Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry - Ephesians 4:12

Faith, Suffering and the Resurrection

In Matthew 26, Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane for the Lord to take away what He was about to endure. I see this to be Jesus’ most human moment. He knew He faced agony, distress and death, coupled with bearing the sins of the world. This was a bitter cup to drink. He was a sinless man about to take the fall for the sins of many.

The chapters written in Matthew and Mark never mention God replying to Jesus’ prayers. However, Jesus remained steadfast. In Matthew 26:46, He said to his disciples, “Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

I see a man rising up with a faith like none I’ve ever known. A man ready to face whatever came at Him to express His love to His Father. This man walked in faith, and when He arose from the grave He proclaimed victory to all who believed.

When we celebrate Easter we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the promise of new life. It is easy to pray and have faith when we already know the outcome. Unfortunately, that is generally not the case when we pray. What we fail to see is that through Christ’s death and resurrection our present situation is already won and the victory awaits us. Therefore, our faith is judged by our future, not our past.

God doesn’t want to see us suffer. He wants to see us victorious in our faith. However, not all of our trials feel as if we are instantly victorious! Instead, they need a faith that endures through the trial, like Christ’s did on the day He suffered for all. So what are these two types of faith and how do they apply to what I’m going through when I endure suffering?

Many, of us struggle with faith in one way or another. Some may even ask what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that it is being sure of what we’ve hoped for, and being certain of what we do not see. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that faith is the antidote to despair. It is how we cope when times seem the darkest.

Romans 14:23 – ”But those who have doubts are guilty if they eat. Their eating is not based on faith. Everything that is not based on faith is sin.”

Faith means choosing joy in the midst of our suffering. Romans 14:23 reminds us if we don’t have faith then it is sin. Therefore, the opposite of faith is sin. Are you saying that anytime I am faced with a situation where I am at my last hope that I am in sin? No, I am not.

Whatever our reaction is to our situation, it must involve trust in God. Anything else involves dealing with the situation ourselves and we supersede God’s ability to intercede on our behalf. However faith, when executed through faithfulness, sends vibrations through the spiritual world as the Holy Spirit makes intercession on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27).

Hebrews 12:2 – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Types of Faith

  1. Victorious faith is exemplified in the lives of the heroes of Hebrews 11 who saw miracles, physical healings, great deliverances, and victories on the battlefield. Jesus Christ was willing to suffer and die so that we could be victorious in our faith. He allowed our pain to be redeemed by God. He is producing an unshakable faith in us.
  2. Fidelity faith holds on to hope as the evidence of unseen victory, even in the midst of defeat and death. Job’s persevering faith is an example of fidelity, as is the faith through which Jesus endured the cross. When God seems silent, our strength fails, and we are perplexed to the point of despair, fidelity faith must be exercised.

    We must hold onto the fact that He will not leave us or forsake us (Psalms 22, Hebrews 13:5). We must keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, as we share in His sufferings (Hebrews 12:2-3). In Philippians 3:10, Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

The Transformation of the Body of Christ

In John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When we endure suffering we desire to withdraw into our own world of comforts. We wonder if God will ever destroy the evil in this world. If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He destroy the things that make us suffer? Could it be that our hope lies more on His power than His timing? Perhaps His purpose is for us to see that through our suffering we discover joy and victory?

We can rejoice that evil and suffering will one day be destroyed as death is “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54) and our mortal beings will be “swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4). It is His timing that we wait for, not our own. We await with eager anticipation the coming of Christ. We desire the timing to be as we see fit and not as God sees it.

Jesus’ disciples believed Christ’s time on earth was going to be jubilant. They believed His power would be unleashed upon the earth, all evil would be abolished, and all heaven and earth would bow down to His great name (Philippians 2:5-11).

Much to their dismay, He was beaten, mocked, hung on a cross, then buried. What could have possibly gone through their minds? Did they go back to their old professions? Was their hope lost? Could good really triumph over evil? Was God going to step in and change the course of human events?

Their hope turned into joy resurrection morning as they heard the good news. Their faith was restored in a God that showed that there was no darkness too great He couldn’t overcome. They witnessed the beginning of a change. God would send the Holy Spirit to reside within us and allow us to be His representatives.

The faith of these disciples was beginning changing from fidelity faith practiced, to victorious faith lived out. They soon learned that to live out the faith of Jesus Christ by doing God’s work resulted in suffering and relieving suffering in others (1 Corinthians 12:26). How quickly they learned that the suffering of others needed their attention!

As part of the body of Christ, the suffering of others becomes our pain. As we grow in faith through our suffering we learn how to bring healing to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We are the body of Christ, living out fidelity faith through our trials and experiencing victorious faith when we receive our victory.

We are not expected to become complacent. Instead, the testimony that is a result of our trial spills out to others so they too may be healed of their sufferings. Our hearts long to see others healed and walking in victorious faith. Living life looking forward brings the unity and love that binds us together.

1 Corinthians 12:27 – “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

In 2004, Lea Bates answered the call to begin a women's prison ministry and in 2007 helped pioneer a drug and alcohol regeneration center for women. She is an ordained minister living in Georgia. Lea's first book, “Before I Knew You," is available in paperback through Lulu.com.