18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”—John 21:18,19 (NLT)
Jesus is prophesying to Peter about how he would die. Peter was led to the cross by others and was crucified upside down at his request. Peter felt unworthy to be executed in the same method that Jesus was executed. At least eight of the twelve apostles died as martyrs with two, Peter and Andrew, being crucified. There are some leaders that teach that life as a Christian is free of stress and problems. This is not validated by a study of the Scriptures. In fact, just the opposite is taught.
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”–John 16:33 (NLT)
Jesus tells us in this verse that we will have trials and sorrows. Not just the normal troubles of those in the world, but more because we love and obey Him. But He also tells us that we can have total peace in Him. His peace is not a lack of trouble or violence, it is peace that we can access in the midst of all that. Jesus has overcome the world and we are over-comers through Him. We can’t be conquerors and over-comers if there are no problems to overcome or no mountains to conquer.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.–James 1:2-5 NIV
Why do Christians have to endure trials and persecutions? I suppose people have been asking this question since the first century. The disciples never quite understood why Jesus had to suffer and die until after the Resurrection. God does not allow us to go through suffering so that He will know where we are on our journey, He allows it so that we will know. He allows it so that our “I can” will turn into “No, I can’t but God can”. “No pain, no gain” applies to spiritual growth as well as physical. Would understanding the “why” really make the pain any less real or painful? I am sure that since Jesus was in on the plan of redemption, He understood the why, but that didn’t keep Him from asking His Father if there might not be another way. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”–Matt. 26:42 NIV
It is not a sin to wonder or to question “why?”. It is only a sin when we take it to the point of being disobedient. We need to pray for wisdom, but when we pray for wisdom, we need to understand that acquiring wisdom requires experiencing a lot of things and some of them will be painful.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.–Luke 9:23 NIV