A dear friend once asked me: "Could God trust you with suffering?" I didn't know how to answer him then. The question always stuck with me. I hope this short message will help you answer that question. One of the greatest ways I’ve learned to identify a false preacher is not one often instantly apparent. What I mean is that it will most often take some distance of measure to identify it in someone’s teaching. One way to spot a false teacher is if their doctrine always seeks to make this life sound so great that the next one can simply wait. Their “Christianity” is one allergic to suffering. It has virtually no place in the pagan theology of men like Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne or Christian Harfouche. In this life, Jesus said, you will have trouble, John 16:33. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Christian life is surely one that should most often be filled with joy, pleasures and hope. It is filled with these things for most of us, but these things are never undiluted for the believer because of the suffering in our lives. For the believer, while there is great safety in the boat, we are always reminded that there are many not in the boat. Sometimes those outside the boat even go out of their way to remind us that they hate that we're in the boat, and that they hate the boat we're in. We’re reminded that there are a great many drowning in the icy waters all around us. We are reminded of hell by them. How can we be unremittingly happy in such a place? We can’t. We know that God’s wrath abides on evil people and so our joys in this life are always seasoned with the sadness of this life. This type of blessed mourning is usually completely unattended by the false preacher in my day. It is also true that trials await the believer. In those trials we are reminded that we are not yet home.

            If you do not live the Christian life you will not face these trials. If you do not desire to live a godly life it’s because you live a satanic one. You will not suffer wrongly for the sake of truth if you’re not of it. If you do live and love the truth: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Timothy 3:12. Persecution is a trial we’re facing more and more as a minority populace in America. We should welcome it. It will strengthen the church. In fact, as it comes we will receive from above evermore sweet and refreshing graces from God’s word. It is for the course-altering winds of persecution that the sails of faith are most needed. There is a purpose in them, dear Christian! There is a purpose in trials. Do not let the false man made gospel fool you. We are not working solely for this life; we are working mainly for the next. Christians are working for an eternal reward, and living, most truly, for the next life. Trials remind us of this. No matter how sweet God makes our time here, we're reminded that what’s to come is all the more sweet. God is working in trials to produce, in a sense, another person for another world. In the next life, that which we have done, become and produced for Christ will be our glory, Romans 2:6-10. It will be our great joy to have come to know the Lord in any way. Trials are a big part of that. “…now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:6-7. Trials are to test and prove us. We’re supposed to come through them and look back and see an undaunted faith that’s been strengthened by them. They’re tests we’re wise to pray to pass long before they even come. They prove us (mostly for us) before God. Please note: this isn’t just a consequence of them; it’s the very purpose of them! Every one of them has value. Trials are a part of life, as Peter intimates above, “if necessary.” God determines their necessity. The question for us becomes: do we suffer well? Do we learn from trials what they’re intended to teach us? 

            What are you suffering today, Christian? Are you suffering persecution at work? Are you suffering persecution because of your faith? God has fashioned it. If you knew the reward of it you’d rejoice. Are you sad over the lostness of a spouse, or a loved one? I’m sorry for you. In His hands, however, it is a tool. Romans 8:28 is a non-restricted guarantee for the believer. Knowing this doesn’t make it easy, but knowing this makes it eternally rewarding. Remember: “…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit,” John 15:2b. Suffering is a part of life, but not of eternal life. Let us thank God that all we’ve often got to suffer in America, as of now, are the slings and arrows of those who don’t like us. Don’t return evil for evil, Romans 12:17. This suffering must accompany us in such an evil time if were truly lights in this darkness. A true gospel will always remind us of the call to such suffering, and also assure us of a time to come that will be devoid of it.    

            Really, overall here, I only wish to remind you of the following: “…shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness,” Hebrews 12:9b-11. Remember: those who bear this fruit are pruned only to produce more of it. This fruit is good. It is peaceable and to be more desired than gold. Wanting it is actually a fruit of it. Suffer well. Seek God in it! Christian, God is sovereign!

Can He trust you with suffering?

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