Suffering is common to all human beings; however, its expectation is more sure for Christians, due to our union with the suffering Savior. Though he now sits at God’s right hand, our victorious, risen and ascended Savior still has his scars.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.—1 Peter 2:21
One of our daughters recently asked why it seems our family suffers more than other people she knows who do not follow the Lord. “Sometimes,” she said, “it seems life would be easier if we were not Christians.” It can feel like that sometimes, can’t it? Though our primary identity is that we are saints, and we continue to wrestle against the power of indwelling sin, we also endure a lot of suffering in this world. In fact, Jesus predicted that all who follow him will suffer: “In the world you will have tribulation.” But he also urges us to “take heart” since he has already “overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
First Peter 2:21, above, makes it clear that suffering is part of our calling as Christ followers. The context of this particular admonition is suffering for righteousness’ sake; that is, persecution for doing right in the face of unfair or evil treatment. However, the same truth serves as an umbrella principle over all forms of suffering we endure. Simply put, we are sufferers.
We were born into a fallen world cursed by God when mankind first sinned in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:17). As a result, we groan. We groan because life hurts badly—there are unspeakable sorrows. But, unlike the person who does not know Jesus, we groan with hope. We groan, while we wait for the final day of redemption when “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).