Introduction (2 Tim. 2:9-12; 1 Pet. 5:10; Psa. 34:19)
There is a way in Salvation that many in the Body of Christ intentionally avoid talking/teaching about. It is a way that babes in Christ are not mature enough yet to comprehend its necessity in their spiritual growth and development. It is a way that the unlearned and unbelieving misconstrue for existential falsehood of our faith. It is suffering. I know this is not a topic most want to hear, but it is what we need to hear. That is, if we are to be firmly fixed in our faith and living lives that yield Heavenly fruit.
God uses suffering to perfect us. Matthew 5:48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (KJV) Sometimes suffering is a direct result of our poor decision-making. Sometimes it is brought out on by the sickness of others’ souls. Sometimes it will come because we are followers of Christ and standing for righteousness (Jn. 15:18-21). Whichever way it comes, we can be assured, per Jesus’ advisement, that it will come. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation, but to be at peace when we do because He has overcome the world. As such, we too, have overcome the world through Him. If you live in this world, you will experience suffering of some kind. It is the byproduct of fallen humanity.
Although tough to bear, it is good for us. Suffering perfects us. It matures us. It aligns our lives (words, thoughts, and actions, desires, ambitions, habits, loyalties, etc.) to that of our Heavenly Father (Matt. 5:48). It develops within us the will to obey God no matter the costs. The truth is, you do not typically learn lessons until you have suffered through something that taught you the way you were going and/or the way you were thinking about a thing was not in alignment with God’s will. It is not always about you doing something wrong as much as it is your will being aligned to His will.
Think of it as spiritual calibration. Calibration is defined as the action of “standardizing (something, such as a measuring instrument) by determining the deviation from a standard so as to ascertain in the proper correction factors; to adjust precisely for a particular function.” So, in essence, suffering is one of the tools God uses in His children’s lives to course correct our lives in character, life aim, and purpose. Suffering creates an environment where God precisely adjusts our thinking, words, and actions for the particular function He has created and purposed us for. It causes the unGodliness that dwells in us to surface so He can eradicate it once and for all.
Jesus is our example of the purpose of suffering in our lives and how we should walk through it. (Heb. 12:7; Psa. 118;18; Heb. 12:10)
We see in the preceding passages of Scriptures that suffering and chastening are both tied to Sonship. (Heb. 5:8; Heb. 12:6-7; Prov. 13:24; Deut. 8:5)
chasteneth: (G3811 – paidemo – Strong’s – As used in Heb. 12:6)
-to train up a child, that is, educate, or (by implication) discipline (by punishment): -chasten(-ise), instruct, learn, teach
God does not always use chastening as a form of punishment, but also as a method of training and teaching.
suffered (G3958 – pascho, patho, pentho – Strong’s – As used in Heb. 5:8)
-to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful): -feel, passion, suffer, vex
Webster’s 1828 renders its definition this way, “to feel or bear what is painful, disagreeable or distressing, either to the body or mind; to undergo; to endure; to support; to sustain; not to sink under; to allow; to permit; not to forbid or hinder; to be affected by; to feel or undergo pain of body or mind; to bear what is inconvenient; to undergo, as punishment; to be injured; to sustain loss or damage”.
4 Purposes for God Allowing Suffering in Our Lives
To show forth His glory and lead men to repentance so they can be in right relationship with Him (Jn. 11:1-6, 11-45)
To perfect us (Jam. 1:2-4)
To teach us obedience (Jam. 1:5)
For others (Heb. 5:1-3)
My greatest teaching moments have come from personal suffering. Think about it. You typically (used loosely because it takes some of us a little longer to get it, if even at all) learn how to let God pick the people in your life after you have suffered through the wrong relationships long enough. You typically learn how to become a better steward after you suffered by being without (e.g., health, money, job, etc.).
Disclaimer: This principle only applies to those who fully surrender to suffering. It is not enough to just get through the suffering. We must surrender to it and be intentional about learning what God is aiming to teach us through the process. Only then will we receive all God intends for us out of it.
4 Types of Suffering:
Chastening (God’s Doing) (Heb. 12:6-7 and 5:8)
Testing and Proving of Your Faithfulness, Integrity and/or Virtue (God’s Doing) (Jam. 1:2-4)
Fasting (Our Doing) (1 Cor. 7:5)
For the Body of Christ (Others) (God and Our Doing) (Col. 1:24; Rom. 5:6-8; Heb. 5:1-3)
Why does God use suffering in our lives?
Suffering is often God’s preferred method of teaching in our lives because it’s the space with the least amount of soul resistance from us. It is the space where we come to the end of ourselves and have no other choice but to go to/rely upon Him. It is the space where all human will is completely humbled to silence. It is the space we are most willing to hear from Him, obey Him, and be like/spend time with Him. This was the place/Iifestyle He designed for all His children to live in from the beginning of humanity. Suffering gets us out of the way.
What is the purpose of consistent suffering in our lives?
We did not get the lesson in times past
God is teaching us new lessons that we will need in upcoming seasons
Benefits of Suffering:
We are further transformed into the image and likeness of Christ (Heb. 5:9) (Gen. 1:26)
We develop God’s wisdom (Job 28:20-28)
We develop a heart posture of surrender and become more obedient to God’s will (Heb. 5:8)
We experience God’s love in a tangible way (Heb. 12:6 and Deut. 8:5)
Avoid being condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32)
Develops steadfastness (Jam. 1:3)
It is the pathway to reigning with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:12)
How to Embrace and Get the Most Out of Your Suffering:
Recognize it for what it is and how God uses it in your life (Jam. 1:2-40)
Spend more time praying and reading God’s Word than you do worrying (Josh. 1:7-9)
Follow God’s lead, He knows what He is doing (Prov. 3:5-6)
Suffering is a condition of our existence that is unavoidable. It does not discriminate. The difference between Christ followers and those who do not believe/follow Christ is that we have the Almighty God and Creator of the Universe with and fighting for us. The result is all goodness because His Word promises us in Rom. 8:28-29 that He works all things together for our good, and in Josh. 1:9 He assures us that He is with us no matter where we go. Although suffering is painful to our flesh, it is working something good out for us on earth and in Heaven. As followers of Christ, instead of this way of Salvation called suffering, let us learn the invaluable lessons it teaches us. In doing so, we will recognize it to be the great teacher that it is.
Invitation to Salvation
Today’s sermon was about suffering, for which all of us, whether we are saved or not will experience as long as we are on earth in this age. If you are currently suffering in any way and in desperate need for God to rescue you, but you know your relationship with Him is fractured. Maybe, you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior at one point in your life but somewhere along your journey you got away from Him. Or maybe, you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior at all. If either of these invitations describe where you are right now, I want to extend to you the opportunity to be back in right fellowship with your Heavenly Father through Christ by way of Holy Spirit. He loves you and wants nothing more than to be intimately involved in your life while you are here on earth and when in Heaven for an eternity. Now that is love. He says, I want you now and forever. His arm is extended to you right now, accept His invitation. It will be the best decision you make in life.
If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, I would like to lead you into a prayer to help you do just that. Repeat after me.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you acknowledging that you are the Holy and Sovereign God of all creation, and I am a sinner. I no longer want to be separated from you, but I want a real relationship with you. Right now, I make the decision to turn away from the world, sin and being led by my flesh to follow you. Please forgive me for all my sins Father, known and unknown. I declare with my mouth with total belief in my heart that Jesus Christ is your Son who died for my sins and whom you raised from the dead to sit at your right hand in Heaven. Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and Savior. Come into my heart, take over my life and save me now. From this day forward I am yours. Transform me. Give me a heart to seek and please you. Help me to live a life that reverences you in words, thoughts, and actions. Instruct me in righteousness through your Word daily. And help me to abide in you and be and bear remaining fruit. I believe by faith, that I am right now born-again in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Congratulations on making the most important and best decision of your life!!! You are born-again!!! Happy Birthday!!! You should know that all of Heaven is rejoicing over your new birth in Christ (Luke 15:10 - “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.). This moment has been recorded in Heaven. You may be thinking, “Is Salvation really that simple?” Yes, to accept Salvation is that simple. To work out your Salvation through Christ by way of Holy Spirit according to Phil. 2:12 will be a process. The Good News is you are not in it alone. God is with you (Deut. 31:6) and will work in and through you (Phil. 2:13) every step of the way to be transformed into the image and likeness of His Son, now your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Okay, you are born again, now what? Like all of us when we were born-again, you probably have countless questions about what to do next. To help chart you on the right course to deepening your relationship with God through Christ by way of Holy Spirit, visit our website at www.mlam.org for a free guide on what your next steps are now that you are saved. Again, congratulations, and welcome to the family!