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Suffer Now or Suffer Later

Suffer is defined as an experience where you are being subjected to something bad or unpleasant. Affliction, distress, grief, misery, pain, sadness and trauma are byproducts of suffering. While the Bible contains numerous accounts of suffering, the story of Job is unfathomable. Messenger after messenger brought Job news of disaster and tragedy, Job 1:15-19. Raids, a natural disaster and war took away all of his animals and killed his children. A chapter later, God allows Satan to attack Job’s health, filled with boils, similar to an extreme reaction to poison ivy. Despite an urging from his wife, Job did not blame or curse God for his suffering.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

The apostle Paul provides a biblical perspective of suffering in the passage above. While celebrating hardship is the last thing on my mind, Paul attempts to help his readers see the big picture. Suffering for doing the right thing, standing up for the right causes or walking with Jesus is like earning a spiritual merit badge. Meanwhile, even if you endure unexplained tribulations, the process of suffering builds character, endurance and maturity according to Jesus’ earthly brother, James 1:2-4. Thus, suffering now is better than suffering later in hell. Developing this biblical mindset toward suffering will bring a new perspective.

And the beast was seized and overpowered, and with him the false prophet who in his presence had worked wonders and performed miracles by which he led astray those who had accepted or permitted to be placed upon them the stamp (mark) of the beast and those who paid homage and gave divine honors to his statue. Both of them were hurled alive into the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone, Revelation 19:20. Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages), Revelation 20:10.

In the passages above, John shares vivid details of visions of what hell will be like. Revelation 19 suggests that enemies of God will be hurled into a lake of fire alive. The imagery of this suffering is consistent with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. The wealthy man complains of torment, begging to dip his tongue in cool water. Despite being on fire, death does not occur, resulting in continuous suffering. Meanwhile, Revelation 20 takes this one step further, suffering and torment will occur day after day for ages and ages. After hearing a recent sermon on this topic, I am more convinced than ever to suffer now rather than suffer for eternity.

by Jay Mankus

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