8. We suffer to honor God. Jesus tells us to take heart when we are persecuted for His sake (Matthew 5:10) and warns us the world will hate us because it first hated Him. If Christians had easier lives it would make the Gospel more attractive for the wrong reasons. God would become a means to an end rather than the end of all things Himself.

9. We suffer to grow spiritually. Jesus, perfect in His humanity, nevertheless "learned" obedience through suffering. Paul writes that he has "learned" in whatsoever state he is, to be content (Philippians 4:11). Paul's "thorn in the flesh," he wrote, is designed to keep him from boasting (2 Corinthians 12).

10. We suffer to better anticipate the glories of heaven and the world to come. In Revelation 21:4 we read, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away." Paul writes, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).

(c) Baptist Press. Used with permission.

Rob Phillips is director of communications for the Missouri Baptist Convention with responsibility for leading MBC apologetics ministry in the state. Phillips is on the Web at www.oncedelivered.net.

Publication date: November 28, 2012