8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NASB)
Many years ago in a much younger season in my life, I worked with a fellow whose theology was quite different than mine. I had small children at that time and whatever diseases they brought home from school, my wife and I always contracted them….
I would come to work suffering from the plague given to me by my children causing my coworker to admonish me for having sin in my life, which, according to him, was the cause of my misery. His theology was that God’s will for His children was that they be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous instead of disease ridden, living within humble means, and not always “winning.”
About that time, I read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. I found myself weeping as I read of God’s people being burned at the stake, crucified upside down, or used as torches to light Nero’s gardens at night. Were these people martyred because they had sin in their lives? Would they have been spared the ignominy of their martyrdom if they had been more careful in walking in the promises of health, wealth, and prosperity that is what God really wants to give all His people? As I studied the suffering of God’s people from His perspective, I learned that my coworker and those from whom he got his theology were ignoring much of God’s Word while misinterpreting much of the rest. What is God’s will in relation to suffering in the life of His people?