In light of this, let us remember that there is nothing new under the sun. Suffering in various forms is a universal experience for the believer for their good and The Glory of Him.
The world, even Christians now a days create an idea that if we are suffering for Christ, something is wrong or that we are doing something wrong therefore suffering is a problem. It is right to think that something is wrong, because that something is us and that wrong is our sin. However it is destructive to think that suffering for Christ occurs because we are doing something wrong therefore it is a problem. We are actually doing something righteous therefore it is a glorious necessity required to produce more righteousness. Trials and sufferings in our Christian walk will be faced and ought to be embraced until they have finished their work in us.
James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of [our] faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that [we] may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Peter also tells his brethren during a time of prosecution “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;” Therefore it is there in The Word that trials and sufferings because of Christ are not in vain and ought to be embraced with joy.
During this time of fasting, many internal trials are experienced because one is deliberately waging war with their flesh at a specific time. It is a death to one’s natural reliance for life and causing one to rely on the Spirit for life. As a result, a form of suffering that we will encounter is going against the nature of one’s lusts. Instead of appeasing the flesh, we are starving it for the sake of Christ. Another form of suffering is the sin revealed within ourselves and the sin prayed over to be conquered. Paul puts it precisely in Romans 7: 24,
“Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of death?”
Paul is revealing the agonizing war against the Spirit and the flesh, and often this is heightened and exposed during a fast.
However, Paul does not leave us begging and crying out for mercy, he expresses gratitude and reliance towards The One who refines and sculpts us during our trials. In verse 25 he states “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Paul understands that the present sufferings are expected and necessary.
Therefore, we as Christians today need to ask God to help us to embrace suffering and to let the fire finish its purifying work in us. The various tests and trials we face because of Christ reveal that we are His workmen therefore we should not be surprised when we face them. James calls them various trials meaning that they are everything and anything, big or small, long or short, used to test, purify, and refine us. Let us pray to God to see trials through this lens because in our natural self we do not. Let us ask God to help us embrace His discipline because we often run away from it.
Our goal during times of fasting and in this life, is to honour God and in doing so we will encounter suffering. Paul said in Romans 8: 18
“[f]or I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”.
Christ’s sufferings were an example and His Resurrection was a promise. Let us therefore pray and hold fast to the truths that sufferings and trials because of Christ are to be embraced with full understanding and joy. We need Him to understand this because we are far from it.
During our times of fasting I have personally experienced various trials and suffered in the flesh and in the Spirit. Through this it is so easy to question God’s ability to help, and to question our faith and to question our motives and you know what, it is good! It is good for us to go through these trials because they show us where our strength truly lies or where it ought to lie. Remember, everyone on this earth is suffering for one reason or another. And how amazing it is, to suffer for Christ knowing that it is indeed for His glory and our joy! Your suffering is not in vain nor is it strange.
Easy to say, tested to be experienced.
Let us pray…because I’m not sure about you, but I am far from really embracing this precious truth.
We should not be surprised by times of suffering. Peter tells his brethren not to suffer for being a murderer or a thief but rather for being a Christian. We will suffer in this world and in ourselves against the principalities and flesh that wages war against us. As Christ suffered, He is glorified through His resurrection, therefore as we suffer now, we too will be glorified upon His return. Count it all joy!
21 Days of Surrender: Tips for a Successful Fast
8. Lean on the Holy Spirit. A fast reveals that you can do NOTHING within your own strength. The Holy Spirit is there to guide you and help you to be disciplined and faithful. Stop relying on self. Self will fail you every time. But the Holy Spirit wins even before He begins!