Summary: (BY Todd Bentley) Todd will conclude his teaching on what suffering is and examine in detail what it definitely isn’t. Discover the apostle Paul’s secret to rejoicing in light of suffering and learn how to release joy in the midst of it.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERING - PART 2: CONCLUSION
BY TODD BENTLEY
Date: May 22, 2006
This is a two-part testimony teaching entitled, The Fellowship of His Suffering, by Todd Bentley.
Last week, Todd presented the wilderness process through his own recent six-month wilderness journey, through the lives of biblical characters, and through a metaphorical examination into the molting process of the majestic eagle. We also discovered that suffering is growth, that it’s a process, that it is rest, hope, and death. In this final part, Todd will conclude his teaching on what suffering is, and examine in detail what it definitely isn’t. Discover the apostle Paul’s secret to rejoicing in light of suffering, and learn how to release joy in the midst of it. Finally, Todd shares how our scars from the deep wounds and dark nights, can encourage others.
SUFFERING IS JOY
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Christ endured the cross, “endure” being the key word here. The only way we can endure suffering is in the joy that is set before us. If we lose sight of the joy before Him, we can’t make it through the fire, the hunger, the molting. If it wasn’t for God’s anchor and His prophetic word and promises to me in the midst of my own shaking and suffering, I would not have made it through to the other end. There has to be a prophetic word, hope, and encouragement because it is the joy that was set before Christ, that enabled Him to endure His hour of suffering. The joy set before Him was the resurrection.
I didn’t actually rejoice when God’s fire and hand came down and it began to hurt. I winced, but I didn’t rejoice. In fact, it was like, “See you later God, we’ll talk later.” In the midst of the pain, I wish I could have arrived at the place where I am now, where I’m really rejoicing, where I’m so drunk in the Spirit with the joy of the Holy Ghost, that I wonder sometimes how that could have ever come out of suffering.
It hurts so much when God begins to strip us of our pride and all the other hindering issues of the heart. How do we release the joy? By carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you (2 Cor. 4:7–14). It’s going to take death and suffering to get to the joy. We have to desire the life of Christ manifested within.
SUFFERING IS A GIFT
Most Christians understand that salvation, faith to believe in Jesus, is a gift from God. But suffering? Here, Paul actually compares suffering with salvation: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). It has been granted to you to suffer. You’ve won the prize of suffering. It is granted to us not just to believe in Christ, but to suffer for His sake. “It has been granted” derives from the Greek verb charizomai, which comes from charis, meaning, “grace.” The noun form of this word is used to denote spiritual gifts. It also means to show favor or kindness. Thus, suffering is a gift and a privilege. Usually gifts come from people who love you and have your best interests at heart—they favor you, not because you deserve it or have earned it, simply as a gesture of love.
We, in turn, are usually thankful for the bestowment of gifts, aren’t we? Are you thankful to God for the gift of suffering for Jesus’ sake? God gives us suffering as a grace gift, as compassionately, and lovingly as He gives us salvation, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).