Suffering is God’s Will for the Faithful


By Craig Bluemel




Acts 9:15-16

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel; For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted, must endure, and suffer for My name's sake.”  Amplified Bible




Blind Charismatics


The words spoken BY the Lord Jesus Himself in Acts 9:15-16 are a direct message to one of his disciples named Ananias.  In Acts 9:10-16, Jesus came in a vision form to Ananias for the express purpose of giving to him one of the most profound messages found in the entire New Testament.  Ananias would be the disciple of Jesus who delivered to Saul of Tarsus, (at the time a violent persecutor of the church), the anointed message of his incredible ministry to both Jew and Gentile; and immediately thereafter, he would baptize Saul in water in Jesus’ name, and then later rename the apostle Paul. 


Paul would then start to preach Jesus as the son of God in Jewish synagogues and amongst the Gentiles, and he would also become the inspired author of nearly half of the New Testament canon of scripture.  In the next passage of Acts 10:17-18, read what happened when Ananias delivered his message from Jesus to Paul (Saul):


Acts 10:17-18 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized, he took food, and was strengthened.  Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition


The scales that fell off of Saul’s eyes had been placed there to blind him in Acts 9:3-8, stopping his persecution of the church, which he did in sincere ignorance, thinking it was God’s will to end the new heresy called ‘The Way’ (i.e. the faith in Jesus).  Of chief importance in this study is what Jesus said to Ananias, “For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted, must endure, and suffer for My name's sake.”  From the onset of his conversion to faith in God thru Jesus Christ, it was going to be made “clear” to him what things he must “suffer.”


“Suffer?  Who me?  Oh no, I’m not gonna suffer; my God doesn’t allow His children to suffer!”  This is perhaps the most insidious lie promulgated by the devil amongst mainly charismatic Christians today, who are being deceived by the millions thru the false doctrines and evil trickery of men who deny that suffering is God’s will.  These lukewarm, Laodicean zealots sincerely believe in error that God does not allow suffering in the lives of born-again Christians. 


Those who ascribe to the ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ pseudo-gospel message cannot even conceptualize the God uses suffering for His great purposes in this life.  Theirs’ is a sugarcoated gospel that denies the reality of suffering in this life by pretending in their own pitifully wanting and backslidden spiritual existence that the reason they don’t can be attributed to their great faith.  Their false claims are then selfishly lavished upon themselves as a pseudo-badge of ‘anointing’ and ‘approval’ of God’s faith.  These types of believers are those described by Jesus to the apostle John in Revelation 3:


Revelation 3:15-19 I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking.  You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot!  You’re stale.  You’re stagnant.  You make me want to vomit.  You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.  Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire.  Then you’ll be rich.  Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven.  You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.  The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!”  The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002


The Charismatic message that espouses these pseudo-gospel ideas is also known as 'blessings-and-financial-prosperity-doctrine' or ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ doctrines.  Those Christian who fall for this lie are also quick to criticize those who suffer, particularly if they are believers.  Peter’s epistle (1 Peter 4:12-19) explains what Jesus meant when he advises them to buy gold refined in the fire; can you guess what it involves?  Yep, suffering!


One need only turn on one of the alleged ‘Christian’ television networks to hear and see one of the ministers of greed parading their wares in ostentatious arrogance.  They use the sick, the hurting, and the afflicted as fodder for their condescension of God’s faithful ones who suffer.  What is even more despicable is that they vainly imagine their message has the approval of God or Jesus.  Unless they repent big time, the things that they speak will come back to them later in life; if not on this earth, then for sure in the eternal realm of judgment to come.


Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord , did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”  New American Standard Bible


I have heard two well-known charismatic televangelists, both speaking in the typical southern drawl and they mockingly taunt and flaunt their surreptitious evil by making fun of those believers who hold fast to the word of God in Scripture, trusting in Jesus to make them more compassionate and merciful thru the things that they suffer.  This evil mockery goes something like this:


TELEVANGELIST “Well folks, I’ve heard them Christians out there, who sit and waller in their pain and sickness, and they never get healed, because they sit there confessing the negative.  Ya gotta find God DESTINY and ya won’t find it if ya think that God wants ya sufferin’.  Ohhh, I can hear em’ now a sayin’ now ‘Well brother, I’m just holdin’ onto God’s word, and trustin’ in Him to use my suffering for His glory.  Shucks folks!  That ain’t true!  That’s the biggest lie from the devil I ever heard.  God heals every one of His children that come to Him in FAITH.  Folks, ya gotta have faith to please God, or you’ll never get healed.”


I’m sure anyone reading this article knows exactly what I’m describing here and has seen the same corruption on television posing as ‘Christian.’  After witnessing this evil, no wonder so many people in America don’t want anything to do with Christ.  I say to these false teachers, “Woe to you on the day of reckoning, when Jesus sits upon his Father’s throne, separating the sheep from the goats.”  They are casting God’s precious pearls to their swinish ridicule by trampling down the Son of God by scoffing at the hearts of His children who suffer.


Matthew 7:1-6 "Do not judge lest you be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.  Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.  New American Standard Bible


The antics and self-righteous indignation of false teachers that promote such evil are nothing more than Satan masquerading and disguising himself as ministers of light (which is really darkness). Their spiritual blindness is not unlike that which the man named Saul of Tarsus was doing.  They may not persecute their own brethren by imprisoning and beating them as Saul of Tarsus was doing, however, it is the same lying spirit that uses their tongue as an evil poison to hurt the wounded and bleeding hearts of those who struggle with chronic and other types of physical, psychological, and emotional suffering.


These deceived Christians falsely teach a God who always heal (physically) and who never allows His children to suffer harm.  Such teaching, which now permeates a great percentage of the alleged ‘Charismatic Christian’ churches, and is so diabolically practiced that if anyone teaches against it, they are sharply accused of having a lack of faith.  Sometimes calling themselves, “Faith teachers,” they are like Saul before his conversion.  They are the blind leaders of the blind, supposing that their alleged ‘anointing’ to heal and do miraculous things in Jesus’ name is evidence that they are indeed following after him. 


However, the same charismatic message never focuses its attention on key teachings of Jesus in the gospels, which warn that there will arise false teachers and false prophets amongst the believers in the church, who will say like the true believer, “Lord, Lord, “ but they do not know the REAL and the SUFFERING Jesus.



Why We are Called to Suffer


In the apostle Paul’s message to the Philippians he tells them to dwell upon whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is OF GOOD REPUTE, anything excellence and if ANYTHING WORTHY OF PRAISE (Read Philippians 4:8).  The 'blessings-and-financial-prosperity-doctrine' would have you to believe that none of these things include suffering.  But let’s look at the verses of scripture that follow, and see if divine healing is one of them:


Philippians 4:11-13, 23 …for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means… in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction…23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition


Notice that Paul has learned to be “content” in every situation, whether having a full stomach, or going hungry, having abundance (not wealth either) and suffering need.  Note in verse 14 that he encourages the Philippians to, “…share with me in my affliction.”  Hmmm.  That would not sit well with the 'blessings-and-financial-prosperity-doctrine' folks.


2 Thessalonians 1:3-5…brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater…among the churches of God… for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. New American Standard Bible


If you read on in the narrative of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (Read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12) you find that he offers them no earthly reward or promises that their suffering will end, but only that when Jesus ‘comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed…’   This faith and trust is the only kind that makes us into true disciples of Christ.  Are we to think that we are above our Lord and Master?  (Read Mark 10:32-34).  Below is a scripture passage the nicely summarizes the reason for suffering and how to handle and use it for spiritual growth:


1 Peter 4:12-19 And now, dear friends of mine. I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience.  13 You should be glad, because it means that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings.  One day, when he shows himself in full splendor, you will be filled with the most tremendous joy.  14 If you are reproached for being Christ’s followers, that is a cause for joy, for you can be sure that God’s Spirit of glory is resting upon you.  15 But take care that none of your number suffers as a murderers, or a thief, a rogue or a busybody!  16 If he suffers as a Christian he has nothing to be ashamed of and may glorify God by confessing Christ’s name.  17 The time has evidently arrived for God’s judgment to begin, and it is beginning at his own household.  And if it starts with us, what is it going to mean to those who refuse to obey the gospel of God?  18 If even the good man is only just saved, what will be the fate of the wicked and the sinner?  19 Therefore these who suffer according to God’s will can safely commit their souls to their faithful Creator, and go on doing all the good they can.  Phillip’s New Testament


As one who has suffered a great deal, I know that it is important to direct your mental and emotional energy into God’s purposes for suffering.  Otherwise, if you don’t, it is easy to become depressed, downtrodden, and look at the meaning of your sufferings with endless, unanswered questions to God of, “Why?”



How to Deal with Your Suffering


Below are some important lessons to glean from Peter’s epistle (1 Peter 4:12-19), and use these precepts if you are suffering, whether sickness (emotional & physical), worries from life’s difficulty, distress because of your Christian testimony, a loved one, especially a child that is seriously ill or suffering, etc. 


#1 DO NOT BE UNDULY ALARMED (1 Peter 4:12) – We ought to think of suffering as the norm for the true believer and not as though it were some abnormal experience.  Actually, you ought to have more concern if you’re never suffering, as this is likely to be an indicator of lukewarmness.


#2 GOD ALLOWS FIERY ORDEALS (SUFFERING) TO TEST YOUR FAITH (1 Peter 4:12) – God Himself does not tempt you, but He does subject you to testing.  Job was tested because of his righteousness and his blameless walk.  The 'blessings-and-financial-prosperity-doctrine' criticizes Job saying that his faith faltered, but if you read the Book of Job, you will see how stupid such claims are, and the New Testament praises the faith and endurance of Job. Job 1:1says that Job was a blameless, upright man, fearing God, and turning away from evil.  Job 1:5 says Job “continually” prayed and consecrated his life to God. 


In Job 1:8, when Satan accused him, Yahweh said to the accuser, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright, one revering God and avoiding evil?”  James 5:1-5 condemns the evil behavior of those in the church that become deceived and partial thru wealth and materialism, and James 5:6 reveals the same condescending treatment of the ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ towards those who suffer, “You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”  NASB


The truly righteous, on the other hand, are instructed to use as personal examples the sufferings of the Old Testament prophets and Job in James 5:10-11, “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”


#3 YOU SHOULD BE GLAD TO SHARE IN CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS.  One day, when he shows himself in full splendor, you will be filled with the most tremendous joy.  (1 Peter 4:13)


#4 IF YOU SUFFER GOD’S SPIRIT OF GLORY IS RESTING UPON YOU.  If you are reproached for being Christ’s followers, that is a cause for joy (1 Peter 4:14).


#5 IF YOU SUFFER AS A CHRISTIAN YOU NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF! The way to handle day-to-day chronic suffering is to find your purpose in helping others.  In this manner, you will glorify God by confessing Jesus Christ in the midst of your affliction, and become an example of God’s strength in weakness to others who suffer (1 Peter 4:16)


#6 JUDGMENT BEGINS FIRST AT GOD’S HOUSE.  If you suffer now, you’re a forerunner to the rest of God’s church, which WILL face judgment (1 Peter 4:17).


#7 THOSE WHO SUFFER ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL CAN SAFELY COMMIT THEIR SOULS TO THEIR FAITHFUL CREATOR, AND GO ON DOING ALL THE GOOD THEY CAN! (Peter 4:19)  The apostle Paul was sorely afflicted with a physical, flesh eating type of disease that was given to him as a ‘thorn in the flesh.’  There’s no way the ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ or 'blessings-and-financial-prosperity-doctrine' folks can squeeze their way out of what this text says, because it is clear that Paul describes the reason for his infirmity as being to keep his ego and pride in check.


 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 So tremendous, however, were the revelations that God gave me that, in order to prevent my becoming absurdly conceited, I was given a stabbing pain––one of Satan’s angels––to plague me and effectually stop any conceit.  8 Three times I begged the Lord for it to leave me, 9 but his reply has been, “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.”  Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ.  10 I can even enjoy weaknesses, insults, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him.  Phillip’s New Testament


I have found the same thing to be true; not that I claim to have the same abundance of revelations as Paul did.  But I do have an ego that I’m certain is equal to Paul’s ego and for that very reason, I am sure that my present afflictions involve keeping my pride in check.


How to Help Those who Suffer


Acts 20:35 "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  New American Standard Bible


The Greek word for ‘weak’ is oftentimes translated in the New Testament as “sick” but also connotes a person’s general weakness, whether it be spiritual, material, physical, emotional, etc.  The Greek word for “help” (as in ‘help the weak’) is defined below:


“help” = antilambánomai NT:482; it means to take hold of in turn, i.e. support; also to participate. The apostle Paul uses this term as describing what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples it is more blessed to give than to receive.   Antilambánomai means to take hold of another that is weak and as a church, to mutually support him or her from falling.  It is tantamount to saying today, “Let’s take that person by the hand and support, help, and assist them.”  1 Timothy 6:2 uses antilambánomai denoting the kind of support we are to give for another’s a burden.


The ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ teaching wrongly interprets most verses that uses the Greek word asthenia and its word cognates to relate only to physical sickness.  In reality, this word more often than not is used in the New Testament epistles representative of those believers who are weak in the faith, and whose struggles with the ‘weakness’ of the flesh are being described.  Such is the case in James 5:14-15, which says, “Is anyone of you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”


The 'blessings-and-financial-prosperity-doctrine' folks jump all over this verse, and they claim that with the right amount of faith, the sick person in the church will always be healed.  However, as usual, these false teachings distort the text, and ignore verses that follow, such as in James 5:16, which begins with the word, “THEREFORE…”  Therefore means ‘for this reason; consequently.’  It refers back to James 5:14-15, and by reading verses 16-17, you’ll find that it is not describing physical healing, but healing that comes from confessing one’s faults openly (which can help the body heal itself, as the stress and guilt are deleted once the person shares his or her troubled soul).


James 5:16-20 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. 19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition


The same exact Greek word that is misused for divine healing and rendered improperly as ‘sick’ in James 5:14 is also used in Romans 8:3 describing what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”  NASB


If charismatics would stop this nonsense of claiming divine healing in each and every circumstance, and start being more loving and supportive of those who are sick and suffering, we just might see some physical healings take place in the churches and it happened in the first century. 



What Possible Good Comes From Suffering?




2 Corinthians 6:4-10 In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. NASB




2 Timothy 3:10-17 But you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience , love, perseverance,11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me!  12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  NASB




James 5:10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience , take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. NASB




2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. NASB




1 Peter 2:20-23 But if you bear patiently with suffering which results when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and pleasing to God.  21 For even to this were you called it is inseparable from your vocation. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you His personal example, so that you should follow in His footsteps.  22 He was guilty of no sin, neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips.  23 When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; when He was abused and suffered, He made no threats of vengeance; but he trusted Himself and everything to Him Who judges fairly. [Isaiah 53:9.]  Amplified Bible


2 Corinthians 7:4-7…I am filled with comfort . I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.  5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.  6 BUT GOD, WHO COMFORTS THE DEPRESSED, COMFORTED US by the coming of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you…  NASB




1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. NASB


The Beatitudes Include Suffering, but not Healing…Hmmm


Matthew 5:1-12

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 

5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 

7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

11-12 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  NKJV



Luke 6:20-26

20"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 

21a Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled.

21b Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. 

22-23 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you, revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!  For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. 

24 "BUT WOE TO YOU WHO ARE RICH, for you have received your consolation. 

25 WOE TO YOU WHO ARE FULL, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. 

26 WOE TO YOU WHEN ALL MEN SPEAK WELL OF YOU, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.  NKJV







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