I was talking with a family member the other day about suffering. Not a popular topic, to be sure. We were talking about suffering with sickness and disease, and there was a reference made to suffering for the Lord in infirmity. I was profoundly knocked off balance and saddened that anyone might believe that God desired they suffer such agony, but then I got to thinking. Slow down Carol, analyze this. It’s a logical conclusion if someone doesn’t know God’s Word on the subject. The devil is a liar and seeks to trip us up anywhere he can. His lies sound like they make sense. If that kind of supposition is pervasive, then I better get educated. If the devil can persuade someone that we suffer for Christ in many ways, sickness included, then he succeeds in one more step in his quest to destroy them. Not on my watch! We will build each other up in our most holy faith!
Three words came to mind as I poured over scripture; suffer, trouble and tribulation. Trouble and tribulation are almost interchangeable, finding their root in the Greek word thlipsis which means pressure, affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble. I started from John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” NKJV. The same word is seen repeatedly in the new testament indicating squeezing, pressurized distress that crushes. The word suffer in the Greek is pascho, which is a verb meaning to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful), to feel, passion, vex. It is combined in this text with the word sun, a Greek word denoting union with, i.e., by association, very closely with, a process, a resemblance, possession, meaning beside or with. Together and in the context of John 16:33, Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, 9:12, and Romans 8:17, (there are many more, but I don’t want to get you lost in scripture yet!) the meaning is clearly to suffer the same way Christ suffered, to identify with, to be persecuted as He was, to endure pressure, anguish, tribulation, be crushed and beaten as He was. To go through the process of persecution in the same manner as Jesus did. It makes sense, people still revile Jesus and religion and are quick to attack a believer for things they do not understand. Go back and look again, Jesus said in Me you may have peace. If we suffer, we do so in His peace, without animosity, bitterness or worry for self-preservation.
Absolutely nowhere in the scripture is there a reference to sickness and disease in conjunction with suffering for God. I find no reference to any of the disciples suffering pain and disease. Pain and suffering sickness is not included. The reason for that is simple. Jesus was persecuted and as he was nailed to the cross, he took upon himself the sickness, disease, poverty, demonic affliction, and every other thing that would torment and distract us from life in God. Jesus bore those things so we might be free. Because of the blood of Jesus, sickness is not ours to suffer because His blood covered it. I Peter 2:24, “who himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. He wants us to live for righteousness, right standing with God, unencumbered, abundantly. I Peter 4:12-19 talks about suffering for God’s glory. It speaks of suffering the same insults, persecutions, revilement and reproach that Jesus did, all because we are His. Verse 19 says, “therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” Is it God’s will that you suffer sickness? No, it very clearly says, according to His will. His will is His word, the word does not speak of suffering illness because it is finished on the cross. We have authority in the name of Jesus to cast that out. Sickness and pain serves no kingdom purpose, does not glorify God. Being healed glorifies God. Going through things in the strength and power and equipping of Jesus, glorifies Him. Taking hold of what He did for us on the cross, glorifies Him. Putting on the whole armor of God, glorifies Him.
Wow, I love revelation. So, if the devil can get us to believe we glorify God when we suffer pain in our bodies because of sickness, he can get us to accept it and speak life into that pain. He can get us to just live with it, do nothing about it and die sooner than is God’s plan. It will stop our effectiveness, it will stop us from doing what we are called to do, it will steal our joy and render us miserable. Speak truth and life, speak the Word of God over yourself, refuse to believe anything that is not the will and Word of God. Know the scripture, it is life and health, joy and freedom. Phil 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.” Look for the goodness of God and think on those things. Forget not His benefits and remind yourself what He has done for you. Train your mind to look for God’s way first. Blessings.