Jesus promised it, Paul said it’s a gift of God, and we ought to welcome and grow through it.
Brian J. Tabb investigates the role of suffering in the life of faith, and the contribution of suffering to the spread of the Gospel in the March 2015 issue of JETS (“Salvation, Spreading, and Suffering: God's Unfolding Plan in Luke-Acts”).
This is an important article, as Dr. Tabb clearly shows the integral place of suffering in validating the Gospel and those who proclaim it, and in contributing to the progress of the Gospel and the Kingdom.
Christians should not resist suffering, but welcome it with rejoicing, prayer, and witness, for it is only through many trials that we must enter the Kingdom of God, even as did our Lord.
Suffering is not to be equated with persecution only; it takes many forms, involving self-denial for the good of others and the cause of the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 9.27; 2 Cor. 11.23-29). Our witness for Christ will necessarily involve resistance and perhaps mocking, ridicule, oppression, and even violence. It also requires exertions of strength and endurance beyond what we are capable of in the strength of our bodies alone – the strength of the indwelling Spirit (Eph. 3.20; Phil. 2.13; Acts 1.8).
We must be bold and joyful in the face of all forms of suffering, looking into the heavens for the strength and hope of the Lord.