25. ARM YOURSELF-SUFFERING IS PART OF THE CHRISTIAN’S STORY
(The Information & Edification Series)
Some false Preachers, Prophets and Teachers spread lies from the pulpit, giving the world the false impression, that once they come to the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender their lives to him, that everything will be perfect from then on and all of their problems will be over. People then come, not because they really want the Lord but because they’ve been promised a better earthly life and in particular, more materialistic acquisitions.
Allow me to debunk that myth and burst that fictitious bubble, through the authoritative Word of God.
Truth be told, when you come to Christ, not to get stuff but to serve him because he created you and is Lord, he gives you strength for each day and yes, he will bless you in your earthly endeavours with some good things. However, you WILL NOT get everything you hope to acquire. Furthermore, the Lord does not just bless with what we consider to be ‘good things’. No. He blesses the Christian with chastening (which is painful and unpleasant punishment for disobedience, allowed by God because it is necessary to grow him or her spiritually) and with fiery trials and sufferings.
See, God’s idea of ‘blessings’ is not limited to how we see it. He has guaranteed spiritual blessings to his children and he very often uses pain and affliction to deliver such blessings. For, it is a blessing to grow in relationship with him and knowledge of him and sometimes, pain and suffering are the only tools that will get us to that place of spiritual maturity.
People today want to take everything from the Christian experience, except the suffering but truth be told, once you are a true Christian, you have to suffer. It is an intrinsic and essential part of the Christian experience. All true Christians are called to suffer, in ways we would rather not. It is what we signed up for. See, the Master of our faith suffered and following his example, sufferings are also appointed and allowed by God for us.
1 Peter 2:20-20 states:
- “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, SUFFERING wrongfully. For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and SUFFER for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. FOR EVEN HEREUNTO WERE YE CALLED: because Christ also SUFFERED for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps…”
1 Peter 4:1,12-13 also states:
- “Forasmuch then as Christ hath SUFFERED for you in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind…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…”
In 2 Timothy 3:10-12, Paul stated of his Christian experience:
- “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, LONGSUFFERING, charity, patience, PERSECUTIONS, AFFLICTIONS, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what PERSECUTIONS I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION.”
We cannot expect to experience the blessings and resurrection power of God and not be willing to also experience and identify with the sufferings of Christ. He suffered on the cross, BEFORE he was resurrected from the dead.
Paul, desiring to being more intimately acquainted with the knowledge of Jesus Christ, stated:
- “…I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have SUFFERED the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his SUFFERINGS, being made conformable unto his death ;If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-14)
Hebrews 13:12 states: “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, SUFFERED without the gate.”
Likewise, when we are serving Christ and submitting to his will, even where we do not bring suffering upon ourselves through our own disobedience (as we sometimes do), we WILL suffer persecution, suffer disappointment, suffer loss, suffer deprivation, suffer betrayal, suffer attacks, suffer imprisonment, suffer sickness, suffer ostracism, suffer loneliness, suffer unfulfilled godly desires, suffer shame, suffer false accusation, suffer ridicule, suffer belittlement, suffer heartbreak, suffer misunderstanding, suffer criticism, suffer hatred, suffer unpopularity, suffer discomfort and some will even suffer with their very lives as martyrs because that is what it means to be a Christian.
As Christians, we should therefore arm ourselves with that mentality and prepare for the inescapable ‘not so good seasons’ that God has appointed to come. You will never have days only of glorious sunshine and things will not work out for you exactly as you had hoped or dreamed. God in his wisdom, has appointed and permitted painful storms and disappointments for you to experience and when he is done with your life, it will be one that brings HIM glory, however he sees it fit to achieve this.
Before a person surrenders to Christ, it is important that they know this, so that they don’t come with misguided motives. This is why Jesus encouraged those that would come after him, to count the cost IN ADVANCE of being a follower of him. For, following him can at times be very painful and could cost you everything, although it is worth it. You may lose family members, friends, a spouse, a job, a promotional opportunity, your finances and much more but all of that fades in comparison when compared to the spiritual (not earthly) riches you will gain in Christ Jesus.
In Luke 14:27-30 Jesus stated:
- “And whosoever doth not BEAR HIS CROSS, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, SITTETH NOT DOWN FIRST, AND COUNTETH THE COST, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”
In Philippians 3:10 and 12, Paul stated in his contemplation of Jesus Christ, that he esteemed him as worth the loss of everything he had acquired in this life. He had counted the cost in following Jesus and he had no regrets, despite what he lost. He said:
- “…I COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSS for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have SUFFERED the loss of all things, and do COUNT THEM BUT DUNG, that I may win Christ…That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, AND the fellowship of his SUFFERINGS, being made conformable unto his death.”
Jesus in his farewell statements to his disciples before he was crucified, did not try to sugar-coat the sufferings that they would go through for his sake or pretend that everything would be easy and lovely in this life. He made it clear that they would endure sufferings but sought to encourage them in advance, to keep their eyes on him, he who would have also suffered in this life but then rose from the dead as a Victor.
In John 16:33, he told them: “…in the world YE SHALL HAVE TRIBULATION: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Later on, when he had risen, gone back to heaven and then appeared to John, who was in the Spirit, Jesus instructed him to write what he was seeing in a book and to send what Jesus told him, to the seven then Churches in Asia.
To the Church of Smyrna which was going through tribulation (suffering) and poverty, Jesus stated in Revelations 2:8-11:
- “…These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and TRIBULATION, and POVERTY, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things WHICH THOU SHALT SUFFER: behold, the devil SHALL CAST some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and YE SHALL HAVE TRIBULATION ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
In closing, I will just end with two points:
Firstly, there are those who the world and even some who have professed Christ are looking down at as failures because of the sufferings they have been through and are going through, when God is looking at those very people and saying “With these children, I am well pleased.”
Secondly, suffering is a hallmark of EVERY true Christian. If you are not suffering for Christ in anyway and life is always good, if you’ve had to give up nothing and sacrifice nothing and turn your back on nothing and if you’ve never gone through anything that resembles what the early Church went through for the sake of Christ, then you should seriously examine yourself, whether you are truly in the faith or not.
If you say you are in the faith and are rightly focused and are doing God’s work and are submitted to his will, then my question to you is this: Why is the devil not after you?
(Written on 24th August, 2018, added to thereafter)
Dear Reader, if you found this Article useful or interesting, then you will surely also be interested in reading the following Articles for more tips, information and details:
- Note 64 – ‘Pain – God’s Tool For Our Spiritual Development’
- Note 30 – ‘The Price Tag Of Success’
- Note 70 – ‘The Pain I felt In My Series Of Pit Experiences’