This is Part 7 of 7 parts answering the question, “Can a believer be victorious while God allows suffering in his life?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?”
Victory Results From Self-examination
The joy of the Christian life is that you do not have to be “strong” in the way the world acknowledges strength, like an NFL player or an Olympic Athlete! You are not fighting against any “super-heroes” around you. You only must rely on the Lord to fight your battles and sustain you. Stephen Bramer assures,
God can use some very sinful people to cause believers to suffer. This allows learning to take place in two ways: first, learning to stop doing one’s own sinful actions; second, realizing that what the evil agent of suffering is doing is not right either. It was as though God said to Habakkuk in 2:4, “Rather than talk about the Babylonians, take a look at yourself and learn to trust me.”5
So, how should a genuine believer then live when the suffering and judgment may not be personally deserved? Habakkuk encouraged,
17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls– 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. (Hab. 3:17-19 NKJ)
While believers may suffer, “they do not need to grumble or complain. They can suffer and trust in the Lord without depending on circumstances.”6 Even though suffering might seem insurmountable, one day God’s people will become the ultimate victors through the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The believer that is going through trials must remember that they are not always caused by or result from personal sin. Victor Anderson upholds this suffering child of God,
Scripture often links suffering to direct personal sin, but not always. Suffering may come from sin within a family (e.g. Achan) or within a nation (e.g. Israel) or within the world (e.g. the world’s condition at the time of the flood). Yet a man could be born blind with no direct link to sin (John 9). The unrighteous suffer, and, much to the consternation of the righteous, God-followers like Job also go through undeserved, intense suffering.7
As believers, what should our response be to hardships? We must continue to press forward in the Christian life and keep our focus on Him!
Press Forward By Faith For Victory
Paul stressed the importance of getting along with others and not being overcome by anyone’s wrongdoing,
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:18-21 NKJ)
As every soldier on the battlefield knows – keep pressing forward to the objective. The objective for the believer is to honor the Lord Jesus in every thought, word and action!
1) How would you describe Christian victory in suffering?
2) How would you explain the suffering Jesus faced? Was it possible for Him to be defeated (in, by, as a result of) this suffering?
3) Why are strength and intelligence NOT crucial for experiencing victory in the midst of suffering? How is faith a “leveler on the playing field”?
4) What are five ways in which you can strengthen yourself to be a better equipped overcomer on a moment by moment basis?
5) What ingredient is essential to help a struggling believer keep pressing ahead in the Christian life? How would you encourage him? What passages would you use?
1Mark Bailey, “A Biblical Theology of Suffering in the Gospels,” Why, O God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 176
2Ibid., p. 180.
3Stanley Toussaint, “Suffering in Acts and the Pauline Epistles,” Why, O God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 190.
4 Ibid., p. 192.
5Stephen Bramer, “Suffering in the Writing Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi),” Why, O God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 154.
7Victor Anderson, “Pastoral Care and Disability,” Why, O God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 233.