Borrowed Truths

Suffer Well

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Suffer Well

I recently listened to a pastor speaking on the radio about the subject of suffering and how it relates to the believer in Christ. He mentioned how all those who are Christians will indeed suffer in this life, which of course I agreed with, for the Scriptures are quite clear in this area (Matt.5 10-11), he also stated that this suffering was allowed by our Lord for the maturation of their faith, and again I was in agreement with his words, but I found the conclusion of his topic to be one that I could not agree with him on.

He stated, unless I misunderstood him, that those who did not endure the suffering were not Christians in the first place, that their faith in Christ was not real to begin with. On this part I must contend in two areas, one is that he used 1 Cor. 10:13, and temptation is not a point of suffering, for all temptation is either from within ourselves or of the adversary, and it combines both forces within us, it makes us choose. These temptations are common to man, and the way out is shown to us so that we may bear them, sometimes for our entire lives. A choice that we must make between our desires that inevitably are against the will of God, and the denial of that temptation is not suffering. For the word temptation is in reference to something that we want, if there is suffering in the temptation, then to a degree his point would be valid, but the type of suffering he intended to begin his conversation with was not one of suffering for an entire lifetime, suffering in the Scriptures, as much as I can discern, is a short term condition, meant to assist the believer into becoming more mature in his faith, and if that suffering was continuous, the end result would never be achieved.

For Paul, who was shown what “great things he must suffer” (Acts 9:16), did not suffer continuously and without rest, many times he expresses his joy in the epistles he wrote. A temptation is not a sin unless we accept it willingly into our lives and begin to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, and a resisted temptation, though it can last for the entirety of our lives, is not suffering, for we have been promised that we will be able to bear it. If the temptation remains constant in our minds, always at the forefront of our thoughts, then our actions have proven it to already be a sin, the body does not need to react, for “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) A temptation that we are bearing therefore, no matter the length of it, if it only rears its ugly head occasionally, is not suffering, for we have learned to bear this burden.

The other verse that I would bring to your attention is 1 John 2:28, those who will be ashamed at His coming. There are some who will indeed be ashamed at the moment of the rapture, and for many reasons, but one of them will be that they did not suffer well. The trial of suffering was sent upon them for the specific reason that they would mature in their faith, but they failed in this area, the suffering was meant for a purpose, but in that purpose they did not grow. Here is where I would need to disagree, just because we fail in a specific trial of suffering that our Lord has sent upon us does not mean that we are not one of His children, it means that we are not a mature servant of Christ, yet. The more instances of suffering that our Lord sends upon us the closer we grow towards Him, but not necessarily in every instance.

Many times there are those who remain stagnant, their faith in Him is sure, but it does not grow in the way that some others might mature, they love Him, they trust Him, they suffer, but they do not grow at a rate, or achieve the same maturity level as some of their brother and sisters in Christ may be exhibiting. These for this reason will be ashamed at His coming, but they will still be going with us, they will have much wood, hay and stubble, and very few precious stones, they will receive little if any rewards because they did not suffer well, but they will still be going. These are in a sense the perpetual weaker brother, saved by grace thru faith, yes, growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, rarely, but still growing. Who had more faith, those that followed Him throughout His entire ministry, or the woman who snuck up behind Him to touch the hem of His garment, Abraham, Moses, Paul, or the thief on the cross. Just because on an occasion or two we do not suffer well does not mean that we are not saved, those who reject Christ as Lord are not saved, not those who do not grow in their faith when a particular trial presents itself to a degree that others think they should. Who will suffer well, those who have never known suffering before they came to Christ, or those who knew the word full well?

My wonderful wife knows full well the word suffering, from her earliest memories until she reached the age of thirty-eight, a life of pain, sorrow and suffering, some self-inflicted, others cast upon her by those that knew no love for her, this was all she knew. Does she need more, do any believe that one who endured so much suffering should need to endure more, or can she draw on memories of her past to show her how much the Lord loves her now, and loves her just as much as He did then. Not all who know the Lord as Savior suffer well, but all who call Him Lord are willing to suffer, right up to their own death if He asks them to, anytime He asks.

Our proof of Salvation is not in how we suffer only, though it is indeed one of them, our proof is the continuing life long walk in obedience to the Lord, in our growth in the knowledge of the grace and mercy that He bestows upon us daily, not the pace of that growth that others think it should be. I know this for a fact, the patience that the Lord is teaching me is being taught in the person of a loving wife who knows full well what the word suffering means, and I am infinitely blessed because of her, she suffers in grace better than anyone I have ever met. Some of us grow slower than others, if you are mature in this area, it should be your honor and privilege to assist those who are not.

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