FROM SUFFERING INNOCENTLY
TO ETERNAL GLORY
BY IRMA F. MATRAI
2 Corinthians 4
Is there anyone, who never suffered for something he didn't do; in other words,
innocently? I don't think so. And since all of us did, we all know how much physical and
spiritual pain such can cause.
However, before we discuss this matter let us clarify two important issues. First, that
suffering does not make us fit for Heaven. Nobody will go to Heaven just because
he/she suffered a great deal while on earth. Although many people think so!
For example, the good old Mr. P. was repeatedly complaining to one of his friends about
how much he suffered throughout his life. His friend, in return, tried to console him by
telling him that through it all he probably earned himself a place in Heaven. He mislead
the poor man with his false theory though and at the same time probably prevented him
from searching for the true way to Glory-land.
For, according to the Bible there is only
one key. Namely, the unmovable faith in Christ's deity, which leads to honest
confession of one's sin; the asking of his forgiveness; an the invitation of him into our
"He that believeth in the Son, has eternal life..." And "If we confess our sins, he is
faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us..." Furthermore "...to all who
received him... he gave the right to become children of God..."
We read in John 3:16, 1
John 1:9, and John 1:12 NIV. Suffering innocently besides pain
may only result in blessings or sanctification, here on earth, but not eternal salvation!
And even that, only if through taking the above steps we became God's children
Secondly, we have to clarify that even though most of the time we suffer innocently for
following Jesus; yet occasionally we may have to go through undeserved suffering
because someone is mean to us. However, the Lord promised turn even the latter
situation into blessings. (Romans 8:28.)
Now, let us examine how God can bless us through our suffering?
Depending on how we react to them, the Lord may be able to use our suffering to turn
us into powerful soul-winners. The apostle Paul is a good example. For, in
2 Corinthians 4 he said:
"... we do not lose heart. Rather we have renounced secret and
shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the
contrary,... we...preach... Jesus Christ as Lord..." (NIV.)
In other words, Paul reacted
to his suffering with courage and greater holiness. No wonder, God was able to use him
Thus, if like Paul we too would like to lead a powerful, soul winning life; we can not
lose heart either when we suffer innocently. Instead, we too may renounce all known
sin; whether secret or other. Even if nobody knows about them and everyone thinks that
we are great Christians; or, even if we have a hard time to part with them. Then, God will
be able to bless our cleansed, honest, peacefully suffering Christian life with the salvation
of many lost souls. Thereby glorifying his name and helping us to rejoice in spite of our
In addition, according to Paul, suffering innocently may also indicate to the outside
"We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of
Jesus may also be revealed in our body."
(2 Chorintians 4:10, NIV.)
Meaning, that if
like Paul and even Jesus we too take suffering innocently with great patience; we will
show people around us that our Savior is truly living in us and acting through us. Thereby
bless them and ourselves.
How can that happen in the real world? For example, in case we would be persecuted and
jailed for following Jesus, instead of hate, we may relate to our tormentors with peace
and love. Or, may even witness to them and pray for them. Thereby they could not help
but notice that God's Son is living in us and is ruling our life. I heard about several
tortured saints in communist countries who did just that and thereby lead some of their
tormentors to Jesus; bringing great joy to each new convert and themselves as well.
Or, we may also demonstrate the presence of Christ in our life when an evil person cheats
us out of a lot of money or does something else to us. Naturally, in such cases our ego may
cry out for revenge, and may want to hold grudges. However, since as children of God
we want to be like Jesus; we will not get revenge, nor hold grudges. Furthermore, we
will carry our pain humbly and peacefully. In other words, we will be willing to carry the
pain for what someone else has done to us; as Jesus suffered for our sins. In other
words, we will take upon ourselves the suffering that he deserves. By doing so, the
life and death of Jesus will be seen in us too. Thereby making it possible for our enemy
to come to Christ, and for ourselves to become holier and more useful. Which will bring
joy to God and ourselves as well.
Furthermore, by carrying our pain patiently and peacefully we may even proclaim like
"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed
day by day."
(2 Chorintians 4:16 NIV.) Meaning that even though suffering may waste
our body away, yet our spirit is being strengthened through it all by getting closer to Jesus
than ever. Which too will fill our heart with great satisfaction.
Finally, the greatest blessing of bearing our undeserved suffering peacefully may be found
in the 17th verse which says:
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our
eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is
seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In other words, the greatest blessing for bearing our sufferings with the peace of Jesus will
be the rewards we will receive in Heaven. And since that is already more valuable to us
than anything else; our present pain and suffering seems to be so minute compared to what
we will receive over there; that with the help of Jesus we are willing to carry on
Jesus Christ prepared his own ahead of time for suffering when he said:
"No servant is
greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also..."
(John 15:20 NIV.)
In other words, anyone who by inviting Jesus into his heart becomes a child of
God can count on suffering.
But also, on the fact that it is well worth it because our
suffering will end up in "eternal glory"
or great rewards.
This is how suffering innocently yet peacefully may lead to eternal glory.
May we all
be willing to do our part so that many lost souls may come to Christ;
God's name may be
glorified; and we may receive abundant rewards in that land of eternal glory.