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Devotions > Surrender to Suffering

12 Mar 2013


Is it possible to be drawn into a place of significant suffering by our propensity to avidly avoid pain?  We seem to live in a world where it is customary to passionately evade pain at any cost.  In fact we not only ardently attempt to circumvent pain but we often tend to seek after comfort as if it were some kind of a god.

We are born with a natural aversion to pain.   As newborns we naturally cry when we are in pain; and we soon learn to cry when we are slightly uncomfortable.   As we mature and become more sophisticated we gradually discover other strategies by which to attempt to minimize pain and avoid discomfort.

While this entire pain avoidance process seems on the surface to be very normal and in fact good, yet there is a concealed catch.   Like many things considered good, too much of a good thing can be very bad.    Since we have taken pain avoidance in our day to a virtual art form, it may be that we have often crossed the line beyond good and have begun to move unswervingly in the opposite direction.

The nature of the negativity of pain avoidance is usually circumstantial and often imagined.   That is to say that the driving force of the avoidance is usually not the pain or discomfort itself, but rather the fear of the related suffering.   

Peter had a particularly precise perspective on this subject which he plainly expressed in the passage below.

1 Peter 4:1-7 (AMP)
1 SO, SINCE Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],
2 So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills.
3 For the time that is past already suffices for doing what the Gentiles like to do—living [as you have done] in shameless, insolent wantonness, in lustful desires, drunkenness, reveling, drinking bouts and abominable, lawless idolatries.
4 They are astonished and think it very queer that you do not now run hand in hand with them in the same excesses of dissipation, and they abuse [you].
5 But they will have to give an account to Him Who is ready to judge and pass sentence on the living and the dead.
6 For this is why the good news (the Gospel) was preached [in their lifetime] even to the dead, that though judged in fleshly bodies as men are, they might live in the spirit as God does.
7 But the end and culmination of all things has now come near; keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for [the practice of] prayer.

Peter seems to be saying that if we are to be completely prepared for the practice of prayer, we must be willing and ready to suffer rather than to fail to please God.     Peter clearly lays out his cast iron conclusion that to be willing to suffer is to arm ourselves against ourselves, our appetites and desires.    It is of course these appetites and desires that the enemy of our souls so cleverly uses against us when we fear anything except God.

1 Peter 3:8-12 (AMP)
8 Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).
9 Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].
10 For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).
11 Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]
12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil [to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them].

Is your heart willing to suffer anything rather than fail to please God?    Or is there a limit to which you are willing to suffer?   Is pleasing God your first priority such that nothing will ever rise above obeying and serving Him?  Are you committed to actively disciplining your mind to be ready and willing to suffer anything in order to bring glory to our Lord?    This is no doubt the place God is calling us in order to prepare us to persistently and profitably pray for the revival of our land.

Jeff Williams