This is Part 2 of 7 parts answering the question, “Can a believer be victorious while God allows suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-7 will be posted on succeeding days.
What Is Victory In Suffering?
From the human perspective, there is no hope! Man is condemned in sin, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJ) Additionally, as stated above, man is separated from God as a result of sin, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23 NKJ) Man is helpless to save himself, because he will always fall short of God’s glory. He is hopeless, because he is separated from God. He is in a helpless and hopeless situation! Where is the victory in that?
There is victory for the believer in Jesus Christ, because he will be released from the bondage of the sin of this world. The Lord Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, and Paul wrote about our bodily transformation and the victory for those in Him,
54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:54-57 NKJ)
When God provides the resurrection body to His saints, death will no longer have a grip and is swallowed up in God’s victory.
We see the victory of death every time a loved one dies. We are separated from that loved one and are not rejoined until we see them in heaven. That is when we experience the victory, although we can academically and by faith trust in the victory even now! Through whom did the victory come? It came through the Lord Jesus Christ who completed His work on the cross. Resurrection life is the ultimate victory. Yet, there can be temporal victory through overcoming in time, even in suffering.
When the apostle John recorded the words of our Lord to the seven churches, he encouraged the church of Smyrna, who suffered greatly,
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, `These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”‘ (Rev. 2:8-11 NKJ)
The Lord promises victory for believers who overcome suffering here on earth. Smyrna’s suffering wasn’t easy, for it included tribulation, poverty, prison and death. However, their faithfulness to the Lord would preserve them from the second death and also enable them to triumph while here on earth! So there are three kinds of victory for the believer: first, the ultimate victory of life over death, resulting in an eternal existence with the Lord, secondly, and overcoming victory gained by faithfulness while here on earth, and thirdly a moment by moment victory as we walk with Him as described in Hebrews,
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, `They shall not enter My rest,'” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Heb. 4:1-3 NKJ)
This rest is not a one-time occurrence but a moment by moment decision of trusting Him. It is mixing the gospel truth with faith at salvation and in life to rest in the Lord Jesus. That is the moment by moment victory in life. That is the life of victory Jesus lived.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.