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 (Manna 28)
A Will to Suffer
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A Will To Suffer

Translated and Adapted from Holy Spirit Monthly, February 1995

Many regard religion as a form of escapism from the harsh realities of life, providing nothing more than a mental crutch. But this is far from true. The end of true religion is utmost glory and an eternal homecoming.

As God’s elect, our lives are enriched and we share His glory. However, in following the Lord, children of God will inevitably suffer, for “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Since the Lord Jesus suffered to save humanity, we, too, must equip ourselves with a readiness to suffer, “...since therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for who ever 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”(l Pet 4:1-2).

One might ask, “Why does God allow His children to suffer?” But once we understand the cause of suffering, we shall conclude, “It is good for me that I was afflicted” (Ps 119:71).


God’s chastisement

God desires His children to be holy and manifest His glory. Man, however, fails to perceive God’s desire and often falls into sin. Rebelling against God, we corrupt ourselves. The infinitely loving God does not wish His children to continue in decadence. So He chastises, like parents do their wayward children, in order that they may turn away from wrong.

This is one reason why God allows us to meet with adversities — that we may turn from our erroneous ways. It is therefore important we examine our actions when our lives are fraught with problems and we are suffering. Remember these words: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor lose courage when you are punished by Him. For the Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives” (Heb 12:5-6).

Satan’s attack

The spiritual growth of God’s children is Satan’s greatest source of displeasure because our blessedness underscores his failure. Thus, he raises his hands against us, and we suffer if we give way to him. He stirs up trouble, causing misunder­standing, fanning anger and even threatening our very lives. He pushes us to the brink of death and causes us to lose all we have. His objective is to make our lives so miserable that we leave God. From the sufferings of Job, we see how Satan can afflict a child of God. But it is only with the permission of God. If we remain on God’s side, we shall ultimately see the blessings of God —the fruits of our suffering.

God’s training

Suffering trains us to rely on God’s strength. It is only when we feel weak that we will turn to God, and learn to lean on Him. Thus, it is in our weakness that we can manifest God’s power and grace (2 Cor 12:7-10). God wants us to serve Him effectively, and He trains us through suffering so that we are purified from the ignoble, becoming a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful in His house. He also wants us to know Him even better, to experience Him and to be spiritually mature. To achieve this, He needs to put us into the “furnace” to refine us. Prov 17:3 says, “The crucible (refining pot) is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tries hearts.” Joseph’s slavery and the injustice he suffered in Egypt were all part of God’s will. Later, he rose to become a man of high position in Egypt. Truly, his past sufferings had been transformed into future glory.

Irrespective of the type of suffering we undergo, if it is from the Lord or if the Lord allows it, then it is part of His wonderful plan. We pray that God will enlighten us so that in the midst of sufferings, we can still say with conviction, “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). The Lord has promised that if we suffer together with Him, we shall also receive glory with Him. Through our suffering, God makes us acceptable for His kingdom.


Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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” (2 Cor 1:3-4).

The tears, pleadings and prayers we offer in our afflictions help us learn to obey God’s commands and be submissive. Our tears also soften our nature, making us more gentle towards others and drawing us closer to God. We become more sensitive to God’s guidance, motivated by His love. These changes will be reflected in our social interactions. We are more concerned about others and willing to comfort those in need.

Ps 133:1 proclaims: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Unity amongst brethren is pleasing in God’s eyes. Many children of God cannot live in harmony because they cannot love each other deeply; the rapport that should exist amongst brethren is absent. But if we have experienced personal sufferings, and through these have received not only comfort from God but also from our brethren, we will realize the significance of being brothers and sisters-in-Christ; we will strive to establish the family spirit of love within the community of faith. We will instinctively protect others from suffering. Once we learn to love one another, our spiritual lives will grow and we can build up the family of God. Even when misunderstandings arise, we can sincerely forgive one another.

Suffering therefore teaches us to sympathize with others. From our own experience, we learn to have compassion for the pain or difficulty others are experiencing and through this, become a more magnanimous person.


Therefore, the sooner we are prepared to accept suffering, the better. It helps to rid us of evil and leads us to heaven. It brings glory to God and helps others and ourselves to grow spiritually. Though we suffer now for a little while, it will result in tremendous future glory.



The Lord Jesus left us a good Example in the matter of suffering: “For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Heb 2:10). In other words, His perfection was revealed through suffering. If we seek to be perfect, we too should undergo the purging fire of suffering. Ordinary people are prone to love and enjoyment but adverse to suffering. Yet, a person who has triumphantly passed through “the valley of the shadow of death” becomes a better, stronger person -- mentally and spiritually. As he has received the Lord’s strength in the dark moments of his life, he becomes more appreciative of the Lord’s love for him. Looking back, he understands suffering as God’s way of re-shaping him to become more pleasing in His sight, to come a step closer to perfection. Therefore, when we are suffering, we ought to pray: “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24).

Beholding God’s glory

When we accept our suffering with determination, it is actually the beginning of God’s blessing and we will surely see God’s glory. When we are joyful despite suffering, we can experience peace within us.

Once, the husband of a sister-in-Christ had a serious accident. The doctor told her that her husband would not survive. She prayed because she could not understand why God let His children suffer. Then, in one of her prayers, God’s words entered her heart, “Wonderful story, Jesus is mine, praising my Saviour with songs of joy; how great is His love, witness this grace, thank my Redeemer, Jesus is mine.” Immediately, she felt a great sense of relief. She then understood — “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Our Lord is the merciful God: “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you in His love, He will exult over you with shouts of joy” (Zeph 3:17). When we learn to be thankful and praise Him, He will ensure that we pass our tests; when it is time, He will change the situation. As for that sister, her husband miraculously survived.


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