The answer is BOTH YES and NO !
But ALSO be assured that in the things that YOU as a Christian
MAY at times SUFFER, ALSO KNOW that God's wants
A question that is often asked by most Christians at one time or another is, “Must I suffer as a Christian?” For the answer to this question, as with any question concerning faith, we should turn to the word of God, and not just rely on personal experience in the past and what brother or sister so and so THINKS. Always go to the word of God to base your faith upon.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16,
“For all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”
However, sometimes we have to unlearn, so to speak, some things that we have been TAUGHT in order to come to the knowledge of the truth of God’s word, because we may have NOT received the WHOLE word of God on what you have been TAUGHT. I emphasize the word "TAUGHT", because everything we believe is because we have been TAUGHT to believe that way. Therefore in order to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH we need to lay aside our preconceived ideas that we just continue to blindly parrot or repeat, because this is what we have been taught all our lives. Now please understand and know that those that have falsely taught us these things that are misguided beliefs are being taught to us with all sincerity of heart as being true, because those that teach these false doctrine did not thoroughly search the word of God, the WHOLE word of God, to prove for themselves that what they themselves were taught was the truth. In other words, those who taught us are merely REPEATING what they themselves were TAUGHT and sincerely believe that what they were TAUGHT is the truth. However we need to go to the word of God in order to make sure that what we are being TAUGHT is in fact the TRUTH of the WHOLE word of God.
We are told in Acts 17:11 that when Paul and Silas preached the word of God to the Jews at Berea that they received the word with all readiness of mind. And because of their eagerness to receive the word of God they were called noble. It would be profitable for every Christian to follow the example set forth by these men at Berea, and diligently apply it to our lives as well.
The example they set was that they searched the word of God DAILY to see if the things that Paul and Silas were telling them were true. It is vital that we base our faith on the scriptures ALONE and not upon man's interpretation of God's word. So how do we know the difference?
The word of God teaches us in 2 Timothy 2:15 to study the scriptures to show ourselves approved unto God, workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Sometimes we think we already know what God’s word says, because of the things that we have been taught in the past which we have blindly accepted as being the truth of God's word. But in reality some of these things that we have been taught are nothing but the traditions of men, which seem logical to us, because we do not step back and examine them in the light of the WHOLE word of God. Therefore some Christians are being deceived and these false teachings have led them astray and have kept them from walking in the in reality victory that God has provided for us.
Proverbs 4:12 tells us that,
“There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
However, if we do as Proverbs 3:5,6 says and,
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to your own understanding and acknowledge him, then he will direct our paths.”
We must humble ourselves by admitting that our ways are not his ways and acknowledge him by giving his word first place in our lives. Romans 12:2 tells us that our minds need to be RENEWED with his living word in order that we will no longer be conformed to this world, but rather we must have our minds transformed by the word of God in order that we may have the mind of Christ. It is only through hiding God’s word in our hearts that we will be able to PROVE what is that perfect and acceptable WILL of God.
So let’s turn now to the word of God to PROVE what is that good and acceptable WILL of God for us as Christians concerning SUFFERING. We will first take a look at the scriptures that definitely show that we as Christians will at times SUFFER things like persecution and temptation. Now while you are reading these verses, I want you to pay CLOSE ATTENTION and take note that NONE of them teach us that we as Christians must suffer things like sickness and disease, or tragedy.
Let us begin with Romans 8:17,18 which says,
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we SUFFER with him, that we may be also glorified together with him. For I reckon that the SUFFERINGS of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
So IF you are a child of God and and a joint heir with Jesus, then SUFFERING is part of God plan for us, so that he may reward us in the world to come. Also we see that it is GIVEN to us as Christians not ONLY to believe upon Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, but also to SUFFER for his name sake. Please read Philippians 1:29,30, that says,
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not ONLY to believe on him, but ALSO to SUFFER for his sake; Having the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”
Then we read in 1 Peter 4:1,2, where we are to have this mindset that SUFFERING things for the kingdom of God and SUFFERING temptation is the WILL of God. SUFFERING is part of our WALK with the Lord. However as you have seen thus far there is ABSOLUTELY NO mention of SUFFERING sickness and disease for the glory of God.
“For as much then as Christ has SUFFERED for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he that has SUFFERED in the flesh has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lust of men, but to the WILL of God.”
And then we are told in 1 Peter 4:13 that we are to REJOICE in the fact that we are allowed to be partakers in SUFFERING for sake of Jesus Christ, because we KNOW that in the end when his glory is revealed we also will be glorified and be filled with exceeding great joy.
“But REJOICE, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s SUFFERINGS; that when his glory shall be revealed you may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
So then, the Bible makes it perfectly clear from these scriptures which we have just read that we as Christians that there are going to be times that we are going to SUFFER things like persecution and temptations. Yes, there are times in our lives that we must endure SUFFERING for the Lord. However, if we stop right here with our study of God’s word concerning the “Attitude of God” toward suffering, then our adversary, the devil, can use these very same scriptures against us by twisting them and taking them out of context.
Let me explain what I mean. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 that the devil goes about to and fro in the earth seeking whom he may devour. Then, when he finds some unsuspecting Christian who does not know the word of God the devil then deceives them into believing that God sometimes sends sickness upon his children to chastise them and teach them something. The devil then oppresses them with some type of sickness or disease and DECEIVES them into believing that they must SUFFER this “cross” of sickness or tragedy for Christ sake, because God has ALLOWED this tragedy or sickness to come upon them to teach them something, and somehow God will be glorified. Now while it is sometimes true that some of these tragic situations are turned around and God does in fact get glory from some overcoming these tragic circumstances, it is also equally true that many do NOT be God glory in ANY way. Yes, God is ABLE to turn that tragic situation around, which the enemy has intended for harm and destruction. Yes God is capable to cause GOOD to come out of ANY circumstance, but this does NOT mean that these TRAGEDIES are God's WILL for us.
You must always remember that Satan is not only a liar, but also the father of lies, and he will twist the truth of God’s word to try and deceive you. But the Bible assures us in
2 Corinthians 2:11 that we are NOT to be ignorant of the devices, tricks and lies of the devil that he should get an advantage over us as Christians. You see the devil has NO power over you than the power you yourself give to him, because you are ignorant of the TRUTH of God's word. The Bible teaches that we are destroyed by our LACK of knowledge.
Paul gives us some excellent instruction and we will do well if we take heed and follow it. He tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:1 for us to be followers of him as he also follows Christ. Then in
1 Peter 2:21 we find that Jesus is again to be our example and we should follow in his footsteps. Therefore let us turn again to the word of God and examine the lives of Jesus, Paul, the apostles, and the early church to see what things they SUFFERED, so that we do NOT suffer other things NEEDLESSLY at the hand of the ENEMY, Satan, the devil.
Let us begin with Acts 5:41, which says,
"And they departed from the presence of the council, REJOICING that they were counted worthy to SUFFER (suffer what?) SHAME for his name .
Then Jesus tells us in Luke 21:12 that,
“ They shall lay hands on you and (what) PERSECUTE you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my names sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.”
Jesus also tells us in John 15:20 that,
“If they have persecuted me, then they will also PERSECUTE you.”
Jesus, Paul, the apostles, and the early church all SUFFERED persecution. Therefore we also as Christians shall SUFFER PERSECUTION from time to time.
2 Timothy 3:12 says it like this,
“Yea and ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer (Again suffer what?) PERSECUTION.”
Now if we know that we are going to suffer persecution, then it would also be wise for us to know what things fall under this category of persecution. Also it would be beneficial to know from where persecution comes.
The American Heritage dictionary defines persecution as to oppress UNJUSTLY, to harass, to treat severely, and to trouble.
Matthew 5:11,12 tells us this about persecution.
“Blessed are you when MEN shall REVILE and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven.”
The word “revile” means to defame or abuse with language that is disgraceful, reproachful, or shameful. People will say things about you that simply are not the truth.
So how should we react or respond when we are reviled or persecuted? Well we all know what our carnal nature would do, but the Bible teaches us in Galatians 5:16 and in
Romans 8:4-9 that we are to walk after the spirit and NOT after the flesh. In other words we are to SUFFER through the temptation to do what are flesh is begging us to do, and be obedient to God’s word, and not give into our flesh. Persecution comes for the WORD'S sake, so don't take offense. You cannot be offended unless you ALLOW yourself to take offense. So just don't take it, leave the offense lie dormant.
Look at what Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:19,20,
“But when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speaks, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you.”
If we will learn to hold our tongue and wait upon the Lord, then the Holy Spirit will give us the words we need to speak. He will bring to our remembrance the words of Jesus when we are revile and persecuted,
“REJOICE and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven.”
It is up to us to make the CHOICE whether or not to obey God and REJOICE, or whether we will be deceived and listen to the lies of Satan and wallowing is self pity and misery.
Take a look at 1 Corinthians 4:12 which says,
“And labor working with our own hand: being reviled, (how do we respond?) we BLESS, being persecuted (how do we respond?) we SUFFER it: being defamed, (how do we respond?) we ENTREAT it.”
Remember being a Christian means to be “Christ like”. We are to follow the steps of Jesus.
We are told in 1 Peter 2:23 that when Jesus was reviled,
“He reviled not again, and when he suffered, he threatened not; but rather he committed himself to God.”
The Bible tells us in Romans 12:21 that we are to overcome evil with good. Matthew 5:44 says it like this,
“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them hat curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you.”
This is what Jesus did when they crucified him.
Look at Luke 20:34 which says,
“Father FORGIVE them: for they know not what they do”
Here is what we are told in Acts 16:25 that Paul and Silas did when they were beaten and thrown into prison. They prayed and sang praises unto God. And the example the early church left for us to follow was love, blessing, prayer, and forgiveness.
We are told in Acts 7:60 that as they stoned Stephen he prayed,
“Lord lay not this sin to their charge.”
These are the type of things that the Bible teaches us that we are to SUFFER, and goes on to say that we are to make he CHOICE to REJOICE in these times of suffering. But nowhere in the word of God will you find sound Biblical teaching that we are to SUFFER sickness and disease for Jesus sake, or as a cross we are to bare.
Now while it is true that the Bible clearly teaches that we may at times SUFFER things like SHAME, PERSECUTION, and BEING REVILED, and that we are to bless and curse not, it is as equally as true that God desires us to have PEACE and JOY in the MIDST of our SUFFERING these things. We will only be able to rejoice and be exceedingly glad in these types of circumstances and experience the joy and peace God wants us to have by committing ourselves to God the Father and staying focused upon his word.
Isaiah 26:3,4 says,
“You will keep him in PERFECT PEACE whose mind is STAYED on you, because he trusts in you, Trust you in the Lord forever, for the Lord Jehovah is EVERLASTING STRENGTH.”
The word of God assures us that we can have joy and peace in the MIDST of our suffering. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to REJOICE in the Lord always, and then reinforces it by saying AGAIN I say REJOICE. So why is all this emphasis being placed rejoicing? Remember that our ways, which seem right and logical to us, are not God’s way. God’s way for us to overcome in these circumstances is to begin to rejoice, give thanks and sing praises to our Lord, redeemer and king, and to stand fast upon the solid foundation of the word of God. Our flesh may not feel like rejoicing, but we are not to walk after the flesh. We may not in the mood to give God thanks and offer him praise, but we need to make the CHOICE to suffer and offer God a SACRIFICE of praise. It all comes down to a matter of choice.
Proverbs 13:23 tells us that a man has JOY (how?) by the ANSWER of his mouth. How are you going to answer or respond to circumstances? If you want to be victorious and be an over comer in the time of your trials, then you must make the choice to be obedient to the word of God and REJOICE and be EXCEEDINGLY GLAD by FAITH regardless of how you feel or what you see.
You need not be discouraged in the midst of persecutions. You are not alone. The scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 4:29 that the early church was troubled on every side, YET they were not distressed. They were perplexed or caused great difficulties, BUT they were not in despair. They were persecuted, BUT not forsaken. And they were cast down, BUT not destroyed.
Romans 8:31 says,
“If God be for us who can be against us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall TRIBULATION or DISTRESS or PERSECUTION or FAMINE or NAKEDNESS or PERIL or SWORD? NAY, (or as we would say today, Not a chance! No way!) But in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ”.
In the gospel of John 16:33 Jesus says,
“In the world you will have tribulation, BUT be of GOOD CHEER for I have OVERCOME (conquered) the world”.
However in order to overcome we must first be a doer of the word of God and to make the choice to be of good cheer. In other words, we are to choose to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and then we can have the same testimony that the early church had as we are told in
2 Timothy 3:11,
"What persecutions I endures, but out of them ALL the Lord DELIVERED me."
God is no respecter of persons, he will always be faithful to honor his word, and what he did for Paul and the early church God will also do for us.
Now while it is true that God’s word clearly teaches that we may sometimes suffer things like persecution the Bible does not teach that God himself brings persecution upon us. Notice that the above scripture says that the LORD delivered Paul. If God brought the persecution upon us to teach us something, and then turned around and delivered us, this would be a kingdom divided against itself. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:25 that ANY kingdom divided against itself could not stand. Some Christians have this misconception that every thing that happens is because God is in control and therefore it must be God’s WILL. This simply is not true. It has no solid Biblical foundation on which to stand.
For instance violent storms and so-called “natural disasters” are often blamed on God. These awful devastating things are many times falsely called “acts of God”. Many times Christians have wrongly perceived the attitude of God, because scriptures are often misquoted or taken out of context.
Let me give you an example. A preacher might say something like “God is in complete control of everything”, and then quote a verse of scripture like Psalms 89:8,9, which says,
“O Lord God of host, who is a strong Lord like unto you? … You RULE the RAGING of the sea…”
And then they try to comfort someone who lost a loved one in a flood by saying something like, 'God moves in mysterious ways and we do not always understand why these things happen, but we know that God is in control'. And therefore then leaving these people with a FALSE representation of Almighty God that he is to be BLAMED for these tragedies so that he may receive glory. But as I said before God does not ALWAYS receive glory from these tragic events or situations that we sometimes face. For you see my dear brothers and sister in the Lord, by quoting only PART of this scripture in this hypothetical situation is a misrepresentation of the true perception of God, and has left some with a doctrine that is NOT BIBLICAL. Some are left believing that because they hear that God RULES the sea, then he is in control and therefore is responsible for the floods or storms. By such false teachings, such as this, some Christians have wrongly perceived that God RULES the sea in the sense of making or causing the raging waves. Then they begin questioning, "Why all this destruction and evil God? If you would truly like to know WHY? Then please read the study entitled "UNDERSTANDING WHY?" which explains why God ALLOWS evil in the world.
It is true that God is ultimately in control and that Psalms 89:9 says,
“You rule the raging of the sea.”
However, the scripture was taken out of context and was therefore misinterpreted. This same verse of scripture goes on to say,
“You RULE the raging of the sea, WHEN the waves thereof arise (become a raging storm, and start to get out of control), you STILL them.”
You see if God was the cause of the storms or raging sea, then when Jesus, the Son of God, calmed the sea, he was dividing the kingdom of God against itself. Therefore by God’s very own word this would mean that the kingdom of God could not stand. Now if that is true, then what is the point of anything? NO God does NOT rule the sea by causing storms and making the waves rage, but rather God RULES the sea by STILLING the sea, when the waves begin to rage, IF we as Christians stand in the gap and PRAY with unwavering faith and use the AUTHORITY and DOMINION that we have been given over the earth.
If we are to have FAITH in God to deliver us from persecutions, storms, sickness and disease, and such things like tragedies, then we cannot in any way believe God brings these things upon his people to teach them something. For you see if God was the one causing all these things in order to teach you something, then how could you ever have faith for him to deliver you? Think about this for a minute. If this were true, how would you know when he was done teaching you? How would you know when to say enough is enough and start believing him to deliver you? There would always be that hint of doubt (wavering) that maybe the reason you are still being persecuted or sick is because God is still trying to teach you something. You cannot possibly have FAITH if you truly believe God is responsible for bringing persecution in your life. The SAME is also true if you believe God sends sickness and disease, storms or tragedy upon people in order to teach them something, or to prepare them so that they might be able to comfort someone else, who at a later time may go through the same type of thing. It is important for us to know where persecution comes from. Likewise it is important for us to know where sickness and disease, storms and tragedy come from. The THIEF comes not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Now God may turn what the enemy meant for evil and turn it to your good and you will be able to help another through a similar situation, but God does not brings these things upon mankind to teach them. We bring these things upon ourselves, because we do not obey God's commands and his word.
Revelation 2:10 tells to,
“Fear NONE of those things which you shall SUFFER; behold the DEVIL shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried”
Notice that it is the devil that brought the persecution.
Then James 1:13 says,
“Let no man say when he is tempted (tried) I am tempted (tried, tested) of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man.”
It is perfectly clear from these scriptures that persecution comes from the Devil, called Satan and NOT God. Also I might add that Satan does not physically take us and cast us into prison and persecute us, but rather he is the driving force behind the ones he has deceived into yielding to him. It may be a fellow brother or sister in Christ yielding their self to the deception of the enemy and persecute you. It is not people who we are at war with, but rather our adversary the devil, so don't take offence with the person for it is the spirit behind the person that is our enemy.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not war against flesh and blood (man or people); but against principalities and power, against rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Our fight is NOT with God. We do not have to beg him to heal our sick baby. God is for us not against us. Our ONLY enemy is Satan. It is not man, but the evil spirit behind man deceiving him into bringing persecution upon us. That is why we need to pray for them that despite-fully use and persecute us. That is why Jesus tells us to forgive them for they know not what they do. Those that persecute us are walking in ignorance as we once did ourselves in times past.
Wow! I seem to have gotten off of the subject at hand, which is to Biblical establish those things which we as Christians are to SUFFER, and to open your eyes of understanding to the truth that sickness and disease is in no way part of those things that Christians must suffer. Let’s do a quick review of the things we have looked at thus far concerning the types of things we might suffer as Christians. So far we have looked at PERSECUTION, BEING REVILED, SUFFERING SHAME, BEING SHAMEFULLY ENTREATED, BEING FALSELY ACCUSED, BEING DEFAMED, BEING TROUBLED FOR THE NAME OF JESUS, BEING BEATEN, BEING THROWN IN PRISON, and even BEING MARTYRED FOR OUR LORD.
Now something very closely related to persecution is that of REPROACHES. The word "reproach" means to censure, to upbraid or rebuke, to discredit, to be an object of scorn, and to criticize adversely. 1Timothy 4:10 tells us that we must at times suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God. But at this same time we find comfort with these words found in
1Peter 4:14, which says,
“If you be REPROACHED for the name of Christ, HAPPY ARE YOU, for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he (speaking of Jesus) is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”
After reading this scripture we have a better understanding of why Paul said,
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory (rejoice) in mine infirmities (weaknesses) that the power of Christ (the anointing) may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Paul took pleasure and rejoiced in his sufferings for Christ’s sake.
Philippians 4:11 says it like this,
“For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
In other words no matter what the situation or circumstances Paul was in, he LEARNED the secret that let him LIVE APART from the circumstances around him. The secret that Paul learned is REJOICING and PRAISING God, until the glory of God is resting upon us. In other words the secret is to be full of the Holy Spirit and in the presence of God. For in the presence of God there is GREAT JOY and the JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH. He is our PEACE.
Not only does God promise us that we can have peace and joy in the midst of our suffering, but the Bible assures us that God will deliver us out of them ALL. There is comfort in knowing that we will be delivered.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that in the world we will have TRIBULATION, but praise be to God he didn’t stop there. Jesus went on to say,
"But be of good cheer (why?) for I have OVERCOME the world."
God wants us to be joyful and cheerful, to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, to be happy and blessed, to be comforted and have perfect peace right in the MIDST of our sufferings. The reason being is that when we maintain this type of attitude it enables God to deliver us and set us free, so that we too may follow the example of Jesus and OVERCOME the world as well.
Sometimes in the natural you may feel, “why me Lord, why me?” Here is something that I have learned that has set me free from this type of attitude. Always remember that it is not because of you that the persecutions come, but rather persecutions come for the word’s sake. Satan is after the word of God that has been sown in your heart. Matthew 13:21 and Mark 4:17 tells us that tribulation, persecution, and affliction arises or comes for the words’ sake.
Think about this for a moment. If Satan can put enough pressure on you through persecution to cause you to cast away your confidence in God’s word, then he will defeat you every time. If Satan can steal the word of God that has been sown in your heart, then you will be overcome, because it is ONLY through the word of God that causes your faith to arise within your spirit. Therefore, if there is no word of God hidden in our hearts then this means that there is NO FAITH which is readily available to use at that moment when the enemy attacks us. And it is through our FAITH that we overcome the god of this world. Now you know why Satan works so hard to steal the word of God from our hearts. Jesus warned us of the importance of understanding this parable. So read the parable of the sower in both Matthew 13:18-23 and
Mark 4:14-20. Memorize it and KNOW for a certainty that when you hear the word of God and FAITH arises in you that your enemy SATAN will bring upon you a trial to try you in order for him to TRY and steal the word of God that has been sown in your heart. Remember the Bible teaches us that Satan goes around SEEKING whom he may devour. In other words, Satan can NOT devour you, UNLESS YOU YOURSELF LET him. So therefore RESIST the Devil and he WILL without fail FLEE from you.
The Bible tells us in Acts 14:22 that,
“We must through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God.”
The American Heritage dictionary defines tribulation as prolonged suffering or distress, especially that of the mind, and to be severely afflicted. However, there is a good side to tribulation.
Look at 2 Corinthians 1:3,4.
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of ALL COMFORT. Who comforts us in ALL our TRIBULATIONS, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Jesus said in John 14:18 that he would not leave us comfortless.
And Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 7:4-6,
“I am filled with comfort, I am exceedingly joyful in ALL our TRIBULATION.”
From these scriptures we can again clearly see that God desires us to have joy, peace and comfort in the midst of our suffering. However we are the ones that are in control of our own ATTITUDES and how we respond to the circumstance that come into our life. We have to make the CHOICE to have a positive attitude and to REJOICE and be GLAD. And not just glad, but EXCEEDINGLY glad.
In the parable of the sower we saw three types or areas of suffering that arose for the words’ sake, which are TRIBULATION, PERSECUTION, and AFFLICTION. Of these three areas we have already covered persecution and tribulation, and have found that they closely resemble each other. As we continue this study on suffering and look closely at this third area of suffering affliction, we will quickly see that it too is closely related to tribulation and persecution.
Affliction means to give continued pain to, to cause distress or grief in the body or mind.
Matthew 24:9 tells us that,
“They shall deliver you up to be AFFLICTED and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nation for my name’s sake.”
But if we are doers of the word and follow the example that Moses set we will have JOY in the midst of our suffering.
Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us that Moses suffered the AFFLICTION with the people of God, rather than to enjoy sin for a season. Moses esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (that is the world). It is all in the perspective that we perceive situations. How do we esteem things or circumstances?
We can have joy in abundance, as did the churches in Macedonia.
2 Corinthians 8:2 says,
“How that IN a great trial of AFFLICTION the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abound unto the riches of their liberality.”
The early church in Macedonia maintained their joy in the midst of their suffering, as did the church in Thessalonica. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 that they receive the word of God in much AFFLICTION, with JOY of the Holy Ghost.
Sometimes the things we suffer, such as affliction, come from without. In other word things like persecution, tribulation, and affliction come from outside the church body, that is to say they come from the world. For example when you first became a Christian you probably had some of your “so called” friends give you a real hard time about your faith. This type of treatment is AFFLICTION.
Philippians 1:6 says,
“They preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add AFFLICTION to my bonds.”
This type of mocking or teasing hurts. It brings anguish to the heart and mind. And it hurts even more, when it comes from those who you truly thought were your friends.
Now at other times AFFLICTION comes from within the body of Christ. A good example of this is found in
2Corinthians 2:4, which says
“For out of much AFFLICTION and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears.”
When we truly care for one another there can be a deep anguish of heart when those we love stray from the faith.
2 Corinthians 11:28 says it like this,
"Beside those things that are without, that which comes upon me daily, the CARE of all the churches."
Again, if we love the Lord and one another, then we will suffer with this CARE or anguish of heart for one another. The Bible also teaches us that we shall suffer AFFLICTION and DISTRESS. The word of God tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:26 that when one member of the body of Christ suffers then the whole body suffers with him.
Likewise, when one member rejoices we all rejoice with him, or her.
Take a look at 1 Thessalonians 3:7.
“Therefore brethren we were comforted over you in all our AFFLICTION and distress (how?) by your faith.”
You see we can be in the midst of a trial and hear of a sinner coming to the Lord, and this good news will lift us up and bring us joy. We can help one of our brothers or sisters in Christ grow spiritually and this will bring us joy. Or we can witness a fellow Christian gain a victory of healing over the enemy and this will cause us to rejoice. We are comforted by their faith, but the greatest joy comes from the KNOWING that God will deliver us out of ALL our AFFLICTION. (Acts7:10)
Another area of suffering that we don’t often think of or consider as a type of suffering is this thing called TEMPTATION. We have become so familiar with temptation, that we as Christians just accept it as part of being a Christian. Most of us don’t look at temptation as a type of suffering for the Lord, and yet there are many references in the word of God that speak of suffering TEMPTATION.
Hebrews 2:18 tells us this,
“For in that he himself (speaking of Jesus) hath suffered (how?) being TEMPTED, is able to succour (help) them (us) that are tempted.”
Then in Hebrews 4:15 we read,
“For we have an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (weaknesses); but was is all points TEMPTED as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus knows our weaknesses. He knows what it feels like to be tempted. He has been were you may be at this very moment, yet he SUFFERED through each and every temptation without giving in to sin. In other words Jesus ENDURED unto the end of each temptation, taking on one temptation at a time. To endure means to carry on through to the end DESPITE the hardships and suffering. The word “endure” literally means to harden ones heart against. We need to harden our hearts against sin to the point that even the mere thought of sin will disgusts us.
Thus far in this study on suffering we have been given the assurance that God will deliver us out of them ALL. Well in suffering temptation we are given the same assurance. 1
Corinthians 10:13 says,
“There has no TEMPTATION taken you, but such is common to man, but God is faithful who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Don’t get caught up in the deception of your FEELINGS, “Oh this is too hard, I just can’t help myself. This temptation is too great for me.” Remember the scripture says that Jesus is touched with the FEELINGS of our weaknesses. The word “touched” here literally means to sympathize with. Yes Jesus understands how hard it is at times to resist temptation, because he has been there and is able to sympathize with our FEELINGS, but he is our example to follow. Temptation is something we as Christians must SUFFER, but we are not to give into our lower nature. Giving in to sin is not an option. Jesus was tempted in every kind of way that we are tempted and yet he did not give into sin. Sin has NO MORE DOMINION over us.
You might have asked these questions, “Why the need for temptation anyway? What is the purpose of suffering things like persecution, tribulation, and affliction?
Perhaps 2 Thessalonians 1:4-6 may shed some light on these questions.
“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in ALL your persecutions and tribulations that you ENDURE: Which is a MANIFEST TOKEN of the righteous judgment of God, (why?) that you may be COUNTED WORTHY of the kingdom of God which you also suffer: SEEING it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.”
God’s word tells us in Hebrews 5:8 that Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. In resiting temptation and not giving in to what pleases us we are proving that we love God more than sin and thereby are ACCOUNTED WORTHY of the kingdom of God, IF so we CONTINUE to endure unto the end.
The problem is that for the most part we as Christians have taken the wrong attitude toward suffering. We tend to gripe and complain, rather than to do what the Bible teaches us to do when trials come our way.
James 1:2,3 tells us to do this when temptation comes.
“My brethren COUNT it all joy when you fall into divers temptations KNOWING this that the trying of your FAITH works patience.”
We need to rejoice and be exceedingly glad in the MIDST of our trials, because this type of attitude allows God to deliver us. It is our response to the trying of our FAITH that will determine whether or not we are delivered from the trial. 1Peter 1:7 tells us that the trying of our FAITH is more precious than gold.
The natural or carnal man will seek out pity or sympathy when suffering comes, but God wants us to walk in FAITH and COUNT or consider it all JOY. So how do we consider suffering to be joy?
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:23,
“A man has JOY (how?) by the answer of his mouth…”
You must make the CHOICE to rejoice.
“I will rejoice and be glad.”
Just make the decision by FAITH to rejoice and begin thanking and praising God for all the promises in his word to deliver you. You can choose to answer your trial with gripping and complaining or you can make the choice to answer with JOY. It all comes down to a choice. The word of God declares,
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”
If you are a Christian, then you are “the redeemed of the Lord", so start saying so. Begin declaring the word of God. I am healed, because the word of God says that with the stripes of Jesus I am healed. I am not going to give into this temptation, because the word of God says that sin has no more dominion over me. I am going to be able to make my house payment this month, because the word of God says that all my needs are met according to his riches in glory. I am not going to worry, because the word of God says to cast all my cares upon the Lord for he cares for me. You can have JOY in the MIDST of SUFFERING if you choose to have joy.
And what we choose in our heart to BELIEVE will be the very things we SPEAK forth out of our MOUTH. The is POWER in the words we speak whether you CHOOSE to BELIEVE it or not. Speaking words is a spiritual law, just like gravity is a physical law, and both work whether we BELIEVE in them or not. Both will either work FOR us or AGAINST us DEPENDING on how much we KNOW about them and then USE this knowledge to our ADVANTAGE. For a deeper understanding on this subject of speaking right words pleas read the study entitled "THE POWER OF YOUR WORDS"
Now all through this study on suffering I have found nowhere in the Bible that it is God’s WILL for us to suffer sickness and disease. I have compiled a comprehensive list of scriptures references that reveal all of the different types or things we may at times be required to suffer as Christians, and again nowhere is sickness and disease found among them.
In all these things that the Bible tells us that we as Christians must suffer at times there in no mention of suffering sickness or disease for Jesus’ sake. In this comprehensive list of 26 different areas of things we might suffer, there are only 2 things that even remotely could be taken to indicate the suffering of sickness or disease. These 2 areas of suffering are AFFLICTIONS and INFIRMITIES. These two words in today’s usage are often used in connection with sickness and disease. However, in the Bible affliction is always bought upon by another person to cause pain or suffering, and never refers to sickness or disease. The word infirmities is the only word that even remotely hints at being a bodily sickness, but in most cases it clearly portrays the meaning of WEAKNESS, as in spiritual weakness, growing faint. But there are a few instances in the Bible that the word infirmity indicates a bodily weakness. However, in these instances it is clear that it is ALWAYS God's will to restore strength and healing to the body that is bound by the enemy with an infirmity or weakness. For a deeper understanding of infirmities refer to the study entitled "BIBLE MEANING OF INFIRMITY."
Thanks for reading, may God bless you richly as you continue to seek the TRUTH of his Holy word.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
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