Aloha From The Pastor’s Desk
Is Suffering Beneficial? Absolutely!
There are many Christians who believe that as believers that we should not suffer. That it is not God’s will for a Christian to suffer and to always prosper(material prosperity). And if you suffer, it may because of a lack of faith or maybe there is sin in your life. Some Christians quote I John 3:2 in the KJV reads: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
Let me quote Gordon Fee, who is one of world’s top Greek scholars of our time and a man that has touched my life in so many ways with his teachings, said of this passage: “In the first place, the Greek word translated “prosper” in the KJV means to go well with someone,” just as a friend in a letter two days ago said, “I pray that this letter finds you all well,.” This combination of wishing for “things to go well” and for the recipients “good health” was the standard form of greeting in a personal letter in antiquity. To extend John’s wish for Gaius to refer to financial and material prosperity for all Christians of all times is totally foreign to the text.
It behooves us, to understand the “plain meaning” of the text. This scripture, as Dr. Fee says, was a common greeting in antiquity. It would be like, going to airport and saying to my son, as he is going to college, “I will be praying for you, my son, that all will go well with you and that you will be in good health.” It’s a wish and not a guarantee that all will go well.
Now suffering is part and parcel of the Christian life and there are some benefits to suffering. I have had my share of suffering. And suffering will accomplish three things in your life. Let me share with you the benefits.
The first thing suffering accomplishes, is that it keeps you pure. Nothing will purify you like suffering. A Goldsmith puts the gold in the melting pot and turns on the heat, in which the impurities of the gold will rise to the surface and with his scheming tool, he will remove the impurities, and he will continue to do this, until he is see his image perfectly reflected in the gold.
God will put you through the fires of trials to allow all that junk to surface from you life, so that you get rid them and this is a life long process, as we are becoming more like him in character. Form glory to glory, His changing us, His likeness and image to perfect in us.
The Second reason for suffering, is to keep you humble. Humility is not a part of our nature. It is not inborn or inherent. If anything, we are selfish. That’s part of our nature. We were born that way. Whereas, humility must be cultivated and God knows how to bring suffering our way to humble us.
We read how God allowed Satan to send a demon to buffet and give Paul a thorn in the flesh. The word “thorn” in the Greek means a “large stake.” The context makes it clear that it was some kind of a physical suffering that God never healed him of. He was afflicted in this way because of going to the third heaven, where he had revelations of heaven. He was given this thorn in his flesh, lest he be exalted. God knew that the experience he had could result in pride.
The third reason for suffering is to keep you dependent. When you’re brought low through suffering, you depend upon God. Your prayer life is never better then when it hurts.
God knows how to arrest our attention. C.S. Lewis said: “Pain is God’s mega phone to arrest our attention. I couldn’t have said it better.
I would highly recommend a book I’ve read many years ago by Phillip Yancey, “Where Is God When It Hurts?” He deals with suffering/pain that we all experience and also a another book that is worthwhile reading by Dr. James Dobson on: “When God Doesn’t Make Sense.”
I close by saying this, suffering is very beneficial and God will take it and use it for His glory. The Bible is peppered with men and woman suffering for the cause of Christ. Just read Hebrews chapter eleven. That should settle it for you.
Don’t believe those who say, it ‘s not God’s will for you to suffer. I don’t know what Bible there reading from. Sometimes it is the will of God, as He is working something good in your life. This is Biblical theology.