Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos
Maybe one of the most unique things about the Christian life is the call to suffer (Matthew 10:38; 16:2; Romans 8:17; Philippians 1:29). If anything was ever countercultural this is surely it! And maybe one of the hardest things about the Christian life is a willingness to endure that suffering silently. Don’t misunderstand me. There are surely times that we are not to endure suffering silently. The most obvious example is when the Gospel is at stake. But those times seem to be rare and far between. Usually our suffering for the sake of Christ does not call for us to add our voice to the cacophony.
However, when we are being persecuted or falsely accused by others our first inclination is typically to offer a defense. And why is that? Because our true concern in most of these cases is not the Gospel, nor Christ, nor even His Church—though those may be secondary concerns—our real concern is what others will think of us and the desire to be vindicated.
The rationalizing comes fast, “I cannot allow error to triumph over truth,” “My reputation is at stake,” “It will hamper my future ministry or current relationships,” “Surely I am to suffer but that does not mean being a doormat,” etc. However, at times does it not seem wise to follow the lead of our Lord and suffer silently (Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23-24)? It is not easy, but often it is the most righteous and holy course to take. As Peter says, in so doing we are following in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21ff). Here are a few things to remind yourself as you seek to suffer silently unto the glory of God.
I have the opportunity to…
- look to Christ who suffered silently (Isaiah 53:7)
- become more like Christ as I endure suffering (1 Peter 2:21)
- and privilege of suffering with Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
- complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24)
- to be tested by fire, so the genuineness of my faith will shine to the glory and honor of Christ (1 Peter 1:7)
- remind myself that the Great Judge knows what is true (Matthew 12:36)
- suffer with Him—knowing that as I do, I shall be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17)
- suffer as it is a gracious thing in the sight of God (1 Peter 2:20)
- suffer as it is a blessing and a sign that the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon me (1 Peter 4:14)
- be reminded that my current suffering is nothing compared to the glory that awaits (1 Peter 5:10)
- truly love my enemies (Matthew 5:44)
- know more fully the extent of Christ’s love towards me (Ephesians 3:14ff)
- learn afresh how dependent I am upon Christ (John 15:5)
- be identified with Christ (John 15:18ff)
- test my desire for God’s glory rather than man’s approval (Isaiah 51:7-8)
Fear of man must not silence you when you should speak. But neither should it lead you to speak when you should not. And suffering for the sake of Christ often means remaining silent in the midst of that suffering. It is hard and bitter. But as our minds are gripped by these truths, that which is hard and bitter can at the same time be sweet and easy to digest.