Suffering and sickness in the Holy Bible – Part 6
The Suffering Of The Righteous Cont.
“Satan walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet 5:8-9).
The story of Job centres on an upright, God-fearing man whom God permitted to be tormented by Satan with unspeakable sufferings (see especially Job 1-2). Jesus testified that one of the women He healed had been bound by Satan for 18 years (cf. Lk 13:11, 16). Paul recognised that his thorn in the flesh was “the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2Cor 12:7). As we engage in spiritual warfare against “the rulers of darkness of this world” (Eph 6:12), we will inevitably suffer adversity. In order to deal with such assaults, God has given us spiritual armour (Eph 6:10-18 see 6:11) and spiritual weapons (2 Cor 10:3-6). Response: we must put on the full armour of God and pray (Eph 6:10-18), resolving to persevere faithfully in His strength.
(b) Satan and his followers delight in persecuting believers. Those who love the Lord Jesus and follow His principles of truth and righteousness will be persecuted for their faith. In fact, such suffering because of righteousness may be an indication of our genuine devotion to Christ (see Mat 5:10; 1 Pet 4:12). Response: since all true believers are called to suffer persecution and reproach because of righteousness, we must stand firm and keep on trusting Him Who judges justly (Mat 5:10-11; 1Cor 15:58; 1 Pet 2:23).
(5) More positively, another reason believers suffer is that “we have the mind of Christ” (see 1Cor 2:16). To be a Christian means to be in Christ, to be one with Him. Consequently, we share in His sufferings (see 1Pet 2:21). For example, just as Christ wept in agony over the wicked city of Jerusalem and their refusal to repent and accept salvation (see Luke 19:41), so we are to weep over humanity’s sinfulness and lustiness. Included in Paul’s list of sufferings for Christ’s sake (2 Cor 11:23-32; see 11:23) was his daily concern for the churches he had founded: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” (2 Cor 11:29). Such mental anguish over those whom we love in Christ should be a natural part of our lives: “weep with them that weep” (Rom 12:15). In fact, sharing in Christ’s sufferings is a prerequisite for being glorified with Christ (Rom 8:17). Response: we must thank God that just as Christ’s sufferings are ours, so also is His comfort (2Cor 1:5).
(6) God Himself may use suffering in our lives as a catalyst to spiritual growth or change (a) He often uses suffering to call His straying people to repent of their sins and renew their faith and trust in Him (see the book of Judges).
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