Suffering seems to be expected in the faith walk. It is part of carrying our crosses when we follow Jesus that suffering for the sake of the Gospel and because of our faith in Him simply follows. Our faith will sometimes cause us to suffer rejection, persecution, mockery, etc. Jesus said, If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first (John chapter 15, verse 18).
Jesus’ ancient words still live on. For some of us who came from non-Christian families, we faced strong opposition and persecutions the very first time we came to the knowledge of God’s truth and awakened in our relationship with God in Christ from the very people we hold dear in our hearts.
Yet, despite all those painful moments, fighting for Jesus is worth it. There’s joy deep within you because you know nothing can stop the love of God that’s burning within you. He is so alive and so real that what other people say against this Awesome God doesn’t matter.
Once you have experienced true life and love in Christ, you wouldn’t want to go back to your old life anymore.
Let’s talk about another kind of suffering.
I read a discussion thread about divorce that urged me to read what Jesus Christ said about divorce in Matthew chapter 19, verses 3 to 12. I realized how it was allowed by God because of unfaithful spouses. Though such is not God’s original plan for marriages, divorce was permitted only in the accounts of unfaithfulness in marriage.
Then I read a comment on that thread that her friend was domestically and sexually abused by her husband which led to the annulment; and someone replied to her that Jesus said we are to “carry our cross” like it’s wrong to choose to be separated even under such circumstance in marriage. I realized how the enemy could extremely use the Scripture to twist meaning and make us suffer that doesn’t glorify God.
Is our suffering glorifying Christ, or are we suffering because of the devil’s work?
In ministry, friendships or peers, and romantic relationships, abuses taking place are rampant yet subtle, and there will be manipulations and control involved to the point you can’t get out of the cycle until you scream for help.
I firmly believe that physical abuse, emotional, mental, and even spiritual abuse in churches through verbatim, control, and manipulation are not what God has called us to suffer for.
John chapter 10, verse 10says, The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Jesus wouldn’t tell us about the thief’s purpose in contrast to His purpose if there would be no differences in all that’s happening in our lives, be it sufferings, hardships, and pain.
When we are ignorant of God’s ways, we give ways for the thief to come into our lives to steal, kill and destroy –it can be peace and joy, physical, mental and emotional health, relationships with families, spouses, children, and so on.
When we believe in the enemy’s lie that all suffering and events come from God, we fall into the enemy’s trap to accept what we are supposed to rebuke and exercise our authority in Jesus’ name.
Jesus said, Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and overall the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you (John chapter 10 verse 19).
Jesus did not give His life on the cross so you could physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually die in someone else's hand!
We must be discerning if our suffering glorifies God or not, if we are indeed carrying the cross of Jesus or if the enemy is making us believe in false crosses so he can come to steal, kill and destroy us.
Yes, we will sometimes suffer for Christ because of the Gospel and our faith. We will face hardships in winning the very ones we love; we will experience pain when we prioritize seeking God first at the expense of friendship, relationships, and so on. Such kind of faith glorifies God even in the midst of suffering, hardship, and pain.
Other kinds of suffering that cause you to fear a lot, lose your peace and joy, doubt your worth, endanger life, believe in the lies about your identity, and be imprisoned, controlled and manipulated by another person, whether in marriage, ministry, romantic relationship, friendship, etc., such things don't glorify God and it is not His will.
I pray that if any of you are experiencing any form of abuse, and ungodly sufferings, be empowered to find help and reach out to someone reliable and trustworthy. May you be set free in the name of Jesus!
A rich and satisfying life in Christ physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is His will for you! That is your right as a child of God.
Lovely Lao is a Sunday school teacher and is involved in children’s ministry at a local church. She is a passionate lover of God and people, especially children. Jesus is her ultimate joy and excitement in life and she is hungry to know and learn more about him. She is also married to a youth pastor who is a man after God’s heart.
Lovely Lao’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/lovely-salcedo.html