Suffering - the Lost Paradigm

by Kelly Joel Weiler

Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
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“Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God
commit their souls to Him in doing good,
as to a faithful Creator.”

1 Pet 4:19

Is SUFFERING a biblical doctrine?

Because no 'normal' person would ever want to suffer, and till now we have faced so little of it here in North America or the nations we would call 'civilized', we have to a large degree missed the fact that suffering is a major biblical doctrine.  When we've seen the suffering of the saints who preceded us, we awkwardly shuffled the thought of it out of the way.

Times are changing rapidly, now we hear of wide-spread imprisonment, torture, rape and murder of Christians in numerous countries.  I heard Chuck Colson report last month of a thousand Christians rounded up by the police in Egypt, imprisoned, raped, tortured by electric shock, and some crucified!  Something of our cultural insulation protects us from appreciating that suffering is something promised to those who would live godly in Christ Jesus.

Yes, there is a biblical DOCTRINE of suffering.  I used to take it as history, or something far away, but never anything I could appreciate, more like some terrible victory of Satan in barbaric lands, never something I would expect to face, and certainly not something I would choose to go through if I had the choice!
 

Sometimes Suffering and Martyrdom is in the WILL OF GOD,
        and sometimes it is simply giving in to defeat!

* We have to get one things straight here right from the beginning, I am not some weird depressed masochist looking for pain.  Persecution at it's extreme is always Satanically instrumented.  There is a place for believers in the authority of Christ to stop some of these assaults dead in their tracks!

Senseless rape and murder is being used as a tactic of Satan to intimidate and eliminate the church, attempting to bring believers to early retirement and circumvent the plan of God.  I'm not interested in me or my family being a punching bag of the enemy.  Many times in the coming days I believe we are going to stop rapes and bullets and maybe even raging mobs by standing in their face taking spiritual authority over the demons that are driving them to murderous frenzy.  I do not see this type of martyrdom as a positive victory in the premature death of God's people, cutting off the destiny and the fruit that remained to be born through their LIFE!

 Many of you will face this kind of assault, and if the Spirit wells up inside you to fight with the spiritual weapons you have been trained in, go for it!  Don't waste yourself in some kind of a misguided 'Martyr syndrome'!

I heard a missionary once tell of how he gave a ride to (I think it was) a hitchhiker who once they got into a barren stretch of road turned a gun on him from the back seat.  The missionary who shared this story said the bandit insisted he was going to kill him.  Immediately he thought 'am I going to be martyred here alone in this third world country, actually, no this doesn't seem right, this is a waste! What good would this do the kingdom of God, and my wife and children.  My work stopped short!?'

'No' he thought, this isn't God's will!  The man of God turned to the bandit and replied in that instant "no, you can't kill me, I'm a man of God, and you can't kill me."  They bantered back and forth with the same words till the bandit was inflamed with fury. He forced the missionary to pull the car to the side of the road and the bandit in rage said again "Now I am going to rob you and kill you."  The missionary said again, taking the authority God gave him, and pointing his finger in the bandits face "you can't kill me, I am a man of God and you cannot kill me!"

The furious and probably demonized bandit emptied his pistol point blank at the man of God - not a bullet landed!  The bandit freaked out and the man of God gave him his watch and a few small belongings anyway, and the man ran away, the servant of God unharmed.

The church in much of the world has been preparing for just such a warfare for many years now by the teachings God has released of our call to battle and authority in Christ! WE ARE HEADED FOR AN ALL OUT CONFRONTATION WITH EVIL - AND IT IS GOING TO BE GLORIOUS-  AND IT IS GOING TO SOMETIMES BE UGLY - BUT EITHER WAY, WE WILL WIN ! ! !

There is a mistake we can make when persecution comes, lets say to imprison or kill.  In such a case it is not our obligation to look to suffer, open our shirt and say "go ahead and kill, rape, do your best, I am just your punching bag".  This is MISGUIDED unless the Spirit expressly says otherwise!

The early church and apostles often played a hit and run game with evil. When persecution became so intense they could be of no more effect, and death or capture would stop them from any more usefulness in the work, they would escape and hide, often going to another place. This is a legitimate tactic, and not a brand of cowardice.  Being let down in a basket over the wall at night is sometimes the bravest thing we can do, to go on to live another day to fight more important battles in the Lord's army, and maybe one of them will be unto death, but in the Lord's will, not Satan's timing!  We must not take a masochistic view of suffering, like it's God's ultimate best in all situations.

But there is sometimes a suffering that is in the will of God, and sometimes this is inevitable and unavoidable if we are to continue on the path of God, and He requires that we go through it rather than around it!.*
 

The Coming Persecution

Persecution has mounted at times in some countries recently to an insane frenzy.  Such actions it appears will expand to eventually encompass more and more territories, but this will stir the church to a fight!  Satan is pursuing an agenda of hate and rebellion against the church.  To effect this he has always tried to employ governments to take on his curriculum.

The prophetic scriptures tell us THE ADVERSARY (the meaning of the word Satan), will soon be allowed some temporary leeway to persecute and at times kill saints, and to the worldly perspective, "overcome them" :

The systems and personalities the Adversary will be temporarily allowed to employ against us are variously called such names as:

the Antichrist,
the beast,
the woman who sits upon the scarlet colored beast,
the great harlot.

In Daniel 7:21,22 He says "I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom."

It says he "shall persecute the saints of the Most High, . . .  the saints shall be given into his hand, for a time and times and half a time."  (v.25)
                     (see more in Dan.11:32-36. Rev.6:9-10;11:7-10;12:11,13:7,17:6;19:2,20:4)

Why does God allow this suffering?

It is apparent by the persecution and eventual death of eleven of the first apostles, and following and preceding them, most of the apostles and prophets of  history - suffering is allowed to serve a work in the purposes of God!

It all comes down to two basic things that I believe bear mature fruit through the suffering of God's beloved -

ONE - is a testimony to the church and the world of the worthiness of Christ as opposed to the love of this life!

TWO - and this is what I am about to expand on here, is what I believe God brings to full maturity what was lost in the fall, I call it 'THE CHOICE.'

                 WHO WILL YOU SERVE!
                                                                           (not just name Him, but love to the death for)

Our Father wants to perfect in each of us this choice - deep and complete - whom will you serve, when it comes right down to it, to the deepest part of your being, not just the superficial, the 'when it is convenient' parts!

It is all because the fall was very deep - deeper than we all realize.
 

How far the fall - How far the way back?

Adam and Eve, and Satan before them, in their turning, the choice they made was to step OUT OF THE COMMUNION CIRCLE of God.
            They couldn't live there because they chose to live FOR SELF!

"How unfair, how could God ask us to do this?  How could He put such requirements upon us if He is Love?!?" Ah, but can't you see, the Awesome God, the creator of the universe, Sovereign, Lord, Holy, Majestic, all this and more, is stooping down every moment to hear us and serve in some of our smallest needs and cares.  For thirty-three years His Son Jesus subjected Himself to men, the humiliation of taking on even the helplessness of an infant, putting Himself in the hands of men!
          Then living through our ignorance, our ridicule, our rejection, and ultimately His own people's  rejection and torture unto death.

    "But I don't reject Him, or put Him through sufferance" We exclaim.  For two thousand years He still suffers through our petty ignorance of Him, enduring our arrogance and rebellion, resisting the Holy Spirit in so many ways through our ignorance and coarseness.

Enduring our abuse of His Spirit by hurting one another with our harsh treatment of one another, and I mean in our homes and the church, His body!  No one suffers more abuse than God!

Is it too much for us to join Him in that kind of love - bearing with one another in our vast temporal imperfection?

His purpose - to restore all that was spoiled, to mature in us - selfless love!

What do you think it means when we are baptized, simply that Christ is the ONLY one who would have to die?!? No, the first thing baptism calls for is to -  join Him in that death.  To help us fulfill that, God allows many of us the honor of suffering in many ways to mature that choice, to perfect it in us to completion.  Because the completion of that will usher us fully into the freedom, and newness, and communion of life, freeing us from the bondage to the selfish SELF, suffering helps accomplish it's death!

SUFFERING is something that the fallen nature we inherited would never willfully accept, except when absolutely necessary (that's seems wise), but for selfish gain!  SUFFERING in the will of God on the part of a believer helps them to come full circle, to lay down, TO SACRIFICE, to follow through to completion a repentance, a complete and full turning from what Adam and Eve took into their own hands - THE LIFE OF SELF!

To discover the fullness maturing in us of true covenant love, all this when we must needs sacrifice for the sake of it.  We are enabled in suffering to bring to maturity the SELFLESS LOVE OF GOD IN US!

If this is why you suffer, for the love of God and love of others, you most likely suffer IN THE WILL OF GOD!

Whether we be a living sacrifice(Ro.12:1), daily, in large or many small ways,
or a martyr even unto physical death,
this is the fruit of the sufferer's testimony-

                 I HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE
                            TO KNOW HIS LOVE FLOWING  THROUGH ME,
LIKE A RIVER, IT HOLDS NOTHING BACK

NOW I KNOW THE FULL TASTE OF THAT LOVE THE LORD HAS ALWAYS LOVED ME WITH,
FOR I AM ONE WITH IT AND IT WITH ME,

SUCH SWEET COMMUNION
                      SUCH COMPANY OF LOVE,
                                                 WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS!

Kelly Joel Weiler
 
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  See also:

The Church of Laodicea and The Seal of the Living God

and also,

What To Do?

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