Growing up, I received a Christian education at home, school, and church. I had a lot of head knowledge without much heart application. After marriage, I experienced problems that I couldn’t solve and was upset that God wouldn’t fix them. Remembering how God intervened for His people in biblical history, I mistakenly thought that our heavenly Father would also prevent or solve His adopted children’s problems, and was devastated that He didn’t remedy mine.
I feared God more than loved Him, and served Him because it was the right thing to do. However, through reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit drew me in to want more. Whenever I decided to deepen my relationship with the Lord, something bad would happen and I would retreat. Those trials scared me away from experiencing the Bible’s amazing truths.
God was patient with me through two decades of being fickle before allowing severe health issues to debilitate me. I felt unloved and life seemed unbearable. Having nowhere else to turn, I surrendered everything to the Lord. I tearfully gave up my will and He responded, “Finally. Now watch what I will do for you.” And I experienced His power. Every week He took away the pain, fatigue, and brain fog while I led a community Bible study. And the symptoms didn’t return until I left that classroom. Later, my health gradually improved.
I have learned that although life involves suffering, the Lord helps me persevere through my troubles and tears if I humbly ask for His help. And I’ve become that one in a million who experiences the bad side effects or has some abnormal issue. Yet, I’m relieved that God has repeatedly intervened with His power, and sometimes miracles, to carry me through my adversities. David frequently wrote about receiving the Lord’s help. “O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me” (Psalm 30:2). My supernatural healings are listed next to that verse in my Bible.
As my faith grew deeper and my personal relationship with the Lord became more vibrant, I started to depend on Him instead of my own strength. I hate suffering--physically and emotionally--but it’s part of life. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 16:33;15:20). But the Lord also said not to fear because He is with us, and He’ll strengthen, help, and uphold us (Isaiah 41:10).
Paul affirmed that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul knew by experience — reading his list of hardships would make any person consider the cost of being a Christian (2 Corinthians 6:4-5,11:23-28). However, he also revealed the Lord’s goodness associated with suffering, like experiencing God’s power and inner peace, and the Christian’s future benefits. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Committing all of yourself to the Lord will be opposed by the devil. He schemes to make Jesus’ followers miserable, especially if they’re effectively serving the Lord. But “the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Spiritual warfare is everywhere and we must stand firm wearing the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Are you afraid to get off the fence and go “all in” because of persecution or suffering? Don’t be, because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Life becomes exciting when we submit wholeheartedly and experience God’s love and power. Having a personal relationship with Him satisfies like no other. “Taste and see that the Lord is good. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:8,19).