|"God will never 'put on you' what Jesus died to remove."|
IF ONE MEMBER SUFFER then all members suffer with it. It is not that God wishes suffering on us or has it planned for us, but that all people on planet earth suffer. Some suffer because they are in the kingdom of darkness. There is no blessing in that kingdom. Some suffer because they are in the kingdom of light. God’s children have a certain kind of suffering in common. PERSECUTION of faith happens to those who are part of God’s church. God wanted us to be informed, to know that we would suffer, that it was the same type of suffering that Jesus suffered, and that Jesus is the way to not only survive it but be joyful in the midst of it.
Jesus was hated and told His disciples they would be hated for that reason. He then gave them their response to it. Love one another. The King James Version calls this a commandment, meaning obedience. Obedience in our thinking feels like something we must do but don’t want to do, and that was not Jesus’ point. We are united with Him and united with the Father, we have the Holy Spirit within us as God’s strength to overcome. Therefore, we DESIRE to love. We CAN’T WAIT to love. Even if that one we are loving can’t stand us, we love them anyway. Though we suffer people’s criticisms, their hate, we do well during it and walk in faith in God, without doubting.
Doubt is not suffering. Doubt is the devil drawing us away from God’s truth. God has opened Himself to us, opened His Word to us, and given us power and authority over all the work of the enemy. We should be aware of suffering as it is defined in God’s Word, but we should live to resist the effects of suffering. We should plan, even in suffering, to NOT suffer. When persecution comes, it draws us into prayer and refreshment in the Spirit, with an attitude of patient endurance. Patience does not have to be miserable. We are only as miserable as we choose to be. Though we suffer, we have hope of a victory from it and a reward in heaven for what we have endured.
The enemy wants us to suffer, but God wants us well. The difference between the enemy’s definition of suffering and God’s definition of suffering involves who we choose to yield to. And yielding is done in our minds. Suffering as Christ did never has a negative outcome. Even those whose lives are taken for their beliefs in Jesus Christ have heaven as their reward. The Scripture is clear: “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil (James 4:7).” Not the other way around. SUBMISSION requires surrender and that means letting go of what we might prefer.
I had the Holy Spirit ask me to do a certain task once, and I instantly said, “That makes me so uncomfortable.” His reply set me straight. He said, “Everything makes you uncomfortable.” I smile now because that has been true of me, yet despite it, I have decided to go and do and obey Him anyhow. What God has planned for me is always more than I could ever dream, and if I resist God, then I will not see the fulfillment of it.
We RESIST the devil and the devil’s works. We trust God. God does not retaliate. When Jesus was slandered, He said not a word. When Israel turned to foreign idols, their sins had consequences, but God was faithful to deliver them with great blessing and their rejoicing. He never broke His covenant. The evidence of this came in the death and Resurrection of His Son. He was the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (Mark 1:15). What Jesus provided is a blessing of God’s grace and for those things, we never have to suffer. Salvation is eternal life, we never need to fear seeing hell or damnation, but it also having our needs met, our lives blessed, our families strong, and our bodies healthy. God will never “put on you” what Jesus died to remove. That is retaliation, and that is what the devil does. We must know the difference and in knowing, recognize the thief and say NO to him. The apostle Peter said that Jesus suffered for us, setting us an example of how to respond to it, then reminded us, “By His stripes we are healed (1 Peter 2:21,24).”
We live to NOT suffer. We work to NOT suffer, aware that it may come, and we can overcome it because the Savior of the world provided us the peace of mind and strength of spirit to carry the weight of it without falling under its pressure. Knowing Jesus defeated the devil, and we can take authority over what the enemy would cause us to suffer and can walk, instead, in the fullness of God, well able to be obedient to whatever God asks us to do, even if that, at first, causes us to recoil a bit. God is love, who laid down His life for His friends, giving His physical life to us and His spiritual life as well. Nothing we come up against need overwhelm us. God in us is always more than enough.
Three types of Christian suffering:
- Resisting the devil
“Do not be surprised, beloved, that this fiery ordeal should have befallen you, to test your quality; there is nothing strange in what is happening to you. Rather rejoice, when you share in some measure the sufferings of Christ; so joy will be yours, and triumph, when his glory is revealed. Your lot will be a blessed one if you are reproached for the name of Christ; it means that the virtue of God’s honour and glory and power, it means that his own Spirit, is resting upon you. Let it not be said that any of you underwent punishment for murder, or theft, or slander, or infringing other men’s rights; but, if man is punished for being a Christian, he has no need to be ashamed of it; let him bear that name, and give glory to God.” (1 Peter 4:12-17, Knox)
Suzanne D. Williams, Author