Why Am I Suffering?
Do you ever find yourself in a situation that you are suffering in and question God's love for you? Sometimes we suffer because we are being tested and developed, but sometimes we suffer because the enemy is trying to destroy us. How do we know the difference?
I believe there is a key factor in the discrimination of these two types of suffering.
The Bible states in James 1:2 :" Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
In Romans 5:3: "Moreover let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
Let's look closer at endurance, steadfastness and patience.
Endurance means you have a capacity to last or withstand a difficult process or situation without giving way.
Steadfastness means undeviating consistency or resolution.
Patience means you have the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
All three indicate a good outcome, a positive, strong character being developed as a result and hope being established.
But if your situation is continually causing you to break down emotionally, physically, spiritually or psychologically rather than creating joyful, confident hope, its not of God.
If your situation is producing pain in you which is producing pain in others, it is not of God.
It is the thief that comes to kill, steal and destroy, not God. Jesus came to bring us abundant life!(John 10:10)
Jesus wants to release the captives! (Luke 4:15)
Many people confuse the scriptures on character development and believe that they are to stay in situations that are killing them in order to honor God.
But how is it honoring to God if our bodies, minds and spirits are crushed with sorrow, pain and hopelessness?
I do not disagree that learning to endure trials produces strength and character but if the trial you are in produces fear, depression and sickness, choosing to continue to endure it, will ultimately bring death to your body, mind and spirit. Often times we stay in jobs, relationships or other situations that are hurting us way longer then we should because we think its the noble thing to do but in reality are spirits are sinking fast.
Discernment is necessary to determine if your situation is one in which your faith is being tested or if the enemy is seeking to destroy you.
Ask yourself the following questions:
*Is your situation able to be changed, if so, whats stopping you?
*Do you have the ability to make the changes necessary to affect your situation, if not, can you develop it?
*Have you sought wisdom from God and counsel from others regarding your situation and followed it?
*Are you taking personal responsibility for your situation or are you waiting to be rescued?
*Do you find yourself doubting God and yourself more and more?
*Is your self-worth or self concept getting worse?
*Is your situation making you feel more confused and unsure of yourself?
*Is trust in God decreasing and anger, resentment, anxiety and fear steadily increasing?
The first 4 questions are usually related to God attempting to grow your character but the if you answered yes to the last 4 questions, and fear, confusion, anger, depression and anxiety are the results of your situation, and you find yourself spiraling further and further out of control unable to manage your life, it is not God testing you, its the enemy trying to destroy you.
"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity).
And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]".(James 3:17-18)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.(1st Peter 5:10).
We can see through these scriptures that there is a restoration and growth of some sort that happens if we are being tested, but it is the enemy if we are getting worse and are continuing to be destroyed and weakened.
Ultimately God works all things together for our good, but it is also true that we allow the enemy way too much power in our lives and need to learn how to not suffer in vain, develop discernment and how to defend ourselves from the enemy so as to not tolerate unnecessary suffering if we have the power to change it.
Life is difficult enough but throughout the Bible there are scripture after scripture of God's desire to heal, deliver and restore us.
"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome."(Jeremiah 29:11-14)
"And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten—the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust, My great army which I sent among you."(Joel 2:25)
Do not tolerate the enemy, do not play his game by blaming God for your suffering. God wants to help us, He wants to restore us and give us life. The enemy is continually lying to us about God's goodness, trying to pull us away from God in any way possible. It is up to us to realize the difference, to develop discernment and wisdom and to learn that the enemy is under our feet. Ask yourself, if I believed God loved me and wanted the best possible outcome for me in this (whatever your situation is) how would I see it differently, what would I do differently? Seek His face, get counsel, avoid blame. He will lead you out of harms way.