Theology of Suffering

As AIM moves more and more into areas requiring creative access, the necessity to suffer in order that many may come to know the truth of the Gospel is becoming an even greater possibility.  Yet even in the areas where suffering for the Gospel (with regards to such things as persecution and hostility) is not as likely, one must recognize that suffering is a part of life and is all around us. Contrary to the popular worldview taught even in many western churches, the Bible teaches us that suffering is not a bad thing and that we are actually called to suffering and sacrifice. Therefore, as disciples of Jesus Christ, it is crucial that we have a Biblical theology of suffering.

As you explore what a Biblical theology of suffering might look like, please take a look at this 10 minute video segment of our director Luke talking about the ‘5 S’s of AIM’s preferred culture: service, sacrifice, suffering, seeking and submission.’


Ajith Fernando, leader of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, says:

The New Testament is clear that those who work for Christ will suffer because of their work.  Tiredness, stress, and strain may be the cross God calls us to.  Paul often spoke about the physical hardships his ministry brought him…If the apostle Paul knew fatigue, anger, and anxiety in his ministry, what makes us think we can avoid them in ours?

The Bible and history show that suffering is an essential ingredient in reaching unreached people…Christians in both the East and the West need to have a firm theology of suffering if they are to be healthy and bear fruit.

To learn more about what the Bible says about suffering, take a look at this video with Marion Dicke from the Mobile Member Care Team, or read this Ken Williams article that is full of Scriptures regarding a theology of suffering.

Take some time to discuss your reading of The Call to Joy and Pain with your facilitator.


1. What is your view of suffering as a believer, both in the day to day things and in situations that might be described as persecution?

2. How does your view line up with Scripture?  Can you give references?

3. What connection do you see between joy and suffering? In what ways does suffering draw us nearer to God?

4. Describe a time when you have personally experienced joy in the midst of suffering or pain.

5. How can suffering make you more effective in service? Are there certain aspects of suffering that you are already anticipating?

Next: Cross-Cultural Awareness