St. James says: “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience”. (James 5:10) The prophets of old suffered much and they will not be privileged to be a part of this heavenly kingdom class; but their suffering was for a two-fold purpose: (1) to develop them, which will result to their benefit when they are resurrected as perfect men; and (2) to serve as examples for the church, the followers of Jesus.
Jesus said: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”. (Matthew 11:12) Here he showed that the kingdom-of-heaven class, meaning the royal family, suffers violence at the hands of the adversary’s instruments, and the violent ones take these by force. It was so of him; it has been so of his followers, as St. Paul writes: “Our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation".—2 Corinthians 1:7.
But why should the Christian suffer? you may ask. And the Apostles answer: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.... Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:12-14,16) “It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”—Hebrews 2:10,11.
Again the apostle Paul shows that the Christian does not complain because of persecution and suffering; neither does he murmur against God. But the true sentiment of his heart is expressed in the words of the Apostle: “We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit which is given unto us”. (Romans 6:3-5) Again says the Apostle: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us".—Romans 8:18.