Suffering has been effective when you are more Christlike (i.e., more obedient) at its conclusion.
When we through our thoughts, words, and actions, say to God “not thy, but my will be done”, then He is obligated to honor our request since God will not override our free will. Consequently, God rightfully passes judgment (1) for suffering from Satan’s fallen world (1 John 5:19. Acts 26:18) to come into our lives. That is, God partially lifts the hedge of protection (1) allowing us to experience what we actually deserve based on our lack of Christ conformity and our many sins committed both knowingly and unknowingly. The goal of this suffering is to shape our character into that of Christ (Romans 5:3,4. Romans 8:28,29. James 1:2-4) which includes the removal of pride (2 Corinthians 12:7).
From scripture, we can see that Satan uses a consistent strategy when he attacks (2 Corinthians 2:11). This strategy was described by Jesus by a parable that He indicated was the key to understanding all the other parables (Mark 4:13). Satan will come to try and remove God’s Word from our lives (Mark 4:17. Job 1:10,12. 1 Corinthians 5:5). This is because the Word of God is the source of our strength (Hebrews 1:3. Romans 1:16).
Furthermore, Jesus described in this parable how Satan will do everything in his ability to stop the seed (i.e., God’s Word Luke 8:11)) from growing in our spiritual hearts (1). Satan was the Archangel Lucifer in Heaven (1); therefore, he understands that everything in the Kingdom of God works on the planting of seeds, tending them, and harvesting (1).
He told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. (Matthew 13:3,4 NET)(Mark 4:3,4. Luke 8:5)
“So listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path. (Matthew 13:18,19 NET)(Mark 4:14,15. Luke 8:11,12)
Satan first tries to prevent the Word from growing in your heart (Matthew 13:19) through:
- man’s tradition (Mark 7:13),
- legalism – a performance-based relationship with God (Galatians 5:4), or
- worldly reasoning (1 Corinthians 1:17).
Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep. But when the sun came up, they were scorched, and because they did not have sufficient root, they withered. (Matthew 13:5,6 NET)(Mark 4:5,6. Luke 8:6)
The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root in himself and does not endure; when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20,21 NET)(Mark 4:16,17. Luke 8:13)
However, if the Word does start to grow, he causes that Word to be dried up by sending you persecution (Mark 4:16,17). We get so busy watching the sea that we forget about the “C”-o-m-e! (Matthew 14:28-30).
Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.” So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28–31 NET)
This is the test of failure: when everything seems to be going wrong with the aim to cause us to focus on the problems and not the Promises of the Bible that can set us free (2 Peter 1:4).
Other seeds fell among the thorns, and they grew up and choked them. (Matthew 13:7 NET)(Mark 4:7. Luke 8:7)
The seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth choke the word, so it produces nothing. (Matthew 13:22 NET)(Mark 4:18,19. Luke 8:14)
If the Word cannot be dried up, then he tries to prevent the Word from growing enough to bear fruit by distracting us with cares, pleasure, or contentment (Luke 8:14). We become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:4).
This is the test of success: when we get so busy with all that is going right that we no longer can find time for an intimate relationship with God (Hebrews 12:1).
Remember, Satan brought the suffering to break us but God judged it right to come upon us in order to make us (1).
Verses about Suffering as a Believer
“A disciple is not greater than his teacher, nor a slave greater than his master. It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more will they defame the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24–25 NET)
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first.If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too. (John 15:18–20 NET)
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 NET)
But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart. “I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one—I in them and you in me—that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me. (John 17:13–23 NET)
So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, (1 Peter 4:1 NET)
Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. (1 Peter 4:12–16 NET)
Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one in military service gets entangled in matters of everyday life; otherwise he will not please the one who recruited him. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he will not be crowned as the winner unless he competes according to the rules.The farmer who works hard ought to have the first share of the crops. Think about what I am saying and the Lord will give you understanding of all this. (2 Timothy 2:3–7)
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body—for the sake of his body, the church—what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (Colossians 1:24 NET)
For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him, since you are encountering the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing. (Philippians 1:29,30 NET)
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. (James 1:2–4 NET)
The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them. (Psalm 34:19 NET)
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. (1 Thessalonians 1:6 NET)
so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know. (1 Thessalonians 3:3,4 NET)
This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering. (2 Thessalonians 1:5 NET)
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, a prisoner for his sake, but by God’s power accept your share of suffering for the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:8 NET)
Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 NET)
The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the Lord tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3 NET)
Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have purified you in the furnace of misery. (Isaiah 48:10 NET)
As the crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, so a person is proved by the praise he receives. (Proverbs 27:21 NET)
He delivers the afflicted by their afflictions, he reveals himself to them by their suffering. (Job 36:15)
They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” (Acts 14:22 NET)
When they arrived, he said to them, “You yourselves know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, and with the trials that happened to me because of the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem without knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:18–24 NET)
From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. (Galatians 6:17)
You, however, be self-controlled in all things, endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:5–8 NET)
This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6–7 NET)
And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him belongs the power forever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10,11 NET)
Sometimes it takes a deep hurt to feel a deep need for God
Yahweh-Jireh (Yir’eh) – The Lord My Provider (Genesis 22:14)
(New Covenant Equivalent(s): 1 Corinthians 10:13. 1 Timothy 6:17).
But other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. The one who has ears had better listen!” (Matthew 13:8,9 NET)(Mark 4:8,9. Luke 8:8)
But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23 NET)(Mark 4:20. Luke 8:15)
If we love God, then we will obediently turn to Him in the trial (John 14:15), and then God will cause it to work for our good (Romans 8:28).
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30 NET)
Working to our good does not mean obtaining what we want or think we need but rather fulfilling God’s purpose of our being conformed to the image of His unique Son the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:17,18. Romans 8:29).
God’s discipline is focused on mending broken relations, not mending broken rules
“Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many baskets you took up?” (Matthew 16:9,10 NET)
That is, God is more than enough in every situation and wastes nothing. Everything has a purpose, and nothing happens by accident. The happy times and the sad times. The triumphs and the tragedies. Everything has a purpose. While we may weep through the hard times and be broken-hearted over the pain others experience through those times; we can be comforted to know that none of it is for nothing. Everything has a purpose; God wastes nothing.
Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3–5 NET)
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. (Matthew 5:11–12 NET)
By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:19 NET)
God Wastes Nothing
Those that have learned the following Biblical steps will cause the suffering to be effective. Suffering has been effective when you are more Christlike (i.e., more obedient) at its conclusion.
- Call upon the Lord and acknowledge that He in control of all things (1) including the situation that is bringing the suffering (Acts 4:24. 2 Chronicles 7:14). (That is, we give the battle to the Lord of the Sabaoth – the Lord of the Armies of Heaven! (Revelations 19:11-16. James 5:4).
- Bring to your remembrance what God who is love (1) has done in the past (1 John 4:8. 1 Samuel 7:12. 2 Timothy 3:11) and the promises of our covenant with God (i.e., the Bible) (Acts 4:25-28). (As we do this, it not only gives glory to God, but it causes our faith to grow as we remember all that He has done in the past. We will then be more able to trust Him for the future. (2))
- State the situation that is causing the suffering and why according to our covenant (1) (i.e., The Bible) it is not just (i.e., because Jesus has already paid the price for our salvation, deliverance, healing, etc.) (Nehemiah 4:8,9. Acts 4:29. 1 Corinthians 1:30).
- Ask God (1) to intervene and place our lives completely in His hands (2 Timothy 1:12). We now must wait upon the Lord (1) with patience. (Failure to get quiet before God can delay progression to the next step) (1 Samuel 3:9,10. Psalms 33:18-22. Psalms 46:10. Acts 4:29,30).
- God will reveal to us His plan of deliverance (i.e., His vision for our circumstances) (Acts 4:31).
- Praise God that what He has promised is as good as done (i.e., exercise faith (1)) (Mark 11:24. Romans 4:17).
- Act on what God has revealed to us (i.e., be obedient!) (Psalms 81:13. Isaiah 1:19;55:2. Acts 4:31,33 (Now that we have submitted to God it is time to resist the devil! (1 Peter 5:8,9. James 4:7)) (3)
- Give all the glory to God (1) for the victory! (1 Timothy 1:17)
If we turned to God (1) thanking Him for the suffering (1 Thessalonians 5:18. Ephesians 5:20) and offer up the sacrifice of praise giving thanks to Jesus’ Name (Hebrews 13:15) our flesh is crucified. We become conformed to His death and learn obedience (1) through the suffering (Hebrews 5:8;2:10,18;4:15). Consequently, our suffering has been effective! (2 Corinthians 4:17,18. Psalms 30:5)
God keeps a written record of our suffering, including the number of our tears. He ensures none of it is wasted. All of it can be used to transform us into Christlikeness if we allow Him to teach us how to suffer effectively. Amen.
“You keep track of my misery. Put my tears in your leather container! Are they not recorded in your scroll?” Psalms 56:8
(Peace, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 2 NET)
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