2013-09-12 / Opinions

Is suffering in the plan of God?

By Pastor Jay T. Barsaleau, First Baptist Church, Bad Axe, and Grace Bible Church, Harbor Beach

The atmosphere espoused by many in the 21st Century Americanized church promotes an easy-believism, supported by a feel-good-about-yourself message that is nicely frosted with a sweet notion that hardships should not ever cross your path if you are living for Jesus. Some Christian circles have fostered an unbiblical attitude among professing believers toward the existence of suffering in their lives. When various difficulties do come their way, it’s never from God; it’s rarely consequences of bad choices. It’s always Satan’s doing - and once in a while you might hear, ‘Bad things do happen in a fallen world.’

Because of some unstable approaches to biblical truths, conditions within our post- Christian culture are changing and declining so rapidly that many professing believers are totally unprepared when confronted with persecutions and the various hardships of life.

God, through Job, speaks of mankind’s general condition as “being born for trouble.” Job 5:7 states: “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” In 2 Timothy 3:12, The Holy Spirit, through Paul, says: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

It seems to me that there is a growing intolerance for those who hold to a Christian worldview. Liberal journalists, media, education, arts, and politics have a growing intolerance with those who believe God and His Word. Thus, hostilities are on the rise. How will you respond?

It is too lengthy to discuss at this time, but there are many confusing thoughts and misplaced expectations among professing believers concerning the general role of trials, sufferings, and troubles in the Christian life. Believers should not be surprised or perplexed by the encounter of difficulties throughout this life. Consider the following: Job 14:1 - "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble;” John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” 1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Most Godly men throughout history were never immune to suffering, trials, and persecutions. Many in American Christianity today have failed to see adversity from God’s perspective. In so doing, they have completely overlooked the warning, the preparation, as well as the positive, strengthening, perfecting effects that trials and suffering are designed to have on believers’ faith. As one looks at a balanced view of suffering from God’s Word, you will soon learn that the ultimate goal for the believer is to be conformed to Christlikeness. Romans 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

There are so many area of our lives that need changing, I cannot fathom the work God must do to bring this about. Thus, we need to receive biblical insights into the role of suffering in the Christian life. The Lord wants our spiritual growth, though perhaps difficult as we pass through it, to be a positive experience in the end - one that strengthens and refines our faith. Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

May you - by God’s grace - be conformed to the image of Christ as you grow in your understanding of the refining power pain and adversity may have in the believer’s life from our Divine Sovereign.

Grace be with you!

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