Suffering & the Will of God 2

The Right Way to Suffer

by 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)


We are studying the subject of suffering and Christianity. 


We opened our first study on this subject by telling you that some “Word of Faith” Christians have the wrong idea that, by using their faith, they can reach the place in this life where it is possible to live above tests, trials and sufferings.  


Although I personally am a strong believer in and an advocate of the “Word of Faith” message, I disagree with such an unscriptural position. 


Jesus’ life was not free of tests, trials and sufferings.  He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.  


Jesus’ Disciples, the Apostle Paul and all followers of Christ learn obedience to the will of God for their lives through suffering.  


Jesus is our example in suffering, therefore, we will suffer.  Any man or woman who has ever been used by the Almighty in demonstration of His Spirit and power has been matured through suffering. 


In part one of this study the point was made that there are different types of suffering.  There are types of suffering which are not ordained of God and there are types of suffering which are ordained of God.  


In that study we covered the types of suffering that are not ordained of the Almighty to perfect His family.  


We saw that suffering in sin does not produce perfection.  


We saw that suffering in sickness and disease does not produce perfection. 


We also saw that suffering in poverty is not the will of God and does not produce perfection.  


Finally, we saw briefly from the Bible that eternal damnation or even the unscriptural teaching of “Purgatory” does not produce perfection in Believers.  


It is never the will of the Almighty for anyone to suffer in any of these areas, and anyone who teaches otherwise is a teacher of vanity. (Matthew 15:9) 


However, we do know that there is a type of suffering that is ordained of God for Believers because Jesus is our example when it comes to that particular type of suffering.  


Before we can talk about what that particular type of suffering is, we must first establish the following fact.


Jesus Suffered for Us in Two Different Ways


“For CHRIST ALSO HATH ONCE SUFFERED FOR SINS, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1Peter 3:18)


The first way that Jesus suffered for us was as our sin Substitute.  


Here Peter reveals that Jesus has suffered once for sins and that once was enough.  As our sin Substitute, Jesus not only bore our sins on the Cross, He also bore the penalties for our sins, which are sickness, disease, poverty and eternal separation from the Almighty.  


It is not possible for us to follow Jesus’ substitutionary footsteps back to Calvary and offer ourselves for the sins of the world.  Going to the Cross was something that only Jesus could do for us.  He is sinless.  We are not. (John 1:29)   


In December of 1988, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of a long day of study, I took a few moments to check in on the local news broadcast.  To my amazement I found myself watching a live broadcast of a man sitting in the middle of the street and dousing himself with gasoline.  


To my further amazement the camera crew actually stood there continuing to film, allowing him to light a match at which point he literally burst into flames. 


Finally, an onlooker jumped upon the man with some sort of a large coat or blanket and smothered the flames, but not before the man had done serious damage to himself.  


One of the camera crew asked the man, “Why did you do that to yourself?”  


The horribly burned man responded, “To redeem myself from sin.”  It is not possible for human beings to redeem themselves from sin.  Jesus suffered once as our sin Substitute so that we would not have to suffer in this way. 


Yet the Bible does say that there is a way that Jesus suffered for us in which we are to follow Him as our example.       


“For even hereunto were ye called: because CHRIST ALSO SUFFERED FOR US, LEAVING US AN EXAMPLE, that ye should follow his steps:” (1 Peter 2:21)


The way that Jesus suffered for us, as an example, was in the way He suffered persecution for His uncompromising stand on His Father’s uncompromising Word.  


As we have seen, the Almighty does not use sin, sickness, poverty or damnation to perfect and to mature His family. 


However, He does allow the process of persecution to strengthen us to hardship and difficulty and to bring about maturity. (See Isaiah 41:10 in the Amplified Bible.)


Suffering Persecution with Christ Produces Perfection 


“For THIS IS THANKWORTHY, IF A MAN FOR CONSCIENCE TOWARD GOD ENDURE GRIEF, SUFFERING WRONGFULLY. 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. For even hereunto were ye called: because CHRIST ALSO SUFFERED FOR US, LEAVING US AN EXAMPLE, THAT YE SHOULD FOLLOW HIS STEPS: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, WHEN HE WAS REVILED, REVILED NOT AGAIN; WHEN HE SUFFERED, HE THREATENED NOT; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” (1Peter 2:19-23)


Peter is not talking about Jesus suffering in sin, sickness, disease, poverty or damnation.  Peter is talking about Jesus suffering wrongly for preaching and living the Word of the Almighty.  


Peter made the statement that this is the only type of suffering that is acceptable with God.  Jesus was reviled, criticized, hated, threatened, rejected, defamed, falsely accused, maligned and cruelly persecuted in every possible way even by “spiritual” people who thought they were doing the will of God by harming Him.  


Jesus simply continued to preach, to obey what He knew was the will of God and to ignore His self-appointed critics.  This is how Jesus learned obedience.  


This is how all Believers will learn obedience if they truly desire the will of God. 


Persecution for the Word’s sake will cause any Believer who is serious about the deep things of God to grow up in a great big hurry.  


Anyone who truly desires the perfect will of God for his or her life and true revelation of His Word is going to pay a price.  There is a stepping up in the realm of the spirit that the Almighty has ordained for all who desire it.  


But there is a price that must be paid.  It is called persecution.


“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, AFTER THAT YE HAVE SUFFERED A WHILE, MAKE YOU PERFECT, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)


There is only one way to perfection, establishment in the Word of Faith, spiritual strength and grounding.  It is not suffering in or because of sin.  It is not suffering in sickness and disease.  It is not suffering in poverty.  It is not suffering eternal separation from the Almighty.  


It is suffering persecution.  


The Bible says that the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. (Galatians 5:17) 


When you make a decision that you are going to obey the Word of God and pursue His plan at all costs, other people’s flesh will begin to war against your spirit. 


When you begin to walk in the light of God’s Word, the light in you will begin to reveal the darkness in others, whether you mean for it to or not. 


As difficult as it is for some to accept, the Bible reveals that anyone who is not submitting himself or herself to the will of God is submitting to the will of Satan. (Ephesians 2:1-3) 


When you begin to submit yourself to the will of God, Satan and demon spirits, who are in control of the people around you, get all stirred up and agitated. 


The end result is persecution in the form of false accusations, rejection, hatred, defamation, evil reports and the like.  That is just plain Bible. (Matthew 5:11,12; 10:14,17-36; John 15:18-21; Acts 5:41; 13:45; 14:22; 1Corinthians 4:10-13; 2Corinthians 6:8-10; 11:26-28; 2Thessalonians 1:4; Ephesians 4:27; 6:12; Hebrews 13:13) 


Do not start wondering where you might be out of the will of God when people all around you begin to behave this way.  Know that you are getting closer to the bulls eye.  


People who are not suffering persecution for the Word’s sake should get on their knees and ask the Almighty the following question.  “Why is the devil not stirred up and agitated by me?  Where am I out of Your will?” 


Satan and demon spirits were always agitated by Jesus’ commitment to His Father’s will and Word.  When Satan and demon spirits are not agitated by your commitment to your Father’s will and Word, you are not following Jesus’ example.  


That is a very positive, negative word intended only to encourage you.


It Takes Faith to Suffer Persecution with Christ


“So that WE OURSELVES GLORY IN YOU IN THE CHURCHES OF GOD FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND FAITH IN ALL YOUR PERSECUTIONS AND TRIBULATIONS THAT YE ENDURE: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;” (2Thessalonians 1:4-6)


There are some, as I said earlier, that believe they can use their faith to reach a place in this life where they live above tests, trials, tribulation and persecution.  


These same individuals wrongly believe that it is a lack of faith to suffer persecution.  They look at those who are being persecuted for the Word’s sake and wrongly assume that those individuals are suffering because they are out of the will of God.  


The fact of the matter is, the Bible reveals that you will suffer persecution and tribulation for being in the will of God and that it takes great patience and faith to endure it. 


People who think they are living free of tests, trials, tribulation and persecution, because they have such “great faith”, seem to have no idea in the world that they are not being persecuted because Satan is not intimidated by them.  


Satan is not intimidated by anyone who does their own thing, refusing to walk in the light of the whole counsel of God.  You can be the Pastor of a church of 10,000 people and be so void of the Word of God in your life and so ignorant of His perfect will for your life, that Satan will leave you sitting pretty right where you are because you are no threat to Him. 


On the other hand, you can be the Pastor of a church of 25 unfaithful people who handles the Word of God with excellence and strives daily for the perfect plan of God.  It seems as if every corner you turn someone is just waiting to falsely accuse you, to treat you with despite, to reject you, to slander you and to backbite you.  


You are the type of individual that the Almighty will use to split the kingdom of Satan wide open.  Hang in there.  God will promote you. (Psalm 75:6-7)  


Satan, the world and carnal Believers despise you even as Satan, the world and carnal Believers despised Christ. (Matthew 10:22; 24:9-10; Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22; 21:17; John 15:18; 17:14


“For therefore WE BOTH LABOUR AND SUFFER REPROACH, BECAUSE WE TRUST IN THE LIVING GOD, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” (1Timothy 4:10)


Notice the Apostle Paul told young Pastor Timothy that he would suffer reproach, not sickness or poverty, for walking out the plan of God in his life.  


The Greek word for “reproach” in this verse is “oneidizo,” which means, “to be defamed, railed on, chided, taunted and reviled.”  


Satan will always find someone to do this for him whenever a Believer decides to go for the gold and execute the plan of God for his or her life.

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but BE THOU PARTAKER OF THE AFFLICTIONS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE POWER OF GOD;” (2 Timothy 1:8)


The Greek word used for “afflictions” here is “sugkakopatheo,” which means, “to suffer hardship in company with.”  


Who is Paul telling Timothy to suffer hardship in company with?  


Well, with Jesus, of course.  He is our Example in suffering.  When we allow ourselves to patiently suffer with Him in persecution, He shares His power with us.  This is when the Gifts of the Spirit begin to operate. (1Corinthians 12:7-11; 2Corinthians 12:9-10)  


Do not complain.  Pray for those who defame, rail on, chide, taunt and revile you.  God will bless you for it. (Matthew 5:44)  


“Thou therefore ENDURE HARDNESS, AS A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST … IF WE SUFFER, WE SHALL ALSO REIGN WITH HIM: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” (2 Timothy 2:3,12)


The Greek word for “hardness” in the above verse is “kakopatheo,” which means, “to suffer trouble from wrongdoers.”


There is just no denying it.  It is completely Scriptural to be persecuted either directly by Satan and demon spirits or indirectly through worldly people or carnal Christians.  


Someone’s going to jump and holler about the following but the facts are the facts.  


Possibly the greatest persecution you will endure will come from other Christians who are ignorant of God’s Word and see no need to walk in love.  You are going to hear it all from, “Here comes Mr. Holier-than-thou” all the way to things that are so belched up from the bowels of Hell that I would not dare to print them in this study.  


Just hang tight.  Keep preaching.  Keep on believing.  Keep ignoring your critics.  


You will be the one walking in power.  You will be the first one your critics run to when their babies are sick and they simply cannot get a hold of Heaven.  I have seen it over and over again.  We just love them, forgive them and help them.


It takes faith to stay right where the Almighty has placed you and suffer persecution because you believe in living clean, in healing, prosperity, paying tithes and in walking in love even when those times come when you would prefer anything else to it. 


I know people who have been Born Again for longer than I have been alive and they are still spiritual babies because when the persecution heat rises, they run. (Mark 4:5-6)  They only submit to the will of God when it is easy.  


That is not submission.  That is rebellion.  


Persecution is not strange or unusual. (1 Peter 4:12; 2 Peter 3:12)  


The greater the persecution is, the greater the coming joy and glory will be. (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4:13


It is an honor, not a shame, to be persecuted.  It brings glory to God. (1 Peter 4:16


Not only will you suffer in persecution but you will also suffer in resisting the temptation to avenge yourself or to go back into the world of sin. (Luke 8:13; Romans 12:19)  


Do not give in.  You will only end up paying for the same ground twice. 


Just squint your eyes, grit your teeth, stay in the Word and keep walking in love.  


Trust the Almighty.  He will deliver, vindicate and promote you. (Job 23:10; Psalm 34:19; 37:6; 75:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:2-4,12; 1 Peter 1:6,7)


He will even send an Angel to deliver you if He deems that necessary. (Acts 12:1-11)  


If your persecutors refuse to repent, He will judge them.  


That, however, is His job, not yours. 


Be blessed … John and Barbara Hamel  



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