Thursday, March 10, 2011


Christian believers are not immune from suffering. In fact, sometimes it seems that sincere Christian believers suffer more than others! God has promised us many things, but He has not promised us immunity from suffering in this life. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." (Psalm 34:19). "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12). Suffering will be a reality for us in one form or another until Jesus returns. The issue of suffering is a complex one, since there are many kinds of suffering, many possible reasons for each kind, and often many perplexing mysteries. Our faith in the goodness of God may be tested through sufferings, and our responses to suffering in this life have the potential to make us or break us.
How convenient it would be for us if God somehow guaranteed that we will never be severely tested in this life - that all will be sweetness, comfort and prosperity! It is a false teaching, sadly often found in charismatic circles, that says that if we are in covenant with God we will escape serious suffering - either by simply rebuking it in Jesus name or by calling upon God, our covenant partner, who will immediately come and rescue us. No, God will rescue us, but it may well be that deliverance will not come about quickly as we would like. God has his reasons for this, and the answers are generally not simple, nor can we always know them while we are suffering.
There is sweetness, comfort and prosperity in the gospel, but there are also fiery trials, afflictions, sufferings, persecutions and rejection. Paul knew what it was to be abased, and he also knew how to abound -  sometimes he had more than enough, other times he suffered need and hunger (Philippians 4:12). This was not because he lacked faith, but because he had faith. True faith takes us out of the comfort zone into areas where we enter into conflict with Satan's kingdom and must demonstrate both patience and faith in the face of delays and difficulties. The person who has it as his goal to enjoy an easy life here and now is not following after love, but is living selfishly. God calls us to combat with a real enemy. Yes, He has given us power to overcome, but not without a fight (see teaching on spiritual warfare).

Our Response to Suffering

When we suffer, our response is very important. We need to remember that God still loves us, and while there is life, there is hope.  Don't allow discouragement and bitterness against God to enter your heart. Learn from the experiences of the children of Israel. Also try to get as many as possible to pray for you and your situation. This will help, but you still need patience.
Praise God!
Do not yield to discouragement because of suffering. This is one of the greatest battles we will ever face - the battle to stay encouraged and joyful. PRAISE is a major key to making it through trials. If offered sincerely, in faith, to God, it will help you get out of troubles faster than anything, and you will get stronger and feel less pain in the whole process, because God dwells in the praises of His people. Just consider how quickly God delivered Paul and Silas from the jail in Philippi when they praised Him in the middle of the night (Acts 16) ! This is a good example for us. Here is where major spiritual battles are won or lost. Praise God instead of grumbling. It will make the world of difference.