Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is it God's Will that I Suffer?

So many popular preachers are spreading the false doctrine that it is God's will that you be healthy and rich, so those are the things you should be seeking after. Aka: "Health & Wealth" or "Name it and claim it!"  No wonder they are popular -- they are just tickling peoples' ears, telling them what they want to hear. But this doctrine they preach doesn't hold water in the Word of God.

I just got some important scan results yesterday, and today I am praising the Lord that they came out good!  I know God is before me, behind me, and walking along beside me, and He is graciously answering my prayers and those of the many folks who are praying for me (thank you all!).  But if the scan results hadn't been good, would that mean God didn't hear or answer our prayers? Or that He doesn't care about me?  I talked about that in an earlier blog -- sometimes His answer is "No" or "Not right now" or even "I have something different in mind."

I can't help feeling like I've dodged a bullet this time.  I am greatly relieved, but I also know I'll be facing a different scan later this month and may not get such favorable results.  With stage 4 cancer, I know the rest of my life will be a series of various scans followed by the anxious wait for the results.  Sometimes good, sometimes not so good.  I almost feel guilty asking for folks to pray for me each time and taking them along on this roller coaster ride over and over.

I recently heard of another person I've been praying for who didn't have such favorable results.  Why were my results good and his were not?  Why does God allow the bad results?  Is it His will that we suffer?  Did I do something wrong? (I covered that last question in my blog titled "The Blame Game" in March -- check it out.)

God has recently been speaking to my heart about His children who suffered, specifically Paul, Peter, and the early saints told about in the book of Acts, as well as the earlier story of Job.  I LOVE the book of Acts -- it reads like an action movie and keeps me coming back to find out what happens next to the early believers!

In Acts 24 Paul was sharing the gospel with the Jews in Jerusalem and he was arrested and imprisoned. There he continued to share his faith in Jesus with government officials he otherwise would never have had the opportunity to meet. Paul faced many hardships including being stoned and shipwrecked.  At any one of these points I would have reevaluated my decision to continue. He also suffered from some unknown "thorn in the flesh" but he pushed on. I might have said, surely this isn't God's will for my life -- this is miserable!

We assume that our destiny is comfort, but sometimes God has missions for us that don't include comfort.  Our constant pursuit of our own comfort isn't always God's mission for us. When I thought of a plan for my life, what it would be like, I didn't plan on cancer. Wouldn't have been my first choice! But what I want may not be God's will for my life. Do you think Paul would have chosen imprisonment and all the hardships he faced? What about Job?  Would you choose a life plan that includes losing all your family, your livelihood, and all you own? Think of how many people over thousands of years have been blessed and encouraged by the story of Job's faithfulness in spite of incredible adversity.

Sometimes God has missions for us that don't include comfort.

That's a pretty big pill to swallow.  I'm okay with that -- are you? I'm not in heaven yet -- this is earth and we can expect to have some suffering while we're here. We can't expect everything to be perfect when we're living in a fallen world. But I know that He is always with me, through the Holy Spirit we can find contentment in any situation -- whether with plenty, or with nothing. And I know that all things work together for our good and for His glory!

"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

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13

"And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
 Learn more about Paul here:

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