We are looking at the question of human suffering which with a large majority of people shapes their perception of God and how He relates to humanity.
James 5:10-11 NKJV My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. (11) Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
- These verses tell us to be inspired by Job’s patience, perseverance, and endurance, and the mercy and grace of the Lord that brought great deliverance.
The purpose of this lesson is two-fold:
- To see the kinds of suffering that we as Christians should go through in order to experience the maturity that will lead us into God’s best.
- What we should do when we experience that suffering.
- It is never the will of God for the believer to suffer with those things that Jesus has redeemed us from.
Hebrews 5:8-9 NKJV though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (9) And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
- There is a positive, right, God-ordained kind of suffering that will bring us to the place in our lives of maturity and where we experience God’s highest and best.
1 Peter 5:10 NKJV (10) But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Understand that all of us are called unto His eternal glory. (The Manifest Presence of the Lord) He wants you to experience that now in the earth.
The sufferings indicated here in these verses will make you perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.
We have had a tendency to mix all suffering together and mixed the proper suffering with the bad suffering and felt like we just had to accept or tolerate it all (thinking Job was the example).
- Job is not our example of what we are to suffer in this life.
Job suffered sickness and disease, financial collapse, depression, relational problems.
- Our example of what we are to suffer is Jesus.
He is our example of Christian suffering. You will not find any of things that Job suffered in the life of Jesus and in the things that Jesus suffered.
There are three basic kinds of Christian suffering that we will see using Jesus as our example:
Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (2) And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. (3) Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (4) But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD.’ ” (5) Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, (6) and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER YOU,’ and, IN THEIR HANDS THEY SHALL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU DASH YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’ ” (7) Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘YOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE LORD YOUR GOD.’ ” (8) Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. (9) And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” (10) Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ ” (11) Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
- The first type of suffering comes because of temptation which works on our flesh and our soul.
It is painful to say no to your flesh when it wants something that it should not have.
This is the lowest level of suffering that we will experience but it is a prerequisite to us experiencing our divinely appointed destiny.
Jesus could have never entered into the ministry that He was to enter until He had experienced this kind of suffering.
This particular temptation was directed by the Spirit – God will never give you an opportunity or a way around the devil. He wants you to overcome him every single time. The Holy Spirit will direct you into confrontation with these hard places because He wants to you overcome and has given you the power and ability to do so.
How did Jesus win in this temptation?
- The first thing that Jesus did was to deny His flesh in His fasting.
You have to say, “No!” to the flesh. Once you say no, it is clear that the tempter will come again to push and try that decision.
- The second thing you do is put the sword of the Spirit in your mouth and overcome with the Word of God.
When the temptation shows up you do whatever is necessary to put that Word in your mouth – get your cards, Bible, etc. and keep it before you and handy.
When Jesus used the Word of God – the devil left Him. (v. 11)
Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV (10) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- The second type of suffering is the suffering that we will face is persecution for Jesus’ sake and the Gospel.
A lot of people suffer persecution not because of Jesus but because they bring it upon themselves in the way they approach unbelievers with the Word of God.
You cannot cast your pearls before swine – there are just some things that heathen people are not going to understand about your personal intimate relationship with the Lord and the revelation that He brings.
- Jesus told us to rejoice when we are persecuted.
Matthew 5:38-39 NKJV “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ (39) But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Jesus was teaching His disciples on the mountain the problems and matters of conduct that pertain to the preaching of the Gospel.
You only turn the other cheek as it pertains to the preaching of the Gospel NOT in your life as believer. You can defend and protect yourself and your family from the devil.
- You do not need to defend yourself or retaliate.
Psalms 5:11 NKJV But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
Luke 22:41-44 NKJV And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, (42) saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (43) Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. (44) And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
- The third kind of suffering that comes from dedicating our lives to the service of others.
This is the last kind of suffering that Jesus endured that took Him on His way to completing God’s highest calling on His life. Jesus did not do what He did when it was convenient.
Our priority in life needs to become how we serve other people in the Gospel. Most of the time we are serving our purpose and our agenda. Our paradigm must be that our purpose on the earth is for serving other people. Every resource that we have at our disposal is for this purpose.
James 1:2-4 NKJV My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.