2 Corth 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Typically, when a person comes into the church from the world, they come because they are sick of their life and all the pain. They come to God thinking that life will be better and with less problems.
After being in the church for a little time, they soon realize that the problems of life still exists. They also learn that living for God requires some self-denial and even some suffering. It is at this juncture in their early Christian life that they have to decide if they are willing to endure these trials to be saved.
As we look into this subject of "embracing suffering" a person has to understand that to have true peace and joy, one has to overcome the things that steals their peace. There is a better and more joyful life ahead for a young Christian who learns to trust God with all their hearts.
TRIALS vs CONSEQUENCES
The hardest thing a young believer will encounter is figuring out the difference between a trial, a devil or the consequences of their actions. This difficulty happens because of a lack of experience.
Some things happen to us because of the choices we make that are incorrect. This is typically issues of sin or just a bad decision. We do reap what we sow. However, don't let these bad places in your life defeat you. We all learn from these mistakes.
Sometimes, there will be actual demonic attack on our mind. This can come through people or circumstances. A demonic oppression will try to speak doubt, fear or discouragement to you to get you to quit. However, you can resist that voice by submitting to God, praising and thanking Him for all things.
Lastly, there are just some trials that come your way that God allows or even orchestrates for you. The hard part is that sometimes we can't figure out what is wrong or why it's happening. Peter speaks of it this way...
1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
These trials are things that take place that are not consequences from sin or bad decisions. They are not necessarily from the devil either, even though he will take advantage of the trial to beat you up. These times of trouble are referred to as the "sufferings of Christ."
WHY DO WE HAVE TRIBULATIONS?
If a person is going to live for God properly, suffering is going to be part of their life. Scripture says it rains on the just and the unjust. Storms come to sinners as well as saints... no one is exempt.
The whole purpose of these "trials of suffering" are many. Some trials have to do with character flaws that cause us to sin. These kind of trials are designed to help us overcome the thing that is defeating us. Other trials are to prepare us for our destiny or a particular task God wants us to do.
Most trials are designed to make us weak and dependent on God. God puts us through these trials to get our human responses out of the way and to trust God to do the work. The greatest problem God has is getting us to let go and to stop trying to fix our own problems. Self-survival and human strength doesn't allow us to trust God with all our heart. These trials work things in and out of us at the same time.
Rom 5:3-4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And lastly, tribulations bring experience, patience and hope. We need the experience of trials because some things are only learned through suffering. Through this experience we get wisdom and understanding. Then we learn to go through trials without complaining. We also learn patience to endure a trial. Instead of asking God to remove the trial, we embrace it and go through it. And through experience and patiences we gain hope, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost!
THE BATTLE TO AVOID SUFFERING
The normal response towards suffering for human nature is to resist the trial. Nobody likes suffering; we all want to have a trouble-free life!! -- NOT HAPPENING!
When one of these times of tribulation (trouble) comes along, a person often feels afflicted in their mind. It causes discomfort and it seems to confront their ability to solve the problem; thus the conflict in one’s mind. Most reactions to trouble is to stamp out the affliction by ignoring it or to have fun or pleasure!
By avoiding a trial, you fall into the hands of discontent and or fear. Any anxiety you feel towards a trial is rooted in fear, even though you don't feel "terrifying" feelings. Not trusting God is based on fear... fear of the unknown, being afraid that the problem won't be fixed. Trying to solve the problem in your own mind is fear!!
It is through these trials that God's love, peace and your trust in Him casts out fear!! By embracing the suffering through trust, thanksgiving and praise, you learn to handle the conflicts of each trial... thus you become more like Christ! Remember this... Peace is not a life void of problems, but peace is a choice to go through the problem trusting God. By embracing your trial, you choose to have peace and let God carry the problem.
THE SECRET TO SUFFERING
Without getting into a lengthy study about self-denial, let me just say that the greatest secret about suffering I can convey is... suffering helps us die to self so God can LIVE THROUGH us!
It's funny, we come to God because we are tired of running our own life. We repent and give our life to God. But then, some people seem to draw the line in the sand (sort-of-speak) and not allow God to have complete and full control. No wonder they are not happy and lack any true peace and joy. Resisting suffering is like refusing to eat; No food - no strength; No suffering - No victory!!!
People that look at suffering as something to avoid are passing up on the key ingredient in their own happiness, especially if they want to be used of God. You CANNOT be used of God if you are full of self!
THE PROPER ATTITUDES TO HAVE
Since scripture teaches that we do not walk by sight (and feelings), but by Faith, we have to realize that our carnal thoughts and feelings are the enemy. The devil is the one who tries to convince you that God is not on your side. These assaults on your mind are called fiery darts. And these "darts" try to cause doubt, fear, oppression and ultimately unbelief in God.
To combat these thoughts you have to do two main things. 1) Give everything to God; 2) Have the proper attitude as you go through your trials. Murmuring and complaining will stop God from moving in your life. You will not receive from God or advance in the Kingdom until you pass the test. If you fail, you have to repent and wait for the test again. YOU HAVE TO PASS THE TEST to be able to claim true victory!!!
Therefore, the proper attitudes to have when the trial takes place is to be thankful, trust God, rejoice in your trial, praise and worship God. You have to "endure hardness" as a good soldier, but do it patiently with a thankful spirit. Then and only then can God move on your behalf.
HOW TO ENDURE
All of us want to be blessed and receive from God fairly quickly. Who really wants to wait years for a promise to come to pass... BUT PEOPLE DO!
Here is a list of people in scripture that had to endure trials and many days of waiting; Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ! All these men went through severe testings and had to endure for a long time. But, how did they make it through? There a many things that could be said about the lives of the above mentioned men, but all we need to remember is that God had a plan for each of their lives and it took God time to prepare them.
So, the key to their enduring is actually found in what the trial does... brings PATIENCE! As we stated in the scripture above, trials work into us patience. And it is patience that keeps us going through trial after trial, because ultimately we want God to bless us.
The keys to enduring of course is patience, thanksgiving and knowing God will be on time. Trust in God is essential as Paul wrote about Abraham...
Rom 4:20-21 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Heb 6:15 And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
THE REWARDS OF SUFFERING (Conclusion)
Nobody ever thinks of suffering as an awesome tool in God’s hands. Yet in Isaiah 53:10 it says, "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him" (speaking of Jesus' suffering). We know that Jesus' suffering produced redemption, victory and glory. Even for the "Joy" that was set before him, he endured the cross.
But, somehow we don't see suffering in our life like that. Instead we try to avoid it and wonder why we have less answered prayers, less anointing and less victory. Paul, even tells us to "let this mind be in you" when referring to Jesus' submission to death. -- Are we missing the key to having true power with God!?
When we are willing to submit to the sufferings of life, and do it willingly, there are GREAT REWARDS!!! Some things will only come after a time period of suffering and enduring. There are spiritual "spoils of war" that awaits a person who is willing to lay their lives down for Him.
Promises of prosperity, ministries, anointings, callings, health or whatever God speaks into your ears, hardly ever comes right away. But, when it is time, blessing, power, victory, anointings will flow into and through you, to not only bless you, but more importantly, to bless others!
Israel going through the wilderness and into the promise land is how God does it with us. There is a humbling in the wilderness, a preparation to war, then, when he brings us into the promises of God, that is where the milk and honey (spiritually speaking) are awaiting us!!
Embrace the Sufferings of Christ... That is how you become like Him!!