What Christian-Suffering Is Not! And What It Is!
by Ron Craig
Writers' Branding

"Only sufferings that serve and honor God, and truly help others, have eternal rewards attached to them."

In this emphatic treatise, pastor and author Craig seeks to help others understand the meaning of suffering from a Christian perspective. Whereas historically, some religious systems (notably Catholicism) developed a creed based on human error and the always-sinful intent of the flesh, some modern, evangelical ones may allow a new convert to believe that by the very experience of conversion, one moves forward and can leave one's former misdeeds behind. But why would God give humans bodies through which to know and serve him if they were inherently evil? How can his laws be upheld if people are allowed to ignore them?

Using a plethora of biblical examples in making his powerful points, Craig states that the suffering of illness is "profitless." Otherwise, why did Jesus heal the sick? Similarly, God's intention was not to make or keep his followers poor. In fact, Jesus wished his people to prosper, maintaining high physical standards and avoiding slothfulness. Importantly, some forms of suffering have genuine value for a Christian. These include the sufferings of Christ himself, offering a blessing of spiritual "bread" to all. Christians are given the chance to experience his pain and be saved through it, an example of what the author calls "sufferings that have redemptive value."

Investigating these strongly held principles has clearly been a life purpose for Craig. Throughout this well-considered exhortation, he frequently reminds readers that they must have the same care for one another that Jesus had for all. It is also evident that he has explored the many disparate teachings of current churches to demonstrate that their leaders may be mistaken in their interpretations of the holy word. Craig boldly asserts that one's body allows one to be here to experience and accept God and Jesus and therefore is not an evil vehicle. However, Christians must continually adhere to biblical teaching, repent of past misdeeds, and develop a continuing practice of loving kindness to others.

Despite the tendency of some modern churches to downplay or deny it, the author maintains the strong conviction that Hell exists and is eternal because God is faithful to his promises to ensure his laws are upheld: "Nobody is exempt from the Divine oversight." It is obvious in the narrative that the author is determined to help readers grasp his central thesis and live accordingly: that is, to be true to biblical history and example. Christians may be persecuted for their beliefs, but they will also be rewarded, whereas those who persecute them, who do not accept the salvation Jesus offers, "will be repaid with great tribulation."

Craig's book is weighted with scriptural references in almost every paragraph and builds a rational case that those who take his findings to heart will enjoy "eternal benefits." They may "sow in tears" but will "reap in joy." Helping others may be inconvenient, even painful, but God approves such actions and has attached eternal rewards to them. This is a primary example of "valid Christian-suffering." Craig's examination of these issues will undoubtedly fascinate those of his faith who have been seeking a new direction for its practice and may draw in others who are hearing of such precepts, so boldly presented, for the first time.

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