“From submission to suffering and death and hell came victory, the shattering of the powers of evil, the ransacking of the strong man’s house, deliverance for his prisoners, the redemption of his possessions, the reversal of his plans.”
— Peter Hicks
LIVING as a Christian is about letting God have his way. This radical metanoia is the turning from everything we ever knew implicitly over to a form of life that is so counterintuitive it actually requires real acquisition of the Holy Spirit. And that is it. For when we’re indwelt with the Spirit the Spirit communicates to us, and suddenly we’re a subject in the spiritual realm, and this involves warfare — God will ask us to suffer, as he asked Jesus to suffer. The only way through spiritual attack is to obey God. For God will make for us a way through.
Christ is the way to victory, because greatness was achieved only one time in this entire world: on the cross. The cross was one human’s triumph for all humans. The resurrection was God’s triumph, for God and for humanity. The cross was the once-for-all-time demonstration of how to respond to evil and suffering. And the resurrection was a once-for-all-time transaction — death unto life — so all who would partake in suffering would also reign victorious over it through being risen to new life. We cannot explain the resurrection reality in our mortal flesh when we bear our crosses, but that’s what happens.
Spiritual warfare seems to make for us many of our suffering situations. Spiritual attack comes in the mode of situations that don’t merely offend, but castigate us into a death in the reality of life. Yet, the attacks of warfare we experience in this life are simply pointers of antecedence to the incoming power we receive as God raises us — through our obedience in the struggle.
We can see how Jesus was attacked by the very being of Satan as he endured his passion. Satan threw everything at Jesus and still Satan failed. Satan was unable to see the redemptive plan, because he was unable to understand it.
Evil cannot comprehend the self-effacing nature of love in the kingdom of God.
What might seem so very hard — to bear our trials, suffering and struggles patiently — is possible with God. And what is possible is actually the way to defeat the attacks with which we, ourselves, attack ourselves with. Satan works by turning us on ourselves. Satan works by self-destruction and self-sabotage. But when the gentleness of God is fervent in us, we have a way beyond fretting; to know that fretting only causes evil (Psalm 37:8). Fear takes us away from God every time. Only via faith can we please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Jesus shows us in human form how we’re to deal with suffering and cope, trusting the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is our exemplar for spiritual life when any other response would bring certain spiritual death.
The point of the Kingdom is evil and suffering ultimately don’t matter. All that matters is God. This is a faith statement — it can only be true by faith: the decision to commit to a specific action of faith. This doesn’t mean we don’t have a mission; we do. We ought to advocate for justice for the powerless. But we ought to do so knowing that God is in control and everything abides in God’s plan.
If we’re offended in any way about the suffering that God would allow to occur we ought to be quickly counselled of our limited knowledge. We do not know what is coming. And we do not know what God’s purposes are in anything.
Jesus can help us in our suffering because Jesus showed us how to suffer.
Doing the will of the Lord is the way to his enduring power over suffering.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.