August 25, 2021 (Post #62)
(From Journal #9: April 2, 2007)
I listened to a sermon today that, quite frankly, didn’t fully align with my spirit. It was about suffering. Lord, none of us will ever truly understand how much You suffered for our sins, and I cannot begin to express my gratefulness for what You did on the Cross. Any suffering we experience in this world is not worthy to be measured.
Yet, I’m conflicted about some parts of the message. I think there’s a difference between suffering for the glory and purposes of the Kingdom vs. suffering at the hands of the enemy or from our own bad choices. Some people assume everything that happens to us must be Your will. You are sovereign and in Your sovereignty, You gave us free will. Honestly, Lord, this seems like a “cop-out” for not accepting responsibility for the consequences of our sin and bad decisions, or for not using the authority Jesus has given to His children to stand against the enemy. This seems to make it easy to just blame You for everything, which doesn’t require much faith, fight or personal accountability. This is how I see the “categories” of suffering and if I’m wrong, please help me to discern the error of my thinking.
Kingdom Suffering: You told us that in this world we will have trials, tribulation and persecution. We live in a fallen world full of evil and the people of God are a target. Christians all over the world are persecuted, even to death. Just by living out our faith and standing for Jesus, suffering does happen. It doesn’t mean we did anything wrong. We glorify You by how we walk through adversity standing on Your Word.
Matthew 5:10-11: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
John 15:20 “…..If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…”
2 Timothy 3:12: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Demonic Suffering: You tell us in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” the people of God and we can suffer terribly if we are not aware of his attacks and fight against him. He attacks us with fear, sickness, anxiety, deception, and danger. This is why You tell us to put on the Armor of God, be alert, and to stand against this kind of suffering. You are always there to help us, but You told us to resist, stand, and fight. I don’t think You “gave” me cancer. Sickness is part of this fallen world. With every stripe You bore, You healed us. I didn’t knowingly do anything that could cause non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It’s the enemy whose plan is to kill us. But You take the things the enemy means for harm and use it for good. As I fight this disease, my prayer is that I glorify You in the battle, and that I’m a good witness of Your healing, grace, mercy, and faithfulness.
1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Ephesians 6::11-12: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
James 4:7: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
People-Induced Suffering: So much suffering in this world is a direct consequence of sin and bad choices, either made by ourselves, or from others whose decisions impact our lives in devastating ways. People have addictions and bad habits that cause physical and emotional suffering. People make sinful decisions that not only destroy their lives but cause suffering to their family and loved ones as well. It is never Your will for us to sin and make bad choices! You are merciful and willing to offer forgiveness if we repent, but that doesn’t always mean the consequences go away. But You are there to walk us through if we seek You with all our heart.
Galatians 6:7-8: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Deuteronomy 30:19: This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.