Is Suffering the Will of God?
One word as humans we do not want to hear is suffering. Unfortunately, this word and the act of it has being with mankind from the beginning of time. When one looks down the road of history, some of the greatest inventions, even if some were bizarre, came on the heels of suffering. When we come to the Bible, one of the descriptions of Christ is a “Man of Suffering”: He knew and understood what suffering and sickness were and their repercussions. For this reason, He was not afraid to bear the burdens of our sufferings and sicknesses. However, the bearing of these burdens did not mean that suffering especially has been banished from amongst children of God. On the contrary; He admonished us to walk as He did and be ready to be persecuted and suffer for righteousness and overcome just as He did. Thus, it is a terrible delusion to teach or believe that as children of God we will not suffer because it is not His will for us. Some even go as far as teaching that the reason certain portions of His Body is suffering is because God is angry with them. But Apostles Peter and Paul by the Holy Spirit encouraged us not to see suffering as a punishment from God but as a way of preparation and purifying in order to enjoy and bask in the glory that will be revealed when Jesus Christ appears. It is paramount that as His sons and daughters, we must share in His suffering for the sake of the gospel: Remember this gospel must go round the whole world, and the devil and his agents do not want that! We should realize however, because of our earthly human nature, that the power to overcome suffering is not ours but the power of God which had been released to and in us in Christ Jesus (2Timothy 1:8). This suffering may be individualistic through personal persecutions at our places of work, schools, families and neighborhoods because of our faith in Christ; or it may be collective as members of the Body of Christ are pillaged, tortured, slaughtered and sold into slavery around the world because of their faith in Jesus Christ. You may say on the contrary, as a child of God, you are not suffering; in fact everything has never been so good with you. Great! However, your brothers and sisters in diverse locations around the world are being tortured and killed not for any wrong done but because they believe in the name you believe: “So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored all the members rejoice with it” (1Corinthians 12:26).
Suffering is not an exclusive reserve of one part of the Body. A lot of teachings today have turned the suffering of and for Christ as something to be ashamed of, thus claiming it is not God’s will. Paul by the Spirit of God in answer to such position said: “And this is why I am suffering as I do. Still I am not ashamed, for I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day” (2Timothy 1:12 AMP). The Bible equally reminded us that: “For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps” (1Peter 2:21 AMP). As we go through sufferings irrespective of our vocation in life either personally or collectively because of our faith, if we endure it brings and attracts the favor of God to us. In fact it carries a blessing (Matthew 5:11-12 and 1Peter2:20). What are we then to do in the face of such terrible persecutions for our faith? All God requires: “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray” (James 5:13a). Our lot is to pray and watch God take us through victoriously in the face of the enemy. Don’t you know that this response infuriates the enemy the more? These are indeed times for us individually and collectively to pray the more so that God will shower us with favor, grace and mercy as we stand our ground to the end just as our fathers of faith did. It is not a time to think of ways of retaliation or changing masters. But time to stand firmly on our knees in prayers to the glory of God and the shame of the enemy. God bless you as you take this stand!