“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
I recently polled you all, my audience, asking for your feedback on what you would like to have me write about. Although not in direct response to my request, a friend from my college days posted on Facebook that she would love for someone to write about why we as Christians seem to believe that we should have a life void of pain and trial. I took that as my cue, and here we are.
There is an increasingly popular lie being spewed at the body of Christ today, and it’s called the Prosperity Gospel. In short, it teaches followers of Christ to believe that God’s blessings will most often, if not always include health, wealth, and happiness, and if you’re not experiencing these things in your life, you must be doing something wrong. For any of us who are well-versed in Scripture, and even those of us who are relatively acquainted with it, this sentiment should resonate within us as false teaching. God’s Word consistently teaches throughout that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to expect hardship just as Christ endured, and we are taught that it is through pain, difficulty, and the fires of this life that we are purified, strengthened, and made to be more like Christ.
The Apostle Paul adequately sums this up in the above verses from 2 Corinthians. It is through suffering in Christ that Christ is revealed in and through our lives. And although our suffering might press us, we are not ultimately crushed by it, at least we don’t need to be. And although our suffering might perplex us, we need not despair. And even if we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, we are never abandoned in our suffering for Christ. And even though we might be struck down in our suffering, destruction is never the final outcome. Of this I am sure.
I am asking you to receive this truth in faith today. Your circumstances may not change tomorrow in response to your decision of faith today, but your heart will. Our God delights in our faith, and He increases our faith as we trust in Him. I know that every time we choose to trust God with our pain will always lead us down the road of deeper intimacy with Him. I believe with all my heart that seasons of adversity not only happen to all people but rather are appointed to each of God’s children, because they have the ability to produce perseverance in us like nothing else can. As we intentionally choose each day to whom or what we will bow down to, whether it be our circumstance or our Lord, something happens in our hearts and in our souls. Every time we choose to bow down to our Creator, faith increases. Even though our circumstance might not change, and remember it’s never promised that it will, our resolve is changed to worship the Lord when He gives, and even when He takes away. It’s the heart that chooses to say, “Lord, blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering; though there is pain in the offering.”
God promises blessing to follow our obediences to Him, make no mistake about that. The form those blessing come in are entirely up to Him and His goodness. They might come as healing from sickness, but they may not. Either way, He remains good. They might come in the form of financial freedom, but they may not. Either way, He remains good. God’s Word is not a self-help guide to a life free of pain and trouble. His Word is truth that sets us free from the lies that our enemy desperately wants us to believe. Lies that enslave us. Lies that embitter us. Lies that betray us. Don’t believe the lies. Embrace the truth.