Suffering is part of human life. You are not the only person facing difficulties today. The difference is in the way we deal with adversities. Meditate on this post and learn how to overcome the moments of suffering in your life.
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The Meaning of Suffering
How can a person like the apostle Paul say that he rejoices in his sufferings? And Jesus, who in promising rewards to his disciples includes suffering in the benefit package?
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.Jesus, Gospel of Mark 10:29-30
Suffering is a very ambiguous term. It may refer to misfortune, for example, if a subject “suffers the consequences of his own error.” Or express patience and persistence, as love “suffers all things, believes all things, expects all things, endures all things”.
Pressure and Persecution
The Bible says that whoever chooses Jesus as lord of his life will suffer persecution. This is a good definition of the suffering promised by Jesus. I accept this kind of suffering because persecution will prove me to be a genuine servant of Christ.
Unfortunately the church of Jesus has been serving a very light message, especially here in the West. Suffering is synonymous with something wrong in that teaching. But Jesus was very sincere in presenting his message.
In fact you will face suffering with or without Jesus. The world is evil. Therefore, never think that by choosing a noble life, practicing the values of the Kingdom of God, everyone around you will open the doors and smile at you.
Jesus Suffered for All Our Sins
Suffering according to the Bible is a good thing, very good as long as you are united with Christ. On the other hand, far from him, even the best ice cream or heaven would be bad. The only way to live well despite suffering is to be in Christ.
He knows the real meaning of suffering. Jesus suffered in our place far more than we can suffer for him. One of the prophecies he fulfilled was what the prophet Isaiah announced.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;The Prophet Isaiah 53:5
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
He suffered to death so that our suffering is just that privilege of representing him here on earth, while the world opposes our life in Christ.
Suzan Bozarth says that “one of the most encouraging word to say to people in suffering is ‘This is temporary‘”. Great truth. As hard as a problem is, it will surely pass. And our difficulties will help us better support the people around us as we can identify with them.
For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us!Apostle Paul, letter to the Romans 8:18
What is not suffering
But note that not every problem is the kind of suffering Jesus declared to his disciples. We should not confuse the consequences of our bad choices and the enemy’s attacks with biblical suffering. God is good and he only does good, yet uncomfortable and hard to accept for a moment.
How can we identify a problem that does not fit with a disciple of Jesus? What kinds of suffering should a Christian refuse?
The life you have guaranteed in Christ always includes peace, prosperity and health. Any teaching that subtracts these blessings from a person claiming to be biblical suffering is wrong.
Biblical suffering is not disease
The Bible never admits sickness because a person unites with Christ. In fact, it is very clear in showing that integral health for your spirit, soul, and physical body is a legal right of a Christian. Jesus paid a very high price to give you access to full health.
This week we heard from a young woman who, after undergoing several doctors and undiagnosed tests for her health condition, wrote Bible verses on sticky paper and placed them on her ailing body. She declared those health promises and was healed. I have also been miraculously healed. Jesus heals. That’s the truth.
Biblical suffering does not motivate poverty
Moreover, you will never find a vow of poverty in the Bible. But you will find many promises of blessing and wealth mixed. There are so many special Bible verses for me, and this is one of them. I declare this truth over my family every day:
The blessing of the Lord makes rich,King Salomon, Proverbs 10:22
and he adds no sorrow with it.
The Bible talks about the importance of generosity to our prosperity. This is one of the teachings that have marked our family. God is extremely generous.
My mother says he is glad to bless his children. And his blessing always includes wealth, never poverty. When Jesus says that his disciples will have afflictions, he does not mean scarcity at all.
Biblical suffering does not consent with anxiety
In being united with Jesus, do not admit any worry, anxiety or apprehension as Christian suffering. God would never give you something to make your body sick, disturb your sleep, or take your focus off an efficient life.
Interestingly, the Bible tells us not to live anxiously. We should cast all anxiety upon God because He cares for us. And the way we do that is by praying with thanksgiving. If anxiety were not a choice, God’s Word would not be inconsistent to tell us not to live anxiously.
The Undeniable Reality of Suffering and the Options Available to You
Suffering became a fact in nature corrupted by human sin. This is not God’s will, but a consequence of the fall for disobedience.
Once this undeniable reality of suffering in the world is present, there are only 2 options for you to choose how to position yourself. And it will make all the difference to your quality of life, your family and your future.
1. Life and Blessing
As you live in Christ, you will suffer persecution. The word I find most in the Bible to refer to this reality is the Greek thlipseon, which means persecution, affliction, tribulation. The origin of these terms refers to the idea of pressure. This is why, for example, many refugees leave their land to seek asylum in other countries.
Jesus suffered far beyond that. The Bible says that he was voluntarily made sick, in pain, and died guilty of our sins. By his complete work on the cross, we have abundant life regardless of external circumstances. You are entitled to a blessed life in Christ.
I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”Jesus, Gospel of John 16:33
Staying united with Jesus is the best way for you to live. Sing praises to the only One who is worthy. Declare God’s word out loudly to yourself and your surroundings. Develop a relationship of deep communion with the Holy Spirit in your daily life.
2. Curse and Death
The not recommended option is the complaint. God told the people of Israel that before them were the blessing and the curse. And he told them to choose the blessing. It’s like an objective question with 2 alternatives and God tells us the right answer.
Carlito Paes warns us that to complain is to talk about your problems to those who can’t solve it. With this attitude a person just steps back instead of moving forward. Stop looking at your own life as if your emotions, desires and mistakes were the most important. An egocentric, comforting life will not bring you the results you need.
It is better to give preference. This gives you an opportunity for others to make the way before you. Then you will walk with more freedom, security and tranquility. Here’s how the apostle Paul hit the Corinthian church hard:
The very fact that you have legal disputes among yourselves shows that you have failed completely. Would it not be better for you to be wronged? Would it not be better for you to be robbed?Apostle Paul, letter to the 1Corinthians 6:7
Have no doubt that you will suffer. Maybe you are already suffering a lot. Although this is not God’s will for your life, the world is evil and we need to be wise. Adversity exists for everyone, with or without Jesus.
By choosing to suffer with Jesus you will enjoy peace, health and prosperity. The world will exert pressure on all sides. But courage, keep going! Keep worshiping God, declaring God’s Word out loud, and sharing your needs with Him in prayer. Jesus has overcome the world and so will you.
Prayer: God, I acknowledge your goodness and your loyal love. I choose to unite myself with you in Jesus. I ask that you help me to persist and go through every difficulty in my life. May your Holy Spirit be my counselor and help me today and always in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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