Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
As Christians we have the sufferings common to all men and the additional tribulations that come to us as a believing people. Although the New Testament declares that through much tribulation we shall enter the Kingdom of God, most believers struggle with the implications of such suffering. Is God mad at me? Perhaps I have done something wrong because surely if I was walking with Christ this would not occur? I am striving for the outworking of His holiness and a perfection of my fellowship with Christ … why is life falling apart? Why am I impoverished when those who are evil prosper? Why is my bodily health failing when I want to do so much for Christ? … And the list of questionings can go on, ad infinitum.
During a study on 2 Corinthians, I came across a quote from Charles Hodge about a believer’s sufferings in this life. The quote arrested me and still causes much reflection. I recognize its truthfulness yet there is still a struggle to engraft it into my soul. Is this not because I understand little of the person, work, and way of Christ? Perhaps it will arrest your meditations this day and cause your mind to search the scriptures to see whether such things are so.
God never punishes his people. That is, their sufferings are never designed to satisfy justice; nor are they always even chastisements in the proper sense of the word. They are not in all cases sent to correct evils, to repress pride, or to wean from the world. God often afflicts his people and his church simply to enable them the better to glorify his name. … The greater part of Paul’s sufferings were not chastisements. They wee designed simply to show to all ages the power of the grace of God, to let men see what a man could cheerfully endure, and rejoice that he was call upon to endure, for the sake of the Lord Jesus. (Charles Hodge, A Commentary on I & II Corinthians, 539)