My friend, Gina, shared with our small group from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE, Lie Number 37: “I shouldn’t have to suffer.”
Everyone suffers , believer or not. But when we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, He journeys with us through our suffering. It does not mean that the believer’s life is all suffering. But neither is it true that the believer’s life is just all health, wealth, and success “stripped of the call to discipleship and cross bearing,” the call for holiness, repentance, sacrificial love, humility, purity, or depth of relationship with The Lord.
The latter is referred to as the “Prosperity Gospel”. It emphasizes only God’s ability to provide the temporal, material wants of man or that material abundance is the measure of God’s blessing (name it and claim it). The danger of the Prosperity Gospel is that those who are misled by it are deprived of the opportunity to grow the spiritual muscles that are needed in order to stand firm in the certain seasons of testing and waiting. Growing in the womb of the prosperity gospel only trains the person in the things he feels entitled to without the need for confronting sin so that when suffering comes, it is considered outside of God’s will and likely cause for the person to walk away from God. But in Philippians 2, Jesus Himself did not have a sense of entitlement.
Phil 2: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Nancy DeMoss busts the lie, “I shouldn’t have to suffer.” On page 222-223, she says:
“The message that the Lord Jesus Himself and by the apostles who followed Him was a call to take up the cross; it was a call to sign up for battle; it was a call to suffer… If we do not trust the heart and intentions of God, we will naturally resist suffering…The Truth is, it is impossible to be holy apart from suffering. Even Jesus Himself, during His years here on earth, was in some unexplainable way made ‘perfect through suffering’ (Hebrews 2:10); and ‘although He was a son, he learned obedience from what He suffered’ (Hebrews 5:8)…All the New Testament authors recognized that there is a redemptive, sanctifying fruit that cannot be produced in our lives apart from suffering…True joy is not the absence of pain but the sanctifying, sustaining presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst of pain. Through the whole process, whether it be a matter of days, weeks, months, or years, we have His promise: ‘The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.'”
We can hold on to God’s promise in Romans 8:28, For we know that in all things (including suffering), He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Even though we suffer, it will be for our good. Suffering will not be be in vain.