Monday, November 10, 2014

Should We Suffer For Doing God’s Will; Why?

            This is my 100th Christian blog / article since January 2013 – a consequence of publishing an article every week. Our gracious God has enabled me to publish articles for 100 weeks without fail. People from 109 countries have read my blog, and I am grateful for only God can enable this readership.

            I may have written every single article on my own strength, but it’s not in my own strength to get people from 109 countries to read my blogs. Hence, it is God’s will that I write these blogs every week without fail, for God’s overwhelming presence is evident in my effort. (Very minimally, God’s will is God’s choices for HIS people of what to do and what not to do.)

            However, while I strive to do God’s will, I experience pain and suffering – sometimes less and sometimes more. So the question we ask is, is it conventional for those doing God’s will to be in pain? In other words, if we decide to pursue God’s will in any particular matter, would we be in pain or without pain?

            Pain is not an anomaly to those committed to God’s will. Apostle Paul, a certain candidate for the faith hall of fame, experienced great pain while doing the will of the Lord. These verses describe his pain, “…been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11: 23c – 27).

            Joseph, a member of faith hall of fame (courtesy of Hebrews 11), experienced pain while doing God’s will. For no fault of his, Joseph was rejected by his brothers and sold as a slave to Midianites. He was then imprisoned for refusing to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife.

            Pain should be anticipated when we are in the business of doing God’s will. We should be certain of this.

            Why should we be in pain while doing God’s will? God’s word says, “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3: 17). So in all that we do, we are mandated to do only that which is good in God’s presence, and while doing that which is good, we could end up suffering, for this is God’s will for our lives. (Because the term ‘good’ in this verse is opposed to ‘evil,’ it’s a given that we are to do the right-good and not the wrong-good e.g. to help a bad person perform bad deeds.)

            In other words, we are not called to participate in evil deeds; this is God’s will for our life. In most instances, we oppose evil while doing good, so pain ensues when we oppose evil.

            The Christian’s task does not end with this, for we are called to rejoice, be overjoyed, praise God, and always commit ourselves to our Lord, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name…So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4: 12-19).

            This then is the toughest element of our Christian life – to be joyous amidst pain, while doing the will of our Lord. But even before we are joyous in pain, we ought to commit ourselves to do only the right even if it entails pain.

            To remain sane and to continue to have faith in God while being in pain for doing God’s will is fundamental to a Christian life. The more we believe and remain in Christ, the saner and joyous we would be and the more we would continue praising God irrespective of our pain or no pain.

            While in pain, we trust God that even pain has a godly purpose, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1: 2-4).

            However, being in pain is not the hallmark of doing God’s will, for pain could even be a consequence of violating God’s will. A smoker or an alcoholic could be in acute pain for their sinful vices. Smoking or consuming alcohol is most surely not the will of God. So smokers, alcoholics and their families would be in pain for not doing God’s will. Had they only done the will of God, which is to not smoke or drink, they would have been free of pain.

            So pain need not necessarily indicate a performance of God’s will. It is a fact that doing God’s will keeps pain away from us in various instances. This too is certain.

            Having said this, pain is believed to be a major cause for Christians to drop their faith in God. But to drop faith in God on account of pain and evil is to engage in a barter system with God.

            In other words, those who drop their faith in God on account of pain expect only good things from God in exchange for their faith in HIM. Their slogan to God is I-give-you-faith-and-YOU-give-me-good-things-in-life. This system of religious belief reduces God to a goodness vending machine, and religion as a means to receiving goodness.

            Good christians live faithfully in the face of evil and pain for doing God’s will. Let’s take the life story of Gladys Staines, the wife of missionary Graham Staines, as a case in point.

            In a brutal attack, Graham Staines and his sons aged 10 and 6 were burnt to death by a communal mob while they were sleeping in their station wagon in Odisha, India on 22-Jan-1999. Gladys Staines did not allow this horrendous evil upon her family to shake or drop her faith in God. Instead she accepted the death of her husband and sons as God’s will for her life; hence she chose to forgive the evildoers.

            Certain situations in our life will test our faith and walk with God. Most often these situations engage us in the form of evil and pain. If we aspire to be good and faithful Christians, we cannot allow pain and evil to shake our faith in God. Instead we should continue trusting in God and doing HIS will, irrespective of pain and evil.

            Paul and Barnabas encouraged the Christians to remain faithful in pain, “…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said…” (Acts 14: 22).

            But while we are in pain, God says this to you and me, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isaiah 43: 1b-3a).

            Thank you for reading my articles; please pray that I would continue doing the will of our Lord. May God continually bless you according to HIS perfect and pleasing will. Amen.


All Scripture quotations are from NIV unless otherwise mentioned. Emphasis in these Scripture quotations is mine.    


Joel Indrupati said...

Dear Raj, Congratulations on the 100th post. Even if people like me do not comment or give you regular feedback, please be assured that many of us are really blessed by what you write. We Read! And we can see the painstaking research you do for your articles. We find your writings knowledgeable, wise, useful, and thought-provoking. Keep up the good work. And God bless your ministry.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Joel,

Many thanks for your kind words of encouragement and blessings. Your generous words encourages me very much. Remain blessed in the name of our Lord. Regards to your family.

pansan said...

Very nice article, brother Raj. Keep up the good work. God bless you!

pansan said...

Very nice article, brother Raj. Keep up the good work. God bless you.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you very much, Pansan. Be blessed in the name of our Lord Jesus...