are occasions to develop perseverance and even to reflect the glory of identifying with Jesus and his sacrifice for humanity.

Often surviving suffering is difficult enough, but choosing to be joyful is even harder. Those who follow Christ should expect trials as they serve as opportunities to grow into the person God has created us to be. Overcoming through suffering and tests will lead not just to eternal life, but also to living the best life now in your relationship with God.

Peter then gives followers the encouragement and the fuel for surviving hard times: “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19). When one keeps their eyes on Jesus and remains faithful in the midst of suffering, one then reflects the glory of God and He is praised through your life. In time God, your “faithful Creator,” will prove faithful as the plan for your life unfolds.

So as you follow Jesus, “when the going gets tough” keep persevering as you entrust yourself to the God who loves you and keeps you going!

Frank Alioto is the pastor of Roots Family Church in Soldotna (907-252-0036) and serves as a chaplain in our community.

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