Sufferology

Sufferology is the study of suffering and Biblical Sufferology is from a Biblical perspective, which is what I am going to address here. This is an extremely important topic to understand as a Christian, especially in the days we are living where persecution is at an all time high. Ray Comfort notes in his book God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life "...few would deny that the Church has fallen short of the powerful, disciplined, sanctified Church seen in the Book of Acts. This is a result of the enemy subtly diverting our attention away from our core message. Instead of preaching the Good News that sinners can be made righteous in Christ and escape the wrath to come, we have settled for a 'gospel' that implies that God's primary purpose in saving us is to unfold a 'wonderful plan' for our lives: to solve our problems, make us happy in Christ, and rescue us from the hassles of this life."[1] He goes on to say, "Multitudes of martyrs have suffered unspeakable torture for the cause of Christ. It should not have been a surprise to the early church when persecution hit them. Jesus warned them that they may have to give their lives for His name's sake. He even said, 'brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake' (Matthew 10:21,22).[2]

Biblical sufferology starts with the premise that God loves us, knows everything we are going through, and is there to guide us through whatever He has allowed to happen to us. Every human experience can be shaped into a positive experience with a right perspective and relationship with Almighty God. God clearly knew it was going to happen and He gives us the grace to get through it. He uses these experiences to draw us closer to Him. He promises to use these experiences for good if we let Him. It is natural to hurt and grieve. I believe grieving has primarily five stages but Biblical sufferology tries to produce a Biblical grief response... denial becomes honesty with self, anger becomes honesty with God, bargaining becomes asking God for help, depression becomes comfort and peace from God through relationship with Him, and acceptance hopefully leads to worship, thanksgiving and praise. It is very important in Biblical sufferology to see the "big picture" in the midst of suffering. It is important to understand why God allows pain and sufffering, and an explanation of this can be found on my page "pain and suffering."

Pastor Wurmbrand made this profound statement about suffering. He said, "How much each one of us can suffer depends on how much he is bound up with a cause, how dear this cause is to him, and how much it means for him." In the Communist countries there were preachers and writers of Christian books and composers of hymnals who sold out and became traitors. Why did they cave? "Everything", said Wurmbrand, "depends on whether we have remained in the sphere of words or if we are merged with the divine reality".

"I have told in the West how Christians were tied to crosses for four days and four nights. The crosses were put on the floor and other prisoners were tortured and made to fulfill their bodily necessities upon the faces and the bodies of the crucified ones. I have since been asked, 'Which Bible verse helped and strengthened you in those circumstances?' My answer is, 'No Bible verse was of any help.' It is sheer cant and religious hypocrisy to say, 'This Bible verse strengthens me, or that Bible verse helps me.' Bible verses alone are not meant to help.

"We knew Psalm 23: "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…'When you pass through suffering you realize that it was never meant by God that Psalm 23 should strengthen you. It is the Lord who can strengthen you, not the Psalm which speaks of Him so doing. It is not enough to have the Psalm. You must have the One about whom the Psalm speaks. We also knew the verse: "My Grace is sufficient for thee." But the verse is not sufficient. It is the Grace which is sufficient and not the verse."

"Pastors and zealous witnesses who are handling the Word as a calling from God are in danger of giving holy words more value than they really have. Holy words are only the means to arrive at the reality expressed by them. If you are united with the Reality, the Lord Almighty, evil loses its power over you; it cannot break the Lord Almighty. If you only have the words of the Lord Almighty you can be very easily broken."[3]

FOOTNOTES:

1. Comfort, Ray. God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message, Living Waters Publications,Bellflower, CA, 2010. pg. 21
2. Comfort, Ray. God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message, Living Waters Publications,Bellflower, CA, 2010. pg. 26
3. Wurmbrand, Richard. Preparing For the Underground Church.


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