Are There Right and Wrong Understandings of Suffering?

Be encouraged in your faith in the Lord today if you are suffering in any capacity; it is not in vain. Trust in the Lord and know that He cares for you. Cast your cares on Him and trust Him.

Published May 15, 2023
Are There Right and Wrong Understandings of Suffering?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

How many times have you read this passage and pondered verse two in the Book of James? Truth be told, none of us want to suffer in any capacity. The comforts of life and ease in situations seem far more appealing.

Yet, the Bible tells us that as believers, we will suffer in various capacities. As someone who spent many years in the Word of Faith/hyper-charismatic movement, I held beliefs regarding suffering that contradicted Scripture.

Perhaps you are reading this and can relate to what I will share. Perhaps this is new to you, and you have a solid understanding of suffering in the Christian life.

Either way, we are encouraged by the Word of God and by the Spirit of God in our walk with the Lord, both on the mountaintop and in the deep valleys.

What Did I Once Believe about Suffering?

Over the past several years, having come out of this movement, our family has been faced with several situations that were trying, bringing thoughts of uncertainty and concern. Truthfully, I was faced many times with doubts and worry.

Jesus taught the crowds in Matthew 5-7, telling them in Matthew 6:25-34 not to be anxious or to worry about the things of life. Rather, He encouraged the people to place their faith and trust in God, who knows all things and who provides what we need.

We are to seek His Kingdom first, trusting that God will care for us (Matthew 6:33). I realize now how sinful it was to worry so much because it showed my lack of trust in God in those situations.

We are to take our weaknesses to the Lord and to be strengthened by Him. We need not dwell on circumstances that we cannot control. We cannot add an hour to our day by worrying (Matthew 6:27).

Though my anxiety and worry were for loved ones and their well-being, it revealed my lack of trust in the Lord. Thank God for His mercy and grace in revealing our weaknesses and our need for His strength in those moments!

I confess those weaknesses today, but in years past, those were not thoughts I would have even contemplated.

There were beliefs I held over the years that contaminated my understanding of suffering and had these circumstances happened to us while in this movement, I do not know how I would have fared. God knew that, and in His mercy, He brought us out of it.

I was taught that suffering was weakness. You were not to talk about it or give voice to it. If you did, you might empower the enemy to work in your life. If you accepted a doctor’s negative report, then you lacked faith, and you were giving power to that sickness.

You were not to claim sickness because your words were powerful. Instead, you were to speak to that sickness and command it to leave.

You were to declare the opposite of what you were told was reality. Your words held life and death, based on Proverbs 18:21. Oh, how quickly the beauty of Scripture in the correct context can be contorted and manipulated.

We were taught that suffering was not God’s best and that God would not allow difficult things to happen to us. You were the head and not the tail. You were above and not beneath.

If this sounds familiar, it is because this is found in Deuteronomy 28:13, and it pertains to Israel, not to our present-day amenities and comforts. Praying for God’s will to be done was discouraged because this was a sign of weakness.

You had to be cautious in telling certain professing believers that you needed prayer because they may pray in opposition to your prayer and hinder your breakthrough. If you came out from underneath a “spiritual covering,” you were opening yourself up to demonic assaults.

I am sure there are other beliefs I fail to recall at this point, but you can see the damage teachings and doctrines like this can bring. It negates the sovereignty of God, and it essentially attempts to make you God without you realizing it.

What Do I Believe about Suffering Now?

It has been four years since leaving this movement, and so much has changed. I praise God for the moments of difficulty and suffering because it has drawn me closer to Him. It has shown me my utter dependency upon Him daily.

We grow in our faith when we are tested and tried. We learn the importance of praising God in difficult moments, and we rest in His sovereignty. Charles Spurgeon said, “When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.”

Believing what I once did fought against the sovereignty of God, and there was no peace in it. Even in moments of concern and worry, there was an undercurrent of peace and assurance in the Lord. It is fully unexplainable, but it is recognizable when we know what His Word says about Him.

Count it all joy. There is always a reason to praise God. This was brought to my memory recently while facing a difficult situation in our family. After a good cry, I praised God for how He worked in the midst of the situation, regardless of the outcome desired. His ways are higher.

I have learned not to despise suffering, whether it is for the sake of the gospel and for Christ or if it is the result of a fallen world. Testing and trials cultivate perseverance, and they mature us spiritually.

Getting what we want and what we deem as good does not produce maturity. That produces self-sufficiency and a wrong view of God and His power. It is the equivalent of giving our children candy whenever they ask for it.

We know that those things may be pleasant at the moment, but over time, they lead to decay and problems in the body. We tell them “no” out of concern for them and for their well-being. It is the same with us as His children.

We have the privilege to come before His throne in prayer in our time of need and suffering. We are not promised we will get the answer we seek, but we trust Him, nevertheless. We pray according to His will, even when we cannot see what it is.

We trust Him, knowing that He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). This includes those things that bring suffering into our lives.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Why Does This Matter?

We cannot comprehend what awaits us in glory before the presence of our God. The sufferings we face now pale in comparison to what awaits us in eternity. They are but for a moment. This brings comfort to us and immeasurable joy.

Be encouraged in your faith in the Lord today if you are suffering in any capacity; it is not in vain. Trust in the Lord and know that He cares for you. Cast your cares on Him and trust Him. Let these light momentary afflictions work in you to His glory and to your maturity.

For further reading:

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Does Jesus Understand Our Suffering?

What Does the Bible Say about Suffering?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/sdominick authorDawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram

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