This is Part 6 of 7 parts answering the question, “Can a believer be victorious while God allows suffering in his lifel?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 7 will be posted tomorrow.
You Can Be Victorious While Suffering
Is it possible to triumph during trials? Yes! But it is not easy. While we consider our suffering here on earth to be gruesome and unbearable, Paul reminds us that it can be viewed as “light,”
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NKJ)
I have experienced physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual suffering myself, and it often does NOT seem light! Stanley Toussaint promotes the eternal perspective and daily renewal that is needed when enduring hardship,
Few passages stress the need for daily revival more than this one. The reason believers need to be renewed daily is that “light momentary affliction is preparing for [them] an eternal weight of glory behind all comparison.” “Light momentary affliction” stands in contrast to “eternal weight of glory.”3
Toussaint then emphasizes the victorious spiritual growth that comes through sharing in Christ’s suffering,
Suffering is an Essential part of spiritual growth. It is often used in believers’ lives to bring them to spiritual maturity. One passage that says this is Philippians 3:10: “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Knowing Christ in one’s daily experience often means suffering for the sake of Christ. This of course leads to spiritual growth. That is why Paul adds in verse 12, “not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”A similar concept is found in Colossians 1:24, which is a difficult statement: “In my flesh I am filling out what is lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”4
This victorious maturing process is also seen in John’s letter to the churches of Asia as he wrote to spiritual children, spiritual young men and spiritual fathers,
13 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one. (1 John 2:13-14 NKJ)
The children, who realize their continual failures and learning process, just need to know they are forgiven and can keep growing in that spiritual phase. The spiritual young men are affirmed that they are fighting in spiritual battles and are overcoming because “they keep on believing that Jesus is the Son of God.” The spiritual fathers have time, growth and experiences which draw them into an intimate relationship with God the Father. They each experience victory through their sufferings. And John proclaims that this victory is because of the Godhead residing in them, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJ; John includes all categories of God’s children who are growing in the Lord Jesus)
Does the victory just happen? No, it begins by a self-examination.