Following the COVID-19 chaos in 2020, I was expecting some respite this year. Perhaps a painted canvass of multicolored good news from different quarters. Perhaps some ray of newness to make sense of our changing times. But, no. The spate of news of deaths, sicknesses, and surgeries has been quite saddening. I sincerely say a prayer of comfort for everyone going through a difficult time – may the God of comfort be with you. Amen.
For a long time, I always thought that people only suffer for their lack of faith and because they “permit” the conditions to happen to them. So daily, I would religiously read my six thousand words of confessions over all the areas of my life I want total control over. I would declare, confess, and command the things I want and afterward, I was almost certain that I was fortified. Nothing could touch me. Nothing could touch my family members. It was simply impossible. The confessions and prayers guaranteed that. I told myself that the things I did not have or get was simply because I did not really want them; if I did, I just needed to press in harder into God and it was done. Such was the quiet pride of my heart.
In my heart, I blamed people who were sick silently for being sick. If only they would search the scriptures and get words concerning good health, declare and confess it consistently, then they would be well. I judged people who were financially incapacitated. If only they would be more focused and spend time developing themselves in financially viable areas, find scriptures concerning making wealth and confess it consistently, then they would never lack money or go borrowing. In my head, I had the panacea for all of life’s problems: Be focused, Find the scripture concerning whatsoever thing you want, Confess it continuously and you will get whatsoever thing you desire.
My wrong assumption in this line of reasoning, of course, is that we are the architects of our own lives. Our lives are in our total control and we can always get whatsoever thing we desire. More so, God has no choice but to answer us. After all, one of the gospels admonishes us to keep persistently asking God for what we want. Like the unmerciful judge, if we keep pestering Him with our requests, He will answer all our requests. The anchor basis of my reasoning was these three scriptures below:
Luke 18:7-8: And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
Matthew 7:7: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 11:22-24: Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Indeed, I have discovered that almost anything we choose to believe, we can find a scriptural backing for it in the bible, whether taken within the context or out of context. We would always find a way to affirm our biases with God’s word.
As I study the scripture more and refine the types of messages I listen to, I see a pattern emerge as I look at the lives of the first apostles. They all seemed to have a life of suffering or there were areas of their lives that they had no control over. They lived their lives in total submission to the will of God. For example, looking at the life of Paul, towards his end, he endured a lot of suffering. He was imprisoned. He was abandoned by many. His carer fell sick almost to the point of death, and he was a lonely man. With all his insight and great “power”, could he not have confessed away his suffering and declared his authority, prosperity, freedom, and health in Christ? When he wrote about the messenger of Satan in 1st Corinthians 12:7, which was sent to buffet him, he prayed three times for it to go away, but God permitted it to continue so that he would not become prideful. God told him His grace was all Paul needed, and His power is made perfect in weakness.
Looking also at the life of Jesus, He did not have to go through the cross. Indeed, He asked God about the matter but was willing to do only what pleased God. It was God’s will for Him to endure suffering. The bible is fraught with many other examples to show that sometimes God permits suffering, and we cannot simply wish or pray it away. Just as He is glorified in our joys, He must also be glorified in our sufferings.
2 Corinthians 1:5: For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
1 Peter 4:13: Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
I end this note with a word of encouragement for everyone reading it – if you are going through current or long-time suffering, rejoice and be glad, for all the true comfort you desire is in Christ Jesus. Be content in His will alone and trust Him for His light to shine upon your heart, that you may see His glory in your suffering.
You are not alone.