Any form of suffering is good and far preferable to any form of luxury.
For some reason, certain Christians like to focus on Bible verses about suffering. Rather than look at the numerous times that the Bible talks about God’s desire to bless us, they prefer to focus on the relatively few verses that talk about suffering as Christians. Verses such as 2 Corinthians 1:5, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” or 1 Peter 4:13, “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“. Whilst these Christians will find reasons why the Bible doesn’t really promise healing, or prosperity or protection from harm, etc; they are firm in their belief, that partaking in Christ’s sufferings means that we should suffer hardship in life. They believe that any form of suffering is good and far preferable to any form of luxury. They believe that it is better to be poor than to be rich, better to be sick than to be in health, etc. But is that really what the verses that talk of suffering actually mean?
Why do we have to suffer if Jesus has already suffered?
Isaiah 53:4 says, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” and Matthew 8:17 quotes this verse as, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses“. So if Jesus has already born all these things for us, why would Paul say in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”? Why do we have to suffer, if Jesus has already suffered? Did Jesus suffer, just so that we can suffer too? Surely that doesn’t make sense. The same Christians that usually warn against taking the Bible literally, are quick to take the suffering verses totally literally, and in so doing they miss what God is really saying. You see, the Bible is not saying that we should suffer as the devil beats us again and again. It is not saying that we are supposed to stand there quietly whilst he throws things at us, and as long as we maintain our faith in God we are the victors. How could it mean that when Romans 8:37 refers to us as “more than conquerors“? How can we be supposed to live in lack or in sickness, or both, when according to 1 John 3:8, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil?
There is enough suffering in the world already.
Our lives are supposed to be attractive to those in the world (i.e. non-believers). If we think that a life of suffering is attractive, then we are kidding ourselves. There is enough suffering in the world already – Jesus came to remove lack, sickness etc, not add to it. Sure, people have respect for those who willingly suffer, but they don’t usually desire to have the sort of life that is being demonstrated. So then, if we have misunderstood what the Bible means by suffering, what does it mean? The answer is that the Bible is referring to us suffering as we take our stand against the forces of darkness. It is referring to spiritual warfare as detailed in Ephesians 6:13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”. We are supposed to be using the shield of faith to protect us from whatever the devil is throwing. The sufferings that the Bible refers to are mainly spiritual sufferings – resisting the devil is not for the fainthearted. It takes perseverance to take your stand against sin, against poverty, against sickness, or against whatever area of the curse you are facing. It is all too easy to give in and sin, or to give in to whatever the devil is throwing at you. Taking your stand is a fight, and there is suffering involved; but if you continue to stand, you are guaranteed the victory. A victory, which actually looks like a victory!
We need to open our eyes to the deception that has permeated the church.
I saw an article recently about suffering as a missionary. The idea that missionaries are supposed to suffer is typical of the sort of thinking that has kept much of the Church downtrodden. This is yet another of the devil’s lies, designed to keep us under control, to ensure that we never become too much of a threat to him. Missionaries are not supposed to suffer, missionaries are supposed to demonstrate God’s goodness to those that they are sent to. They are supposed to show people the way out of their suffering, not join them in it. We need to open our eyes to the deception that has permeated the church. As I have said before and will likely say again, we need to study diligently Deuteronomy 28, so that we are no doubt, which things are under the category of curse and which are under the category of blessing. If people our living under the curse, God is not calling us to live under the curse with them! We need to meditate on John 10:10 and make sure that we don’t get Jesus’ purpose muddled up with Satan’s – it’s shocking how often that seems to happen. It’s time to rise up, refuse to accept Satan’s lies any longer and put him under our feet.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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