I have asked God about suffering, especially lately. I have read and studied the Word. I certainly do not know the answer to it all, not even close. But one thing I have noticed is that the Church, in general, seems to no longer teach on suffering nor sanctification.
In this generation there is so much suffering, look at the situation in Nepal for example. There are so many trials, battles and griefs that one would logically assume that the Church would be teaching volumes on this subject in order to bring hope, comfort and direction. However the opposite seems to be true. Instead of solid teaching in this area there seems to be a proliferation of the Health, Wealth and Prosperity false gospel.
So I have felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to do a little series on suffering and sanctification. I would like to share with you some of what I have learned through my own hard experiences in order to “strengthen the souls of the disciples, (and) exhort (you) to continue in the faith…” Acts 14:22
According to the Pattern
“That is the strange lesson we all have to learn, and Calvary is the pattern of it from beginning to end. God’s victories look like defeats. It is victory in the unseen realm while one is apparently, absolutely down and out in the visible.” Prayer and Evangelism, Jessie Penn-Lewis (emphasis mine).
The pattern is suffering. And if we are God’s child He will deal with us according to the pattern.
When Christ died on the cross it seemed that evil had triumphed. Isaiah 53:3,4 says:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces
from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
Through His great suffering and death it seemed that all hope was lost and that Satan had triumphed. But this was only how it seemed in the natural realm. This is how it looked to human eyes. In reality, the cross was the place of Christ’s ultimate triumph over death, hell, sin and the devil. Sinners are delivered from sin, Satan must relinquish a captive, death is overcome and hell loses one more inhabitant – because of the cross.
What seemed so despicable, so contemptible, so utterly humiliating was the place of total and complete victory. As believers our eyes have been opened to the victory of Christ’s death and of course His subsequent resurrection. But to unbelievers the preaching of the cross is still regarded as meaningless foolishness.
And so is suffering. To the world suffering is meaningless, utterly contemptuous and something to be avoided at any cost. But as Christians, once again, our eyes are opened. Just as we see Christ’s sufferings were for an eternal purpose, so we need to see that once we are God’s child, so too are our sufferings. We don’t need to suffer for our own sins, Christ has done that once for all, but there is always a purpose to the suffering of a child of God. It is easy just to see the immediate circumstances before us, but God is interested in eternal values.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
And because of the cross, there is always a victory.
Next post…. God’s Victories Look Like Defeats