In a local church setting, almost everybody admits some kind of suffering is going on in their personal life. And majority of them put the blame and accuse the devil of inflicting pain, hardships, and stress in their life. But how much of that suffering do you think is self-induced?
The fact is, most believers make their own suffering but just don’t want to accept it.
The saddest part of this experience is that Christians attribute self-imposed suffering to the ways of God. You see, a fool always believes that everything he does is right. A fool does not accept and heed to corrections and rebukes from the word of God.
I have listed five of the many Biblical scenarios why a Christian falls into self-inflicted pain, hardship, stress and suffering (You can add more at your pleasure):
1. Running Away From God
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. (Jonah 1:1-3 NLT)
Every born again believer has been called and become a member of the Body of Christ. God has especial place for each in the Church. You may not be in a high profile assignment such as the preaching and the teaching of the Word, but that doesn’t mean your assignment is inferior. Nevertheless, you have an important work to do in His body and in His ministry.
Just like Jonah, many are called but not all had taken the assignment God had given them, instead they ran the opposite way, away from God. I don’t know why they’re running away from God. One thing I know for sure, if you run away from Him, you are missing His perfect will for your life. And what is the consequence of running away from your calling? Read the Book of Jonah to have a full view of the story.
The ship where Jonah boarded to escape from the Lord suffered in a great storm in deep sea almost costing their lives. The sailors threw him overboard and swallowed by a fish. While inside the fish, Jonah repented and decided to follow God’s assignment. The result was a great revival in the city because of one man who obeyed the Lord.
You see, God has a wonderful plan in your life, it is God’s perfect will for you, the best of life ever. But many Christians are living in the most severe pain and suffering because of their disobedience in serving the Lord. Of course God doesn’t want to see His children suffer, but what can He do if they deliberately refuse to serve Him.
2. Not Being Content
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God! As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died… Instantly she fell to the floor and died…” (Acts 5:5-10 NLT).
The story above was too graphic. One would think that this kind of incident only occur during the Old Testament times. Not so. Ananias and his wife died instantly because they lied to the Holy Spirit.
You see, God’s plan is not to kill these couple. But they did it to themselves. God is not a killer, but a life giver. The above verse says that they let Satan fill their hearts. Sometimes things in our life don’t make sense at all. However, if we our honest to our selves, and take responsibility to things we do; then God will forgive us and restore our fellowship with Him.
Greed is one of the many reasons of coveting material things that will lead to spiritual death. The flesh will never be satisfied by the offers of this world. The lust of this world had brought countless men and women of faith to their knees, and was succumbed into spiritual bankruptcy. You need to know where to draw the line of being content and greed. Paul gives us his secret of living satisfied in every situation he’s in.
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whatever it is with full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me the strength” (Philippians 4:11-13 NLT).
3. Not Discerning the Body of Christ
“So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died” (1 Corinthians 11: 27-30 NLT).
The message of this verse is honoring the body of Christ – the brethren. When we gather together and commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ, we have to examine ourselves. If there is forgiveness to give then give. And if there are mercies to offer, then offer. If there’s understanding and humility to bestow then do for the unity and building of the church.
Believers have their own issues and they’re not perfect. Some needed healings, acceptance and compassion. They come to church expecting forgiveness not condemnation. Discerning is to know how are the brethren doing, and how we can help them grow in the Lord. As we gather together as a church, we become a place of refuge, of refreshing, of prayer and celebration. We gain strength and edified as we commune in the presence of the Lord.
4. You Burn Yourself Out
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like eagle” (Proverbs 23:4-5 NLT).
One of the motivators to work hard is paycheck. And if you are one of those builders of great empires, then your stress level maybe higher than the normal. However, everything that we had built up for years can be wiped out in a single day. Just take a look at the world economy.
This is absolutely a self-inflicted pain and suffering. You are pushing yourself too hard because you haven’t got the right cash yet. But how much cash did you really want, or needed? If you’re experiencing burnout, then stop what you’re doing and get out of the pressure. Your spirit, soul and body are at stake here. You have to yield your spirit to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, because all things in this life shall be added to you.
Stress affects your relationship with others especially your loved ones. A stressed individual becomes agitated, restless, combative, and difficult to work with. When he comes home from work he wants to be alone, because his spirit, soul and body are stressed out.
Do not allow yourself to be entangled with money issues. Be wise and don’t believe in debt.
5. Sleeping with the Enemy
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NLT).
The most traumatic circumstance a family could ever experience is probably domestic violence – when a relationship breaks down and rolls over into violence. The apostle Paul has deep spiritual insight regarding husband and wife relationships. (I will discuss this issue some other time.)
In fact, most divorces and separations had already began prior to a couple’s getting married. It was a heartbreaking process of pain and suffering to both sides, and many were affected by it. And that was because a believing child of God had made a covenant with a child of the devil. This may sound harsh but it is the truth. A child of God has no business dealing with, and giving his/her life to an unbeliever to be husband or wife. However, many have blindly accepted it and allowed it to happen.
It is our responsibility to teach our children according to the word of God, His principles and His will. We cannot afford to be another statistics.
Paul’s advice is to remain in the Lord. No matter what the situation is, stay with Him; for the Lord is good, and His mercies endure forever.