Paul repeatedly published lists of the sufferings of Christians (see also 2 Cor 6:4ff; 11:23ff). Paul described the apostles as "men doomed to die in the arena," "a spectacle to the universe," "fools on Christ's account," sneered at, "hungry and thirsty, poorly clad, roughly treated, wandering about homeless," insulted, persecuted, and slandered (1 Cor 4:9-13). Paul stated that, in effect, Christians should expect to be treated as the world's garbage; "that is the present state of affairs" (1 Cor 4:13).
Paul emphasized our sufferings with and for Christ:
- so that we would expect to suffer (1 Pt 4:1),
- to teach us that it is a privilege to suffer for Christ (Phil 1:29; Acts 5:41),
- to show us the joy there is in Christian suffering (Col 1:24; 1 Pt 4:13),
- to show us the power in redemptive suffering (see Jn 12:24), and
- so that we would want to suffer with and for Him (see Phil 3:10) more than we want to stay in our "comfort zone."
Christians, don't be afraid of suffering, or you will be afraid to live, die, and love. "Christ suffered for you in just this way and left you an example, to have you follow in His footsteps" (1 Pt 2:21).