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In part one of this study, we noted the fact that believers have been taught that the proper confession of faith, will bind all sickness, suffering, and lack, from their lives. Many brought into this doctrine, which is commonly known as the "name it, claim it" process of faith.
The outbreak of Covid-19, has raised many troubling questions for the believers. Many today are wondering just how they are to function, and go about day to day life. Others are at a loss to explain why a loving God allow such outbreaks to even occur. A major point of concern and controversy, has to do with pain and suffering, that comes along with sickness and disease.
For years those who have embraced the word of faith doctrine, have embraced teachings which stated that by faith the believer can bind all manner of pain sickness and suffering. Believers were assured by those who taught this doctrine that the right confession of faith would hinder all manner of sicknesses.
Thus many believers were led to believe that their whole fate is tied up in the words they spoke. This doctrine became so engrained in the minds of many believers, that a commonly quoted phrased was coined: When it came to items such as sickness, lack of finances, troubled relationships, etc, Believers were told "DON'T CLAIM IT." So the question is when it comes to sickness and suffering, are we to believe and decree, that we will not get infected and leave it there?
This doctrine raises many questions when it comes to the matter of faith and suffer. Below we list some of the most commonly asked questions. In this portion of our study, we will examine the matter of pain and suffering
1. Trials?— Is it true that many of the trials I endure, come about as a result of a lack of faith or a lack of understanding on my part? It is the will of God for me to speak to all of my trials and command them to depart? Or is it true that even when I walk by faith, God will still often allows trials to come upon me, for my good? Does God ever use my trials and tribulations as tools to develop me spiritually? Will God allow those who trust and obey Him to go through and endure suffering, especially if it's for a long duration??
2. Tribulations?— Once God saves me, should I expect to encounter tribulations, or is it a lack of faith to do so? Should I decree that no hurt or harm will come upon me? Is God best glorified by the tribulations I endure and keep the faith, or the tribulations I trust him and come out of?
3. Financial prosperity?— Once I am saved does this means that I should now expect to become wealthy? Is financial prosperity one of the benefits of salvation, for every believer? Should I now decree by faith, that I will have the best and biggest this world has to offer? Is it a lack of faith, if I’m content with an average income, car, and home. Does being saved and poor (having enough but not much over) dishonor God?
4. Carrying one’s cross?— Jesus said if I wanted to follow him, I would have take up my cross and follow him. I know during the time of Christ, the cross represented, pain, suffering , and death, is Jesus telling me to expect the same. If Jesus endured, pain, suffering, and death, on my behalf, is it true that his work on the cross exempts me from having to endure such hardship?
5. Sickness?— Because of Adam’s sin, sickness in all of it’s many forms, was part of the curse which was passed on to mankind. When Jesus died on the cross, he defeated Satan and redeemed the believers from the curse. I am told that I should say, “by his stripes I’m already healed.” Am I to walk in perfect health, and if I don’t does this dishonor God?
6. A proper confession of faith?– Am I to refuse to accept any manner of lack, suffering and trials. Am I supposed to speak to any and all trials and expect for them to go when I tell them to?
We noted the fact that many believers came to believe that their faith and obedience, would serve as an insurance (assurance) policy. In the sense that they would be exempted from much of life's’ pain and suffering.
Yet in spite of their expressions and confessions of faith, for many, their turmoil and strife remains. For many of the believers, they discovered that their faith did not protect them from the covid-19 pandemic, Many found that their faith did not stop the physical abuse on the part of their spouse.
Others came to realize that naming and claiming their child for Christ, did not stop their troubled child from continuing down the wrong path. Some claimed perfect health for themselves or a loved one, yet frail health still remains. Others who when they were younger named and claimed perfect health, now are finding in old age, they are susceptible to the ailments as everyone else.
Thus they are experiencing, hair loss, having to wear glasses due to bad eyesight, high blood pressure, arthritis, Alzheimer's etc. In the economic climate we are facing today, many are facing troubling times financially.
Some believers who gave themselves, their pocket book, and their faith completely over to the doctrine of health and prosperity are now expressing feelings of disillusionment. Did God fail their faith, Or did their faith fail God??
There is no denying the fact that pain and suffering as a part of everyday life for both the believers and the unbelievers alike. Through the ages, believers have sought to reconcile their understanding of the relationship, between their faith, and the pain and suffering in their lives and the lives of others.
Is God responsible for human suffering? Is God cruel, capricious, and vindictive, or is He too weak to prevent suffering? If God truly is sovereign, how can He let someone He loves suffer? As Dr. Tommy Mitchell acknowledges pain and suffering is a present day reality in our lives, of both the believers and the unbelievers. Many people of faith struggle to find answers that are adequate, when it comes to the pain and suffering department. “Each day brings new tragedy.
A small child is diagnosed with leukemia and undergoes extensive medical treatment only to die in his mother’s arms. A newlywed couple is killed by a drunk driver as they leave for their honeymoon. A faithful missionary family is attacked and killed by the very people they were ministering to. Thousands are killed in a terrorist attack. Hundreds drown in a tsunami, while scores of others are buried in an earthquake.
We as believers acknowledge the fact that God loves us, He knows us, walks with us, and answers prayer. But how can we reconcile these truths with our experience of personal suffering? What should we think about God? What should we think about ourselves? Why does God allow suffering? Why does God allow Christians to suffer? Or DOES He? Is suffering simply the result of personal sin, or a lack of true faith? Can our personal suffering be explained in such a way as to make it more bearable?
Pastor Jim Somerville notes that, “When we were children we were taught to pray: "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food," but when bad things happen to good people we begin to wonder: "If God is so great why doesn’t he do something? If God is so good why doesn't he seem to care?" Theologians call this "The Problem of Evil," and Frederick Buechner frames it in an unforgettable way.
He says: "God is all-powerful. God is all-good. Terrible things happen." He says we can reconcile any two of those propositions with each other but not all three. When terrible things happen we can either conclude that God is good but not very great, and therefore can't do anything to stop them, or that God is great but not very good, and therefore may, himself, be the cause of them. Or we can do what some people do and simply deny the existence of evil altogether.”
Many have asked the following questions. “If God is so ‘loving,’ why is there so much suffering in the world?” Or, “Why is life so unfair?” Or, “What have I done to deserve this?” Or, “How can God allow babies to be born deformed?” Or, “Why doesn’t God do something about all the misery of humanity?” (Of course, some people say He is doing something – He’s adding to it!).
There are many different answer given, some of these answer may be applicable in certain cases, but there is not a blanket answer for each individual case.
There are many explinations given as to why there is pain and suffering: For example, "The bad things happening to you must be because you’re a bad person or because you have sinned, and God is punishing you.” Or, “This sickness is God testing your faith.” Or, “God allowed that tragedy to humble you and strengthen your faith.” Or, “This terrible situation is how God is breaking your pride.” There are some who take offense at these and similar answers.
When life hurts, some believers become angry with God and feel that they must chart their own course. When Christ told the parable of the sower, he eluded to the fact that many who embrace the faith, do so until hardship and suffering comes their way. Christ told of those who initially received the gospel with joy. But Christ said that these were they whom He called the “stony places,"
According to Christ, the stony place, is the heart which joyfully accepts the word for a season, but as trials, pain and suffering comes, they soon departy from God. "20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." Matt 13:20-21.
We are told that in the last days, that many will cast away their faith and give up, Paul called it the great falling away. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come #1. a falling away first, . 2nd Thess 2:3. We see an example of this type of shift away from God, during World War II. It is said that many people in Europe looked at the suffering, death, and total destruction of the war, and blamed God. They saw that war was vicious and cruel, and that they could not come up with an answer as to why it was being allowed to happen.
The kinds of answers that kept rising to the surface was: God either does not care about what is happening on the earth; Or He is too weak of a God to do anything about it; Or possibly He does not exist at all! It is said that many in Europe lost their faith, THEY VIEWED IT A VAIN EFFORT TO TRUST AND OBEY GOD. As a result, they began to turn their churches into restaurants, museums and night clubs.
The truth of the matter is, many of the healthiest and wealthiest people in the world are non believers. In Psalm 73 we find that even the Psalmist struggled with this matter. It perplexed him so much (why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper) that he tells us, he almost backslide, 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:2-3.
“For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds knows no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, ‘How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?’ This is what the wicked are like – always carefree, they increase in wealth” (Psalm 73:3-12).”
In order to understand the pain and suffering we now encounter, we will need to go back to our beginning. God decided that Adam was not going to be a puppet, so God cut the stings, which would have limited man’s choices and desires, to instinct. By an act of his own will, God decided to give us our own free will. To insure that we would govern ourselves in a morally intelligent manner, he gave us this gift of self awareness, wrapped in intelligence, which would be governed by a conscience.
When God created Adam and Eve, He created them to be creatures of choice. God allowed them to be at liberty to pursue whatever they desired, via their intellect, right to choose, and conscience. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen 2:16-17.
When God created us, He also did not make him a robots, By divine design Adam was not created as all the other creatures who functioned by animalistic instincts. To show how unique Adam and Eve were , it was to them alone that God said the following. “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen 2:16-17.
Only Adam and Eve could comprehend and respond to these guidelines. Which in essence was saying, 1. You are free to choose, 2. You can eat of all trees but one. 3. If you eat of that tree, 4. You will die.
There is no denying the fact that Eden was a beautiful place, and bountiful place. This was a place where by divine decree pain and sufferiung as we now know it, was not present. God explained to Adam that as long as he remained obedient, that things would continue as theye were. As we now Adam and Eve disobeyed God, which in turn changes everything.
When Adam transgressed mankind incurred a great loss, it is imperative that you be able to grasp just exactly what this loss entailed. It’s obvious that because of his disobedience, Adam lost access to perfect health and provisions. But the greatest lost was not in the realm of physical possessions, or position. The greatest thing Adam lost the one on one personal relationship with God, and access to eternal life. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Rom 5:12.
Pastor -Jason R. McConnell explains, “From that time on, humanity has been cursed with toil and pain, conflict and blame, and disease and death. Indeed, paradise was lost! This is the cursed world that we continue to live in today. Our bodies are worn out from getting up and going to work and school every day.
We feel the pain of injuries and illnesses and face the constant fear of cancer and heart disease. We see ourselves getting older every time we look in the mirror and are regularly reminded that death is coming. We bear the burden of broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, and shattered dreams. We carry the cross torn families, tattered friendships, and tormented societies.
Because of the entrance of sin, death pain and suffering also gained entrance. We now live in a corrupt environment. Thus death, pain, sickness, and emotional distress is engrained into the fabric of everyday life. Even though Christ came and redeemed us fron the curse of sin and death, we have not yet been taken out of this corrupted environment. Paul tells uys that we as believers, groan in anticipation, of the coming day of total deliverance. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Rom 8:22-23.
In regards to the present state of things, Paul develops two major themes. 1. The present corruption of nature is a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve, 2. The blessed hope that eschatological redemption of the creature will free us from corruption and transform it to freedom and glory.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matt 28:8. While it’s true Christ has all power, we don’t yet fully see this power being exercised over the forces, of pain, suffering and death. As Paul explians. "8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him." Heb 2:8. Someday, Jesus will use force to put down all remnants of evil. Right now, he does not.
Right now, we as Christians live as aliens in a tainted and sinful world. We know by faith that a better world is coming. We know by faith that a better way of life is possible — but we also see in Jesus the perplexing message that this better way is achieved only through a time of evil and pain. Thus "We see NOT YET all things put under him.”
We cannot understand it, but we trust God to work it out because we see that he was willing to bear the pain himself. He was willing to suffer from evil, too. But there was joy set before Jesus, and there is joy set before us, too. If we suffer with him, we will also reign with him. If we are with him in his humiliation, we will also be with him in his glory.
We do not yet see all things put under the reign of Christ. Now, we see suffering and death. But through the resurrection of Christ, we can see that death itself has been conquered. All things will be brought into subjection to Jesus Christ, the Lord of compassion and mercy. Even as we grieve for the evils of today's world, we can rejoice in our hope in Jesus Christ. We still grieve — we should grieve at evil — but we grieve with hope and faith in Jesus Christ.”
Even though all things are under the authority of Christ, the manifestation of his total rulership is not yet made manifest. Thus we still have suffering and death, even among the believers. Paul tells us the day is coming, when the authority of Christ will be fully revealed, and the last enemy, DEATH will be destroyed
24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 1st Cor 15:24-26
The presence of sickness and suffering does not mean that God is not all powerful or unloving. It simply shows that we are a part of a fallen and corrupt systems, wherein there is death and decay. Paul tells us, that all of creation groans for the time when God will restore all things to a perfect state, this is the coming day that the Bible tells us is on the way.
18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Rom 8:18-23.
The early believers were people of great faith, they knew how to trust God both in the fact of sickness and suffering, and in the absence of sickness and suffering. They like us today prayed for deliverance from sickness and suffering, and rejoiced when God granted their petition. But when for the divine purposes of God, their request was denied, as was the case, concerning Paul’s thorn in the flesh, they knew how to continue in the faith, in spite of the trial.
The great error today on the part of many who seek the "Name it claim it prosperity now" gospel, is the fact that they mislead believers in to thinking, that their faith can crete a heaven on earth. In the truth the Bible tells us that we as believers will encounter pain and suffering this this present world. But it also tells us that the best is yet to come. As Paul tells us, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. "– Romans 8:18. No matter what we go though in this life, it pales in comparison to what God has in store for us.
This world and this life is not our final destination. The best is yet to come! God knows what you are going through and He cares. He just needs you to trust Him and have faith that in His perfect timing He will deliver. If not in this life, then in the life to come.
What you are currently going through is not only designed and crafted by God to make you stronger but it’s to encourage others that will be blessed through your testimony. That’s why it’s vital not to give up or to give in but to give God the glory.” (compare our final destination).
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Rev 21:1-7
One has only to look about around to see the havoc sin had played in the life. There is no lasting happiness here. Sooner or later our hearts are made to bleed. The wise man of the Bible was right when he said, "Vanity, Vanity, life at its best is altogether vanity and vexation of spirit." Again, "Man's days are short and full of trouble." Over against this dark picture of this life we have the promise from the Psalms, "Weeping may endure for a season but joy cometh on tomorrow.” Psalm 30:5.
We are told to comfort each other with the promise that Christ will return and gather us to Himself. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1st Thess 4:16-18.
In order to do so we need a combination of faith and a right understanding of the promises, power, and love of God. Everywhere he went the apostle Paul reminded the believers that their entrance into the kingdom would be preceded by times of hardship. 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22.
The highway of this life is marked with heartaches. Not many miles do we travel unless we experience some adversity, some sorrow, some pain. What a consolation to KNOW all of this will pass away. In Heaven, there will be, no pandemics, no hospitals, no orphan homes, no wars, no broken homes, no depression, no weeping parents because of wayward children, no drunken fathers and mothers, no funeral songs, no sickness, no poverty.
Nothing that has marred this life will be found in Heaven. As we know many of the believers in the early church endured much pain and suffering, because of their faith. Yet even as they were being killed, they had a hope that reached on the other side of the grave. Even the trials of life They endured for Christ sake, were not reasons enough to give up on this blessed hope, As Paul said, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.“ 2ndCor 4;17.
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