Christian Suffering, Part 4: Patient Endurance Finds Favor with God

Until now I have emphasized the fact that because of our inherent sinfulness, there is a sense in which we actually deserve any and all suffering that we may experience. However, there is also a very real sense in which Christians endure undeserved, unjust suffering, even being punished for doing what is right. God has endowed us with the ability to make moral decisions, and these choices are not meaningless. He does not ignore, undermine, or devalue the righteous acts of Christians that result in undeserved suffering. When I refer to patient endurance here, I am speaking of Christians who experience suffering that is unjustly inflicted.

I Peter 2:19-20 says, “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” As Christians we ought to accept the consequences of sin with patient endurance as well, but we have accomplished nothing of merit. God takes special notice of those who suffer for righteousness.

Why is this type of endurance particularly pleasing to God? It makes us Christlike. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus Christ freely chose to come to earth and enter into all of our brokenness. Every aspect of the suffering that He endured, whether indirect effects of sin like hunger or directly wrongful oppression, was completely undeserved. There is nothing notably Christlike about enduring the due consequences of our sin. However, when we experience undeserved oppression, especially for doing what is right, we are following in His footsteps, and God is expressly pleased.