Introduction: Who wants to suffer? No one! There is a considerable amount of tension between concepts when discussing a Christian and suffering. On the one hand, God gives us His commandments so that we will live better, more enjoyable lives. On the other hand, Jesus suffered at the hands of Satan. If our Master suffered, then we should not be surprised by suffering. How do we understand these two opposing concepts? Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Benefit of Suffering

    1. Read 1 Peter 1:6-7. What does this say is the benefit of
      suffering? (Our faith is proven genuine, and we bring glory to God.)

      1. When I was growing up, I understood that God threw problems onto our path so that our faith would grow. Do you think that is true?

    2. Read Job 1:8-12. One of the lessons of the Book of Job is that humans have a very difficult time explaining why bad things happen. As a result, we just need to trust God. Who is the trouble-maker, who is causing harm in Job’s case? (Satan. He suggests hurting Job.)

      1. Read your knowledge of Job’s story back into 1 Peter1:7. Who was challenging the genuine nature of Job’s faith? (Satan.)

      2. Did Job need this challenge as far as God was concerned? (Not according to Job 1:1. Satan was the
        one who challenged Job’s faith.)

      3. Who was gloried through Job’s experience? (God was
        proven right about Job, and Satan was proven wrong.)

    3. What do you think about this alternative theory (an
      alternative to what I understood when I was young): 1)
      Satan is the one who throws suffering into our lives; 2)
      Satan does this because he believes we serve God only for
      selfish reasons; and, 3) When we remain faithful we show
      Satan is wrong and bring glory to God?

  2. The Tension

    1. Read 1 Peter 4:12-14. We are told that suffering is not
      something that is “strange.” Rather, it is something about
      which we should have joy. Why is suffering a cause for
      joy? I don’t want to suffer!

      1. Why did Job suffer? Why did Jesus suffer? (They were
        both targets of Satan because they were good. Jesus
        was the standard-bearer for good. The joy arises when
        you realize that you have been picked out because you
        are a person who is bringing glory to God.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:12 and re-read 1 Peter 4:14. What kind of
      suffering do we find described here? (People say bad
      things about you and insult you.)

      1. When I think about suffering, I think about being
        tortured or a painful sickness. Of course, that has
        happened to Christians over the ages, see Hebrews
        11:36-38. Is there a danger in thinking about
        suffering only in the most drastic terms? (Yes. We
        miss the fact that when we are insulted it is an
        opportunity for showing God’s love.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 4:15. What is a “meddler?” (Someone who is
      sticking his nose in the business of other people.)

      1. Do you know Christians who are “meddlers?” Those who
        meddle because they think God wants them to?

    4. Look again at 1 Peter 4:15. How does this show the tension
      between concepts that I mentioned in the introduction? (I
      suspect a lot more Christians suffer because they make bad
      decisions, then those who suffer because of good
      decisions. The problem is that those suffering for bad
      decisions want to attribute the suffering to being a

      1. Should you correct those people who wrongly claim to
        be suffering as a result of their good work, when in
        fact it is because of their bad decisions? (This was
        the mission of Job’s four friends – to convince him
        he was suffering because of his sins. God rebuked
        three of the friends for doing this. Job 42:7.)

      2. Can suffering for bad decisions be a good thing? (You
        can still bring glory to God by your reaction to

      3. Peter sets out two reasons for suffering – our bad
        decisions and our good decisions. Are there other
        reasons for suffering? (Yes. Our collective sins
        result in a sinful world. This, and the specific sins
        and errors of other individuals, create a third
        reason for suffering. Job teaches us to be careful
        about trying to pinpoint exact reasons for

  3. Christians Suffer Less

    1. Read 1 Peter 4:17-18. Who does this tell us suffers more:
      Christians or non-Christians? (It suggests that being a
      Christian is the path to less suffering.)

      1. Think about this a minute. Does this suggest that God
        is the author of this suffering?

      2. Let’s go back and revisit our friend Job. Read Job
        1:9-12. Could God had said, “No, Satan, I do not
        accept your challenge regarding Job?” (Of course. If
        God left the “hedge” in place Satan would have been
        powerless over Job.)

      3. What if Job were not a follower of God and did not
        have God’s “hedge around him?” Does Satan have to ask
        God’s permission to harm those who devote their lives
        to Satan’s program?

    2. Read Hebrews 11:32-35. Are these examples of suffering? (I
      say “yes.”)

      1. What is great about these examples of suffering?
        (They all won! When you think about it, both Jesus
        and Job won. Instead of only thinking about suffering
        as being “beaten up” by the forces of evil, suffering
        includes battles where we win! At the Second Coming
        of Jesus, we will ultimately win every suffering

    3. Let’s get back to 1 Peter 4:17. Peter does not say who is
      bringing judgment in 1 Peter 4:17, but the account of
      Job’s suffering points to Satan as the author of this
      “judgment.” Is our God also one who brings judgment on
      humans? (Read Genesis 18:25-26, Psalms 96:13, John 5:22-23
      and Acts 17:31. Jesus will be the ultimate Judge of all
      humanity. The story of the flood and of Sodom and Gomorrah
      show us that God also enters judgment against the wicked
      now, but I think (without a scientific basis to back me
      up) that Satan brings most of the bad things that happen
      to humanity.)

      1. Notice that I called what Satan does a “judgment.” Is
        that true? (It is much more accurate to call what
        Satan brings “trials,” and what God brings as
        “judgment.” God is not bringing suffering to people,
        He is executing judgment – making a decision on their
        continued existence.)

    4. Read 1 Peter 4:19. I’ve been arguing that it is Satan that
      brings trials. This seems to say that it really God’s will
      (“according to God’s will”) that people suffer. How should
      we understand this text?

      1. Was there suffering in Eden? (Read Job 2:3. God tells
        Satan that there was no good reason to make Job
        suffer. God does not want us to suffer. When Peter
        says “according to God’s will” he means that God has
        power over everything. We can have confidence that
        God controls those bad things that come our way.)

      2. Notice that in 1 Peter 4:19 Peter calls God our
        “faithful Creator.” Why? (He is further bolstering
        the idea that God is faithful to us, even when we
        suffer. God created us and He loves us!)

    5. Friend, if you are suffering today, take a good look at
      why you are suffering. If it is because of your
      righteousness, then praise God and accept it with joy
      because you are suffering like your Lord. If you are
      suffering because of bad decisions, then ask God to help
      you know what to do to minimize the damage and maximize
      your witness for God. If you cannot determine the reason
      for your suffering, then the story of Job teaches us to
      simply trust God. Whatever the reason for your suffering,
      if you remain faithful to God, He will take it all away
      when He comes again!

  4. Next week: Servant Leadership.