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Judgement and Suffering

“For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 NIV

This verse is set in the midst of a passage about suffering and specifically about suffering because we are Christ-followers. Peter tells us that we shouldn’t “be surprised at the painful trial” but rather to rejoice that we “participate in the sufferings of Christ.” He even says that we are blessed if we are insulted because of the name of Christ and that we should “praise God that [we] bear that name.” At this point he speaks of the judgement beginning with Christians and then goes on to tell us that those “who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” So where does judgement come in? How does that fit?

Is suffering part of the judgement? It certainly seems from this passage that there is a definite corolation between suffering and judgement. I generally think of judgement as a negative thing as though judgement and punishment are the same thing but is it? When I look in the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary I find a surprise. Judgement is “a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion”; “a formal decision given by a court”; “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.”

If this is what judgement is then the suffering that comes from being a Christian is part of the judgement. The suffering is a statement that we belong to God; we are part of his family; there is no question regarding which side we are on; we have chosen to side with Jesus Christ regardless of the consequences. It’s a thumbs up from God and the world. No wonder we are to rejoice! No wonder we are considered blessed! No wonder we should not be ashamed but rather praise God that we bear Christ’s name!

But if suffering because of being a Christian is part of the judgement for God’s family, whatever will happen to “those who do not obey the gospel of God?” More than suffering? It’s a frightful thought.

God, I don’t want to suffer but I do want to be so bold in my following of you that it doesn't matter to me how others will respond. I don’t want my life to be lived cowering from those who could fire me or make fun of me or treat me with distain. I want to hold my head up high and be unafraid of saying, in my words and actions, “I belong to Christ.” God help me!


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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …