The Needless Suffering of the Church

The title of this article is a misnomer to be sure, because it will probably lead some to think that I believe that people who are Christians ought not to suffer. Far from it. Christ suffered, and we are called to be just like Him. And to quote a Bible passage (in context), “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Matthew 10:24). If Christ went through persecution and suffering, then we will have to go through it, too. This article, therefore, is not about righteous suffering, but rather the NEEDLESS suffering that people, both inside and outside the church, experience, on a regular basis. This suffering has a root cause, and the root cause is a lack of faith. Because of this, people suffer needlessly. They are weakened, and cannot invoke, or bring about, God’s blessings. Because of this (for example), many who are sick and who WOULD be healed, are NOT healed, because faith is almost always a prerequisite for seeing God’s power displayed.

Speaking of Nazareth, the Bible says that Jesus “did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). These people refused to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Their “stumbling block”, if you will, was that they saw Jesus grow up. They were stumbled by the belief that “certainly this could not be a prophet if He grew up among us”. Hence, they said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:55-56b) IN OTHER WORDS, “THIS IS JUST A REGULAR GUY!” Not only did these people suffer from a lack of faith, they ALSO suffered from a lack of reasoning, and a lack of Biblical knowledge. For it they had TRULY known their Bible, they would have known that God uses REGULAR PEOPLE like me and you to do His will! He always has, and He always will! And so we read, “And they took offense at Him” (Matthew 13:57). This unraveling of their faith was their own undoing. It prevented them from being healed. Oh, how they suffered NEEDLESSLY!

These people, of course, were not the ONLY ones who suffered needlessly. The entire nation of Israel suffered needlessly because, at a national level (not individual), she refused to believe in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. That is why we read, in Luke 19, Jesus’s sobering words regarding Jerusalem, prior to her destruction in 70 AD. For we read, ‘When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”‘ (Luke 19:41-44) Did you GET THAT in terms of the REASON why Jerusalem would be leveled to the ground? Jesus stated the reason as being a lack of faith! “BECAUSE YOU DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE TIME OF YOUR VISITATION” (Luke 19:44b).

You may consider yourself to be a believer. But is there any area at all in your life that you are right now suffering needlessly in, because of a lack of faith? In what areas have you rejected God and turned Him “off”? What are some things that you are doing right now that are displeasing to Him, and that are hindering you in your walk of faith with God? There is a big lie out there that it is better to serve yourself than it is to serve God. That is a big lie, indeed, and only leads to needless suffering! In the pages of the Bible, we read that Jesus is the GOOD SHEPHERD, who has laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11)! He desires to BLESS YOU RICHLY, and lavish upon you great mercies, every single day of your life! For His mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). “Do not be afraid, little flock,”, Jesus said, “for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) These passages and more clearly demonstrate the GOODNESS and the KINDNESS of God, and His steadfast intention towards those who believe. So why ruin it by not doing all you can to exercise a true, living, and vibrant faith in Him?

So today, consider yourself to be a true servant of the Lord. Rid yourself of the old ways of doubt, fear, and sin. Clothe yourself with Christ, and determine once and for all to be His living disciple, willing to do absolutely anything that He calls you to do. But be warned! You will NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN! Blessings will start flowing your way like a river! And the only one who will be able to hold that river back will be yourself, determined by the faith that you either decide, or decide not, to have in Him.