Suffering & the Will of God 1

The Wrong Way to Suffer

by Pastor John Hamel


“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; … Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; THOUGH HE WERE A SON, YET LEARNED HE OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS WHICH HE SUFFERED;” (Hebrews 5:5,7-8)


The Bible says that Jesus, even though He was the only begotten Son of the Almighty, learned obedience to the will of His Father by the things which He suffered while He was on the Earth.  


The Bible also says that Jesus is our example in suffering and that we are to follow in His footsteps. (1Peter 2:21)  


Whether we choose to ignore it or not, if we desire to see the perfect will of the Almighty for our own lives, suffering is the very thing which will make us or break us. 


I am a strong believer in the Word of Faith message.  I believe that the message of faith is the most important message in all of Scripture.  Without faith there is absolutely no way in the world that anybody anywhere anyhow is going to please the Almighty. (Hebrews 11:6)  


But I have discovered in my travels that there are many “faith” people who are building on the unscriptural idea that we can actually reach the place where life on this Earth is to be free of tests, trials and sufferings.  I have also discovered that those who believe such an unscriptural idea have absolutely no Bible verses to support their presumption. 


Everybody goes through the same program.  Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered.  His Disciples learned obedience through what they suffered.  The Apostle Paul learned obedience through what he suffered.  Every man or woman who has ever been used by the Almighty in demonstrations of His Spirit has suffered on the way to power with the Almighty.  


Just throw a name out there:  Kenneth E. Hagin, Lester Sumrall, Oral Roberts, Smith Wigglesworth, John Osteen, Billy Graham, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Aimee Semple-McPherson, Reinhard Bonnke, etc.  You may never hear them talk about it but they have all learned obedience by the things they have suffered.  


We all learn obedience by the things that we suffer. 


What we will establish in this study is the fact that there are different types of suffering.  There are types of suffering which are not ordained of the Almighty and there are types of suffering which are ordained of the Almighty.  


The type of suffering which is ordained of the Almighty produces perfection in the life of the Believer. 


Before looking at the type of suffering that produces perfection, let us look at the types of suffering that do not produce perfection.  


Suffering for Sin Will Not Produce Perfection


”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.” (1 Peter 2:20)


The Greek word for “fault” in this verse is “hamartano,” which means, “To miss the mark, to not share in the prize, to sin.” 


There is absolutely no glory at all that comes as a result of suffering for committing sin.  No one has to suffer for committing sin although everyone, including myself, has.  


This type of suffering is a result of one of two things. 


First, when we are ignorant of what the Bible says concerning all the affairs of life, we are going to suffer for it.  Acquiring knowledge of the Bible can readily cure suffering because of ignorance of the Bible. 


The second reason we suffer because of sin is because of stupidity.  When we are not ignorant of what the Bible says and we flat disobey what we know, we suffer needlessly.  


Of course, the remedy for this kind of suffering is repentance and obedience.  


It is never the will of the Almighty that His children suffer unnecessary humiliation, rejection or punishment for being evildoers. (1Peter 4:15


Suffering Sickness Will Not Produce Perfection


“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED.” (Isaiah 53:5)


The Hebrew word for “healed” in this verse is “rapha,” which means, “to cure, to heal, to mend, to stitch up as a physician would.” 


Anyone who chooses to believe that the Almighty would perfect His children with sickness just needs a little lesson from the Bible.  What earthly parent in their right mind would use sickness and disease to perfect their children?  Earthly parents would do no such thing because they are created in the image and the likeness of the Almighty and He would do no such thing. (Genesis 1:26) 


The Bible clearly reveals that human sickness and disease are a direct result of sin.  It is the penalty for sin.  It is just one of the many curses for disobeying the law of the Almighty. (Deuteronomy 28:1-68)  


Because Jesus bore our sins in His body at Calvary, we now bear His righteousness and no longer need to bear the penalty for our sins.  Because He bore our sins, we can receive physical healing for our sicknesses. (1Peter 2:24)  


This is not a license to sin.  It is a license to repent and receive healing when we are sincere. 


Christ has redeemed us from the curse of sickness. (Galatians 3:13-14,29)  


All oppression is Satanic in origin and never sent by the Almighty. (John 10:10; Acts 10:38)  


There is no way in the world that the Almighty would allow His Son to bear the penalty for our sins, only to turn around and penalize us for them regardless.  This would make God a hypocrite.  


This would mean that the Almighty is divided against Himself.  Jesus said a divided kingdom would soon come crashing down. (Matthew 12:25)  


God is not a hypocrite and His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. (Luke 1:33)  


The Almighty does not use sickness or disease to teach His children how to be perfect no matter what some trusted church denomination may teach to the contrary.   


“ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and IS PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE, FOR REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION, FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Timothy 3:16-17)


It does not take a degree in theology to realize that the Bible says that the Almighty has given Scripture, not sickness, to reprove, correct and instruct in righteousness that the family of God may be perfected by it.  


The Almighty has given us the Bible to perfect us, not sickness and disease.  


Jesus said that we must absolutely have two or three confirming Bible references for everything that we teach or we absolutely should not be teaching it. (Matthew 18:16; 2Corinthians 13:1)  


You will notice that people who teach that the Almighty uses sickness to perfect His family never have the confirming New Testament witnesses, in context, to prove it.  


God uses the Scripture to perfect His family and nowhere in the Scripture is there even the most remote hint that He uses sickness to teach. 


Somebody always says, “But what about Paul’s thorn in the flesh?”  What about it?  Paul himself said that his thorn was “a messenger of Satan,” not a messenger of the Almighty. (2 Corinthians 12:7)  


Satan sent this messenger to buffet Paul to keep him from exalting Biblical teaching over religious teaching.  Besides that, the “Paul’s thorn” reference is only one Scriptural witness when Jesus said we need two or three.  Those two or three witnesses must never be taken out of context the way unbelieving Bible teachers take “Paul’s thorn” out of context. 


As if all of this was not enough, where in Second Corinthians chapter twelve or anywhere else in the Bible, does Paul ever talk about sickness as a means of being perfected?  


The Apostle Paul never even remotely implies, in any of his Epistles, that God uses sickness to perfect. 


We will cover “Paul’s Thorn” thoroughly in a separate study. 


Suffering Poverty Does Not Produce Perfection


“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, THAT YE THROUGH HIS POVERTY MIGHT BE RICH.” (2Corinthians 8:9)


So many well meaning Bible Teachers insist that Jesus lived a life of poverty, but no matter how hard I have tried I just never did see it.  It is just impossible for me to believe that Jesus lived and traveled with a twelve-man entourage, meeting not only all of their needs, but their families’ needs as well.  


Never in my life have I ever met a pauper who had a treasurer on the payroll such as Jesus did in Judas.  Jesus may have lived a deliberately modest, non-flamboyant lifestyle, but He was not a pauper who took a religious vow of poverty.  


Never once in the Bible do you ever see Jesus broke any more than you ever see Him sick. 


One day Jesus actually told His Disciples to go to the grocery store and buy enough food to feed 5,000 men, not to mention the women and children who were present.  


The Disciples responded, in essence, “Do you actually want us to go and spend 200 denarii on bread to feed them?”  


One denarii was the equivalent of one day’s wage for labor.  Jesus had at least 200 times that in the treasury bag or the Disciples would not have asked Him if He really wanted them to spend it.  Two hundred days wages was two-thirds of a laborer’s annual salary.  


Do you know anyone who daily walks around with the cash equivalent of two-thirds of their annual salary in their pocket?  Jesus did this because He was not a pauper and He was not broke.  He bore the curse of poverty on the Cross, but He did not bear it in life. 


Poverty is a curse of the law, even as sickness is a curse of the law. (Deuteronomy 28:1-68)  Poverty is a penalty for sin, even as sickness is a penalty for sin.  


Jesus bore the curse of poverty on the Cross so that those who receive His death penalty for the sins of the world as their own would not have to bear the curse of poverty. (Galatians 3:13-14,29)


You will never find the Almighty using poverty to perfect His servants even in the Old Testament.  


God prospered His servants in the Old Testament when they obeyed Him.  He did not strip them of prosperity when they obeyed Him.  He prospered Joseph. (Genesis 39:2-3,23; 41:40-44)  He prospered Joshua. (Joshua 1:7; 12:1-24; 24:15)  He prospered David. (2Samuel 5:10; Psalm 30:6)  He prospered Solomon. (1Kings 3:13; 4:1-34; 10:7)  He prospered Uzziah. (2Chronicles 26:5)  He prospered Hezekiah. (2Chronicles 31:21; 32:30)  He prospered Daniel. (Daniel 6:28)  


The Old Testament even revealed that Jesus would prosper materially when He came into the Earth. (Psalm 35:27; Isaiah 53:10; Jeremiah 23:4) 


The Apostle Paul even taught the Philippians that the Almighty has ordained a Heavenly bank “account” which is based upon deposits and withdrawals. (Philippians 4:15-19)  


Almighty God has enough sense to know that nobody is going to be drawn to a God Who just wants to take everything away from them.  


People who say that God does not want them to prosper should quit their jobs and quit defying His will if that is what they really believe.  


Anyone who really believes that God does not want them to have anything should quit defying His will and trying to get it anyway, Monday through Friday.  


Of course, the Almighty does want His family to prosper.  Therefore we know that He does not use poverty to teach His children.  He uses the Bible to teach and perfect His children.  


“But He’s not prospering me,” somebody might say.  


Are you paying your tithes? (Malachi 3:8-10; Hebrews 7:8)  


Do you have hidden sin in your life? (Proverbs 28:13)  


Are you refusing to joyfully thank Him that it is His will to prosper you with abundance? (Deuteronomy 28:47)  


Are you resisting His will anywhere in your life? (Isaiah 54:17)  


Are you favorable in your prayer and in your giving towards the Nation of Israel? (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 122:6-8) 


I always tell folks, “If you aren’t prospering the way God wants you to, there are two individuals you can examine, the Almighty or yourself.  I’ll give you just one hint.  It’s not the Almighty.”  


This is not to say that He will not test you and prove you to see how committed you are to His plan for your life and how much prosperity you can handle.  He surely will.  


Once you have allowed Him to prove what is in your heart, He will send prosperity to the degree that He has determined you can handle. (Exodus 16:4; 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2,16,18) 


Certainly if it was the will of God to prosper His servants in the Old Testament, it is even more so His will to prosper His children in the New Testament.  Jesus came as the Mediator of a better Covenant established upon better promises. (Hebrews 8:6)  


If the Almighty removed material prosperity from the New Testament, it would not even be equal to the Old Testament let alone better than the Old Testament.  


Let us not find ourselves guilty of falsely accusing the God of Providence of perfecting His children with poverty.  His will is prosperity.  Prosperity that comes through the supernatural power of Holy tithes and generous offerings


Suffering Damnation Doesn't Produce Perfection


“THE LORD IS not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE.” (2 Peter 3:9)


Some teach that the Almighty actually uses damnation or eternal separation from Him to perfect.  


One of the world’s largest denominations actually teaches that the Almighty confines certain individuals to a place called “Purgatory” where the perfection process continues.  Neither the word “Purgatory” nor the Doctrine of Purgatory is even alluded to in the Bible.  


It is my personal belief that the unscriptural Doctrine of Purgatory has grown out of a gross perversion of the narrative concerning the rich man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19-31. 


It is not the will of the Almighty for anyone to be separated from Him eternally by going to Hell.  


Eternal punishment for sin was borne by Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross.  Eternal punishment for sin is a curse of the law and Jesus has redeemed all who believe in Him from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13-14,29)  


God is longsuffering towards the people of the world because He desires that everyone have opportunity to repent and spend Eternity in Heaven.  This is why He has delayed for so long His putting down of all earthly rebellion and the evil plans of man. 


The Almighty does not use suffering in or for sin to produce perfection.  He does not use sickness or disease to produce perfection.  He does not use poverty, Purgatory or eternal damnation to produce perfection.  


In all of these instances Jesus suffered as our Substitute for sin at Calvary


In our next study we will see how He suffered as our Example through His life on Earth.


Be blessed …  John and Barbara Hamel



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