Benefits and Suffering Are Part of the Following Jesus Package
It’s Sometimes Easy and Sometimes Hard to Fully Follow Jesus
There Are Amazing Benefits in Following Jesus
In selling any product, marketing experts tell businesses to emphasize the benefits, not the process or the details of the product. Most people don’t care exactly how a computer works; they are interested in the benefits.
Benefits like being able to produce and store important information and interact with the online world and use whatever they have downloaded. We want to know what we’ll be getting from the product before we purchase it.
What many non-Jesus followers don’t realize is that following Jesus offers the most incredible benefits in existence.
Psalm 103:1–3 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases;…”
Psalm 116:12: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?”
Acts 4:9: “if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well…”
Romans 6:22: “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life.”
You experiencing the benefits of believing in Jesus is a major God-purpose. So much of what Jesus said and did, only doing the Father’s perfect will, had to do with helping people experience better lives.
Promises and Benefits Are God’s Will for Us
God’s promises and benefits are given to those directly connected to and trusting in Jesus.
The Apostle Paul even described his ministry as “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8b). One of the specific roles of the Holy Spirit is to help us know “the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12b).
There is a quality of life that comes directly from God that is better than anything this world can offer because it comes from God, who has the highest level of life possible. And it is available to every person who has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Suffering Also Included
Along with those amazing benefits, Scripture also tells us that there will also be times of suffering in this age. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…(1 Peter 4:12).
All you have to do is look at what happened to the Son of God and the apostles to realize that suffering is also part of the purpose package. We live in a world that is still soaked through with the death-producing force of sin.
The devil, who Jesus described as a liar, thief, and murderer, still has influence over much of the world. In one sense, Jesus defeated him and took the keys of death away from him. But until Jesus comes back, the fullness of Jesus’ victory will not be completely manifested.
God Wants Us To Learn to Fight Spiritually
That means there is still spiritual warfare taking place. None of us fully understand why God allowed Satan on planet Earth in the first place, but part of it is because God wants us to learn to fight through challenges and defeat evil.
Judges 3:1–2 tells us “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly.”
Although God’s promise to Israel was that they would live in a land flowing with milk and honey and that they would have protection from their enemies and peace in their land, He also wanted them to learn how to fight.
God did not empower Joshua’s Israel to drive out every single enemy in that generation because He knows the nature of this world and knew that regular spiritual warfare must be won.
James 1:1–4 tells us that going through various trials produces endurance in us and that if we let endurance finish its work, then we will be complete, lacking in nothing. Hebrews 5:8 tells us that even Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered.
There is so much more to understanding the blessings, benefits, and promises of God. And there is much more to understand about suffering and how to deal with it.
But, as a starting point, it’s important for all Jesus followers to realize both benefits and suffering are involved.
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