Suffering and His Amazing Grace

“I’m not sure God wants us to be happy. I think he wants us to love, and be loved. But we are like children, thinking our toys will make us happy and the whole world is our nursery. Something must drive us out of that nursery and into the lives of others, and that something is suffering.”

–C. S. Lewis

I look back on my times when I “was on top of my game” doing “ministry,” and I cringe–I was abrasive, rude and self-willed at best. There was so much flesh! I have recently started to see the value of suffering in my life and how God has used it (and does use it) to keep that old Adam in me in check so that Jesus can be seen. With greater depth, by the light of the Spirit, I have been understanding more clearly what Peter was talking about when he wrote:

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. (1Pet 4:1-2, RSV – emphasis added)

It seems that sin is never far away when everything is going our way. In Hebrews we read:

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, (Hebrews 5:7-9, RSV – emphasis added)

God uses suffering to deal with our carnal natures and to bring us into the perfection of His obedient Son. If Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered, what makes us think that we will learn it some easier way? Is the servant greater than His Master? “He learned obedience through what he sufferedbeing made perfect…” God is after perfection in His sons and daughters and He uses our suffering and grief to get us there.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Heb 12:11-13, RSV)

Ouch! Since I wrote the above yesterday morning, I was working in our yard and with some help from a friend we moved our little greenhouse. Well, all of a sudden my back got worse, as if I might have received another compression fracture in a vertebrae. Now I can hardly move without sharp pains and back spasms.

Lord, give me your grace and strengthen my weak back so that the lame (physically and spiritually) I encounter, may be healed. Like Paul said:

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2Cor 4:10-12, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

“Always.” So the lesson from my Master continues. Praise His name forever!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

“Amazing Grace”~ by John Newton

24 comments on “Suffering and His Amazing Grace

  1. dimple says:

    Father, I agree with Michael’s prayer, in Jesus’ name.

    Like

  2. Grover says:

    Thanks, Michael… what a timely word! At a time when many believers have been taught that suffering and trials end when we come to Christ! He is faithful to bring us THROUGH all these diverse things. We have the victory, yes, but not by being taken OUT of the training process. My wife was totally healed from cancer years ago, without surgery or chemo, but last week, she (we) had to go through a surgery where cancer was detected. Thankfully, the cancer hadn’t moved into other organs, but we had to go through the process. Our faith was tried, but we found our God faithful once again, and she is on the way to recovery. Blessings, Grover

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for sharing your lives with us, Grover. This morning the Lord reminded me of a verse in Psalms as I talked with another brother on the phone: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” (Ps 34:19, NKJV) Then He said, “I also deliver those who are mine THROUGH their afflictions.” He has been showing me how He is purifying many of us through suffering.

      “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:16-17, ESV)

      When I was young in the Lord I went though a time where everything was wonderful and pain free. I finally asked the Lord, “Am I still your child? If so, where is my chastening?” It was not long until He let me know how much He love me through some rigorous trials. Not exactly the gospel we find in those “seeker friendly” churches these days.

      My brother, it is good to hear that your dear wife is doing well. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Ken Burgess says:

    Michael, bless you dear brother. I certainly can identify with the things that you, Darnella and I and I’m sure many, many more of the “Sons of God,” are going thru during this process. I have never met anyone who enjoys suffering at any level. Because of the erroneous and life killing messages that have been preached and embraced by us in the past and untold millions in this current age it is rare to find anyone who is willing to embrace the process of purification we are in. “But thanks be to God,” as Paul says in Romans 7:25. And Thanks be to God in all things as we embrace the place of suffering for HiS name sake.

    Romans 8:18-39The Coming Glory
    18 For I consider the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility —not willingly but because of the One who subjected it —in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans together and suffers birth pains until now— 23 and not only creation, but even ourselves. We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Ruach [Spirit], groan inwardly as we eagerly wait for adoption—the redemption of our body.

    24 For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. 26 In the same way, the Ruach [Spirit] helps in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Ruach [Spirit] Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Ruach [Spirit], because He intercedes for the kedoshim ‘[saints] according to the will of God.

    28 Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.

    31 What then shall we say in view of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah, who died, and moreover was raised, and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

    “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
    we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”

    37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

    I am your brother in HiM. Ken

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Ken,
      I know you are in His purifying fire. Just as the sons of Levi were cleansed, so it is with us. You share a passage from Romans that I love the very first time I read it and I never get tired of hearing or reading it. Thanks for sharing this and it really relates to where we are in this season we are in. It is encouraging to me that we are not spiritually illegitimate and the working of the Father our lives proves it, for those whom He loves He rebukes and disciplines. Father never would let me settle for the prosperity and comforts of this world gospel that is preached throughout Christendom, filling mega-churches with those who desire milk and not meat.

      I am glad that we are on the same path, my brother,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Scarlett says:

    I can relate so much to this teaching, looking back on many painful lessons learned by suffering in various ways, ordeals and trials. While it’s never fun, ever….we can always breathe a sigh of relief when the trial is over. We learn from these experiences, if we are faithful and obedient, or…….we learn to be faithful and obedient!

    We both no doubt are much older than Jesus was when He suffered His passion, but we will never suffer as He did, no matter how old we are when we pass.
    Still, to encourage you brother, I have had many healings over my walk with the Lord, and yet somehow I slipped into a phase of living with increasing pain and then breathing problems and heart trouble. Finally a Word of the Lord came to me this last week that encouraged me to move into a higher realm of faith and believing for the impossible. Quite a stretch, considering I am still sitting here hurting like blue blazes. But when the Lord speaks, we are to take it as absolute truth to hold onto and that’s what I’m doing and going to do…whether the devil likes it or not. I think it’s to be a time of testing and not a permanent condition of suffering “chronic and disabling pain, etc”. He’s my Healer!

    Loved this yet another wonderful and profitable teaching in your post. I hope and pray many will be moved and encouraged by your words, not to give up or quit in these hard confusing times we live in. God is still God, and our trust and faith in Him is what He’s looking for and what will keep our heads above water. But yes, He never promised the “Bluebird of Happiness”. He did promise suffering……ending with an overcoming abundant life for the obedient.

    Thanks so much and be blessed with an abundance of grace and peace!
    Scarlett

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for sharing your life with us, Scarlett. I know in my case after much prayer and pleading He told me that He has given me this weak and painful back that I might not trust in my own strength any longer and go charging headlong into projects that are not His for me to be involved in. Because I am very capable in many trades I tend to get too involved with the things of this world and the work of my hands instead of letting my heart and time being filled with those things which are eternal. He teaches different people in different ways to fulfill His purposes. I know that suffering being used by God for HIS purposes is not a popular message in this culture we live in.

      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

      • Scarlett says:

        Oh my goodness! I can understand what your saying if it seems your prone to doing things like moving little greenhouses. I always say when I do something I know is going to have a painful result, “I’ll be paying for this tomorrow”.
        Anyway, I’m sorry your hurting. Praying it get’s better soon.
        Scarlett

        Like

      • Michael says:

        I tend to be a “Get ‘er done” kind of a guy and face tomorrow when it comes.
        Thanks for your prayers, Scarlett.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mike W says:

    “I’m not sure God wants us to be happy”, I have come to the same conclusion, not in this World. “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life”. 2 Co 5:4

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As you say, Michael, God’s goal for us is different from our own. Since His perspective is eternal, His aim is our sanctification. That is a long-term goal while temporal happiness is short-lived.

    Love in Christ,

    Anna ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Well said, Anna. What it comes down to is, are we willing to trade a few years of comfort and pleasure in this life for an eternity of falling short of all that the Father has for us in His Son?

      In His love for the saints,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog. I pray that your pain is of a very short duration. I pray, Father, that our pain and suffering will not be in vain, but will accomplish your purpose. I continue to be edified and fellowshipped when I read your blogs. Thank you for continuing to write them.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Michael, I am so sorry you have had to suffer so much, esp. during the last few years regarding your back pains and spasms. 🙁 The only thing I can add to this thread of comments is another Scripture that tells us why we have to suffer. I often saw that my heart is softer toward those who go through pains I have come to know, too. One might call it empathy through relatedness. Who could ever fully understand what he never experienced before? 🤔

    2 Corinthians 1:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
    Comfort in Suffering

    3 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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any [a]trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our [b]consolation also abounds through Christ.

    There is hope, my brother. 🙏🏼🕊👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, thank you for your heartfelt comment and all the ways you have stood by me in my suffering, especially with all your prayers. Yes, when two people experience the same suffering and pains and support one another this way, it is just one more way that our Father knits us together in Christ. Like Paul said, “That I may know Him… the fellowship of His sufferings.” It is wonderful to feel His consolation as well as His sufferings as we grow in His love.

      Yes, dear Sanne, there IS hope.

      So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Cor 13:13, RSV)

      Yours IN Christ,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Kenneth Dawson says:

    Yes Mike—-Into the lives of others—-If it takes suffering to get us there then it’s worth it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Ken, it seems that in God’s design, suffering is integral. It is meant to get us out of ourselves and make us instruments who can reach out to others with His love.

      Like

  10. Michael says:

    Susanne, when I read your comment, the Spirit brought this passage to mind:

    “We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.” (2Thess 1:3-4, RSV)

    I am blessed to be your brother and friend in this journey we share,
    Michael

    Like

  11. Michael siento mucho tus dolores de espalda, te entiendo porque yo he vivido lo mismo, he orado mucho por ti en estos días.

    Ayer visitaba una amiga y hermana en Cristo que está muy enferma de sus riñones, está sufriendo mucho, oramos juntas, lloramos juntas y sentimos el amor de nuestro Padre ayer en esta pequeña sala de su casa. El Señor nos hacía ver el propósito eterno que tiene con todo este sufrimiento y que vale la pena cada dosis de dolor, aunque no es fácil, pero todo este camino estrecho acabará con todo lo que somos en la vida de Adán, todas nuestras fuerzas serán exterminadas y cuando no haya nada más, encontraremos en el Señor nuestro Todo.

    Este fue el consuelo de Dios para nosotras el día de ayer:

    “Humillaos, pues, bajo la poderosa mano de dios, para que él os exalte cuando fuere tiempo; echando toda vuestra ansiedad sobre él, porque él tiene cuidado de vosotros. Sed sobrios, y velad; porque vuestro adversario el diablo, como león rugiente, anda alrededor buscando a quien devorar; al cual resistid firmes en la fe, sabiendo que los mismos padecimientos se van cumpliendo en vuestros hermanos en todo el mundo. Mas el Dios de toda gracia, que nos llamó a su gloria eterna en Jesucristo, después que hayáis padecido un poco de tiempo, él mismo os perfeccione, afirme, fortalezca y establezca” 1 Pedro 5: 6 – 10

    Cuando llegué a mi casa después de esta visita, me enteré de que otro hermano muy querido en el Señor está sufriendo, su esposa llamó para decirme que tiene dos tumores cancerígenos en su colon y su hígado está invadido de cáncer. Y este precioso hermano me dijo que si el Señor debía seguir tratando su vida, él estaba dispuesto a dejar que el Señor hiciera Su voluntad en él, así esto implicara este sufrimiento. Las palabras de este hombre me desafiaron una vez más.

    El Señor sea alabado y glorificado en todas nuestras circunstancias, por muy difíciles que sean para nuestra carne.

    Un abrazo mi hermano, seguiré orando por ti.

    Patricia wrote:
    Michael, I am very sorry for your back pains, I understand you because I have lived the same, I have prayed a lot for you these days.

    Yesterday I was visiting a friend and sister in Christ who is very sick of her kidneys, she is suffering a lot, we pray together, we cry together and we feel the love of our Father yesterday in this small room of his house. The Lord made us see the eternal purpose that he has with all this suffering and that it is worth every dose of pain, although it is not easy, but all this narrow path will end all that we are in the life of Adam, all our forces will be exterminated and when there is nothing else, we will find in the Lord our Everything.

    This was God’s comfort for us yesterday:

    “Humble yourselves, then, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you when it is time, casting all your anxiety upon him, for he cares for you, be sober, and watch, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion He goes around seeking whom he may devour, to whom he resists steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are fulfilled in your brothers throughout the world, but the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory in Jesus Christ, after that you have suffered a little time, he himself perfect you, affirm you, strengthen you and establish you “1 Peter 5: 6 – 10

    When I arrived at my house after this visit, I learned that another brother very dear to the Lord is suffering, his wife called to tell me that she has two cancerous tumors in her colon and her liver is invaded by cancer. And this precious brother told me that if the Lord should continue to treat his life, he was willing to let the Lord do His will in him, so this would imply this suffering. This man’s words challenged me one more time.

    May the Lord be praised and glorified in all our circumstances, however difficult they may be for our flesh.

    A hug my brother, I will continue to pray for you.

    Like

    • Michael says:

      Dear Patricia,
      Thank you for all your prayers. There seems to be no end to the amount of suffering in this world and you seem to be surrounded by it as well as you suffering from your own medical issues and bear the sufferings of others. When I hear of what other people suffer from, it makes my back problems seem minor. I was encouraged by the passage you shared from 1 Peter, especially this part:

      “…knowing that the same sufferings are fulfilled in your brothers throughout the world, but the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory in Jesus Christ, after that you have suffered a little time, he himself perfect you, affirm you, strengthen you and establish you. “

      As members of Christ’s body we know that we are not alone and that our sufferings and pains have a divine purpose,

      “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:16-17, ESV)

      Thank you for your edifying comment, dear sister,
      Michael

      Like

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