God Appoints Suffering For His Name’s Sake
The word “adversity” in our text above is the word “ra`” in Hebrew, which is typically translated as “evil”. So then, when days of “adversity” or “wickedness” or “evil” befall us, let us consider that inasmuch as God has appointed days of prosperity, He has also appointed days of adversity which we might call evil. And if we thank Him for the one, shall we not thank Him for the other? God has “appointed” or “set” our days of adversity and evil. Even as God “made” the firmaments of heaven and the two great lights and the beasts of the field, He has “made” our days of adversity; it is the same Hebrew word. Can man pluck the sun from its place or move the earth from its orbit? No. They are set by God, and we rejoice that He has set them in their place. What shall we say then? “…who can make straight what He has made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13) Rejoice in all that God has set, including the days of adversity.
It is not only not a surprise to God when evil befalls us, but we must know that He appoints such days in His sovereignty. Not that God authors sin or evil (this is a wicked thought), but that He permits us to experience it and even appoints it to us. Immediately after the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus, a man named Ananias was visited by the Lord in a vision. In His instruction about Saul of Tarsus, the Lord tells him, “… I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:16) The apostle Paul suffered much, and God told it to Ananias before any of it had happened. What was the purpose of it? “For my name’s sake.” Meditate on this! For God’s own name are we appointed suffering. Ah, but someone will say, “This is cruelty. Surely God would not appoint deliberate suffering if we being evil would never dream of appointing suffering to our children.” But you reason according to your own wisdom and not by His word. “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?” (Romans 9:20) God’s ways are “past finding out” and yet He has given us His word that though we are afflicted from without, we might be comforted through Him from within.
Too often, we miscalculate suffering as always equivalent with wrath or retribution. But this is far from the case. It is true that suffering can be the result of disobedience, and that God will not be mocked. Men do reap what they sow, but this is not always the reason for adversity or suffering. Indeed, more often than not the righteous are afflicted as a result of their obedience and faithfulness. The author of Hebrews presents to us the exemplary models of faith in chapter 11; this “great.. cloud of witnesses” which we would do well to emulate. But in all our admiration, let us consider carefully a theme all too common in the faithful such as these:
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.
They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
Let’s reflect on this seeming paradox. Commonly called “The Hall of Faith”, Hebrews 11 is a chapter of triumph and inspiration. Those who, at the dictate of the Holy Spirit Himself, have been deemed most faithful are recorded in this chapter as models to be observed, and yet the chapter concludes with words such as: “tortured”, “mockings”, “scourgings”, “imprisonment”, “stoned”, “sawn in two”, “tempted”, “slain with the sword”, “destitute”, “afflicted” and “tormented”. By faith, the walls of Jericho came down for the Lord’s own name’s sake. And, as a result of faithfulness, Isaiah was sawed in two, likewise, for the Lord’s own name’s sake. We must take the one with the other.
It has been said that if one lives long enough they will bleed. In this sense, both the sun and the rain come upon the just and the unjust. But, we are not Deists. Ours is not a God inactive or inattentive. He is intimately involved in our world and even in our personal suffering. Paul was appointed suffering for the sake of God’s own name which also had Paul’s good in mind. It is no different with any of us. It was not the wrath of God which caused Paul to be beaten, stoned or imprisoned anymore than it was God’s wrath that His faithful servant Job was tortured and oppressed by Satan. God is glorified when His saints suffer well and we are the better when tribulation comes, “knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3) So Paul admonishes us to “glory in tribulations”.
Easier said than done, right? Well, struggle through it if you must, but accept it fully. In one case, our suffering might be preparing us to comfort others who will suffer after us (2 Corinthians 1:4). In another case, our suffering might be an inspiration to onlookers who are observing the genuineness of our faith. In yet another, it may be God Himself testing us and sanctifying us. Whether you live in peace (days of prosperity) or suffer in death (days of adversity), consider that the Lord has appointed both for His name’s sake. Let us be the Lord’s; content with our lot from Him. By God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, may we say with Job,
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”(Job 1:21)
There may be manifold peripheral reasons for the suffering of the faithful, but all can be ultimately linked to one phrase: “for My name’s sake.” Have you suffered through false accusations? It is for His name’s sake. Have you become sick even to the point of death? It is for His name’s sake. Have you unexpectedly lost a loved one? It is for His name’s sake. Have you been “destitute”, “afflicted” or “tormented”? Yes, it is for His name’s sake. God is not sadistic by any means, but appoints adversity that He might get glory for Himself and strengthen your faith; increasing your dependence upon Him. I can boldly admonish you by the Holy Spirit to,
take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when [you are] weak, then [you are] strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
For whose sake? “For Christ’s sake”. We must be content, yes, well pleased to say, in truth, “…not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Was not Jesus’ suffering appointed for Him? Did He not count it joy despite His soul being “exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”? Yes, He counted it joy:
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)
We look not to ourselves, nor the suffering, but to Christ. As the old hymn goes, “whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘it is well; it is well with my soul.'” Even as Jesus saw past the immediate suffering to the Joy that would come of it, we must rest in knowing that God appoints our suffering for His own name’s sake. This only happens when we have a true interest in the glory and majesty of God; in His name being magnified in all the earth. And if we truly desire His will to be done in and through us, come what will, we can have joy in the suffering itself, knowing that the Lord is being glorified through us as His ambassadors. For some, this may be very difficult to come to terms with because of a particularly traumatizing experience. In fact, this is very likely the most common objection to Christianity and belief in God in general. The problem of a good God allowing suffering for some is insurmountable. But this must be viewed in a fuller context, never in the vacuum of mere subjectivity.
There has only yet ever been One innocent Person. His name is Jesus. He and He alone was perfect and sinless. He and He alone deserved no evil to befall Him. Anyone else born of women has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and can only be said to have rightly earned God’s eternal wrath as a result. Yes, the greatest wonder of all is not that people suffer evils in this world, but that any at all are allowed to experience pleasure or peace for even a moment. We largely view things from the erroneous perspective that we deserve good things. Let God’s wisdom correct us to see that we deserve nothing but hell, and any experience of pleasure or tranquility is already an act of mercy from the Lord to us. There is not a man living who has not incurred God’s judgment by his own nature, yet, the Perfect, Innocent, Jesus afforded mercy to us through His own blood. When we gain a proper perspective of our sinful and rebellious nature, the only wonder should be that we do not suffer constantly, rather than that we may suffer sometimes. The only thing we are owed is adversity and evil and yet God in His infinite mercy has paved the way for eternal peace through the Prince of Peace. And even the suffering of Christians in this earth has the end of His glory and their good. It is never meaningless, but according to His Providence, he works, “all things… together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Grasp this thought! Seriously think on it, you who call yourself a Christian,
For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8)
No sooner has the sun risen than the dark comes. No sooner has summer past than winter is at the door. One day we celebrate birth and the next we mourn death. These things are set, ultimately for His name’s sake. Many years before-hand, Jesus effectively told Peter how He would die. Some would think it a luxury to know, others a curse. Nevertheless, at the end of John’s gospel (John 21:18-19) we read,
‘Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God.”
Adversity entered the world with sin and we still live in the world. Believers don’t struggle with the world, the world struggles with believers but we are in Christ, complete and righteous and the world isn’t.
A most excellent writing on adversity in a believer’s life…we endure all for Christ’s sake. Thank you!!
First off, thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you to illuminate biblical truth. As Christians, we must always look to scripture as our authority on these and any other matter that we may be tempted to enter the “vacuum of subjectivity”, as you o succinctly put. In so doing, we see that sufferings are not only common among the people of God, they are INSEPARABLE from being used to refine true Christian character. Jesus said “Woe unto you when men speak well of you” meaning when you , in the name of the pursuit of comfort and pleasure, continue to compromise and not speak boldly in my name, are well thought of by general consensus, it is a problem because men hated me and as my servants they will certainly hate you. As we persist in doing His will, taking up our respective crosses and following Him, we are going to be continually assailed and subverted by Satan and his minions, manifested through the dark acts of a godless, sin stained populace. Upon examination, the men and women of scripture, including those in the hall of faith, were so enshrined not only because they suffered but because they understood the glory that was to be revealed behind the sufferings. They are vaunted not because of some special, esoteric , Gnostic understanding of God’s word, but because they understand through scripture and experience that the God of heaven IS merciful (not exacting the punishment we deserve) and in light of that to “offer their bodies as living sacrifices, wholly and pleasing, which is acceptable. Where I wish to be spiritually is where Paul describes in Philippians 4: 12 as knowing what it is to “be abased and to abound, everywhere and in all things to be both full and hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” , and “having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10). I pray that all of us true believers know what it means to truly “rejoice in sufferings”, knowing that that they are “not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us”. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you, —-Jason in NC
Also, as kind of an aside, I think being a Detroit Lions fan has contributed bountifully to my embrace of suffering, thanks again Josh.
This was so good Josh…a BIG Thank You from me !!!
I am grateful to the Lord that He used this to encourage you and build you in His word and truth, Gloria. God bless you.
Thankyou for writing this Joshua. It was very timely as I and a handful of other close brothers have been struggling alot lately. And a couple of us were talking about suffering the other day. And sure enough you write an encouraging, necessary and yet sober article on suffering the next day.
One thing that I think is the other side of the coin of suffering, is temptation. Even though our struggle against temptation is a type of suffering indeed.
The burning temptations that come from within are torment. But yet none of us have really resisted to the point of shedding blood like our Lord Jesus Christ did. Even that shows how weak we are in the flesh, are we really fighting against the flesh as much as we think sometimes? I would think we give in to the subtle and sometimes overbearing burning within us all too easily.
May we all do as The Lord told the disciples in the garden.
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41 NASB
But may we continue to do that with great fervour, as the day fast approaches.
God bless you Joshua. Please pray for me. Paul had an abundance of God’s grace poured out on him for the sake of the Gospel, and yet as strong and bold as we see Paul, he was aware of and boasted all the more of his weaknesses.
How much more of a reason to look soberly at the weakness of our flesh and to keep ourselves in the strength of Christ.
Thanks so much for taking the time to teach…I can honestly say that I’ve really learned so much…I have been living with stage 4 cancer for 4 1/2 years now ( yes it’s everywhere including 7 brain tumors) I too have always been a believer and was saved in my teens but then my mom died and I kinda ran wild for a while…. God slowed me down a few times with some very major trials (as I look back on my life) I never blamed him but it wasn’t until my cancer diagnosis that I actually came back to him…I was thankful that he gave me a few more years than my mom had and since I could no longer work I’ve had so much more time to think…my friends don’t understand how I can not be crying all the time and not be depressed (don’t get me wrong, I hate the things the docs are putting me thru) They kinda laugh when I tell them how much I don’t care about this “meat suit” I travel in. It has betrayed me almost my entire life and it’s not the real me…I’m inside this broken body and one day I will be free of it….I need to tell you that when I found your YT channel, I had been listening to many of John Macs teachings…it really felt like truth… then you showed me the biggest lie I had ever heard and it came right out of his mouth with barely a hesitation.. I was shocked…how could I have been so wrong?…but when 98% is true, it’s very hard to sift thru but this lie was so huge it completely invalidated everything else that came from him… I followed a link someone left in the comments on the channel and was shocked to discover this deep dive someone did on him and his summer camp and it’s Druidic origins ( it’s a whole book on it) I don’t have the link handy but it’s in a reply to another comment under one of the J Mac vids you did… Thankyou so very much Josh for being so brave to call out these people… BTW why would any Christian name their revival
“ thunderstruck”. It’s a huge AC/DC song… I wonder if they played that pumping intro before the service?…you have helped my eyes open and God has allowed me to see more truth than ever before…we are so easily deceived it scares me but I can trust God and thru his servants like you become aware of the 1% or 2% of the insidious lies they sprinkle thru their teaching that leads so many away…we must never forget that who was once Gods favorite angel is no dummy, and only thru Gods guidance can we avoid the lies of that “master deceiver”..
Sorry this post got so long but I just had to thankyou for all the work you do and to let others know that what we suffer here on earth is only temporary and whatever happens to our “ meat suit “ doesn’t ever have to touch our soul.
Much Love Josh,
To Nancy, my name is Kenneth. I will keep you in my prayers. It’s quite obvious that you are going thru alot. May God bless and keep you– and I know He will. Be strong and take care of yourself. From a brother to my sister in Christ Jesus. Kenneth
Hi Nancy. God bless you.
This subject alone can serve as a litmus test for anyone claiming to truly love and serve Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Not only does this Truth annihilate any disillusionment caused by false prosperity gospels and the subtle infiltration of new age heresies; but it will indeed separate the wheat from the chaff… the hot from the lukewarm.
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7
Hi Joshua, I found the link to that deep dive on j Mac…I have only made it thru a few chapters and I started with chapter 7, “ John MacArthur ‘s Druid Festival “… I read on for a while then went to the beginning…You May be familiar with this but if not here is the link
“ Watch-unto-prayer.org/MacArthur-7-Druid-festival.html “…Please don’t share this until you have had a chance to vet it properly….
I also want to add that because I’m unable to travel to church, I do have one dear friend I study with and my two absolute favorites online are Chuck Missler and Russ Dizdar…..
As I have mentioned before, you have allowed me to not take any teachings for granted, but search the scriptures diligently/daily for the truth…I know Jesus said that first but sometimes we all need a reminder….I did….please, don’t post this yet because I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for your blog (you can post or talk about…or not…anything I have written wherever you see fit) but I did want to tell you that I went to the twins of evil concert with Marilyn and Zombie…growing up at a time when all the shows “like Alice Cooper” were just entertainment and a fun stage show, we never took any of those bands seriously, just fun….well I have to share the point I was so sickened at twins of evil that I had to walk out…Marilyn has a song that he had the whole crowd chanting at the top of their lungs…he had everyone shout “10” after he shouted “SAY”. So the thousands of people there rose a shout so high to “SAY-TEN” I was sick over it…did a lil research and found that he has satans symbol on one hand and the FBI reported sign for little girl lover on his other hand…both permently tattooed there…also Anton Lavey did make him a priest probably 20 years ago…these shows are no longer entertainment (maybe they never were) they are indoctrination/worship ceremonies…it’s so sad, and sickening for all the new (thought to be cool) “pagans and witches” who were never taught any better, to be used to actually worship God s enemy….
Thankyou for your time,
Nancy….p.s. my iPhone will never automatically capitalize God on my autofill , it will only give me gods or goddesses so after I posted my last comment, I had to go back and correct all kinds of stuff, sorry I had to send this twice.
Joshua, I really think it would be a nice gesture if u could reply to Nancy and give her a word of encouragement. She speaks so highly of u.she is struggling with stage 4 cancer. She replied 2 ‘God appoints suffering for his names sake’. I just know it would make her day if she heard from u. Please don’t approve this message of course. F.y.i.-my e-mail starts with ken lucy- thats my parents. I am single.I only use a tablet thru wi-fi. 4 some reason I want u 2 know a smidget about who ur hearing from. U have enlightened me to scriptural truth that I never realised. And I GREATLY thank u 4 that! Gonna suggest 2 elders at the assembly this morning 2 listen 2 ‘false church system deception’ & What is the Church. I gotta do my part for the glory of God 2 undo hundreds of years of false tradition worship if possible. I gotta try. Please keep teaching accurate scripture truth. U have my undivided attention. With pure love Kenneth
Hi Kenneth…Thankyou so much for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, that is so kind… I’m not sure if anyone understood what i was really trying to say with my slightly scatter brained post…suffering is not always punishment….if I was not given this disease to suffer, I don’t believe I ever would have gotten this close to Jesus again, that’s why it’s posted under suffering….I have never prayed for healing, although that would seem the natural thing to do…it seems to me that this must be an important lesson that my soul needs to experience…so I pray for peace which God has graciously honored and this allows me to endure everything being done to me…when I was diagnosed in March of 2015, I was given 3-7 months (just throw a dart at me and you would pretty much hit a chunk of cancer.)….I hope you can see how God has held me in his hand and taught me to value my soul over this flawed vehicle that it travels thru this world in…before this happened my prayer life was pretty sad but now I find myself talking to God all the time….seems I’m always telling him how sorry I am for staying away so long and pleading with him to remember me because although I know him, does he know me? When you are this close to the gate, it seems like this is the most important question and tho I’ve gone thru much to really see this, not everyone has to…He told us no one knows the day or hour…be on guard…please…while there is still time…I just happened to get the kick that my hour is closer than I would have thought,( that is a blessing because I could have been lost) but this is true for all of us…Jesus can come at any time…he put the brakes on my life to drive that point home…with out this “suffering”, I’m sure I would have gone on thinking “ oh I have plenty of time to return “..:. We get busy, we get comfortable, we forget to talk to God daily….please let my story remind you that time is very short, don’t put off till tomorrow what you should be doing today…and remember to talk to God often…I understand that on a deep level God knows of me but I have such a deep need to know that God really knows who I am as a child of his and not just “ yes I know of that creature” …this is what my “suffering” has done for me, no making deals, no begging to be cured, it’s just not as important as being once again a cherished child of my loving Father….Kenneth, I will also keep you in my prayers. (and Josh you too)
Much love, Nancy
Nancy, Do you have a Church family? If not, seek this out. Perhaps call a local church. Explain your situation. Loving support from Christians directly involved in your life is needed. Don’t go it alone. Prayers & Cares. KENNETH
Hi Nancy. Your post really touched me. My soul aches for you. I just wanted to give you a comfortable and innocent ” I love you!” The spirit of God tells me that he knows you very well. Remember the glory that awaits us! No more pain, no more suffering, no more tears.
Nancy, put you on EVERY prayer list could possibly think of. In regards to the darkside you mentioned, teams of people are working at exposing so live in: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just whatsoever things are pure , whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8.” and Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the LORD”, “Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, ad shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”. Put on Praise and Worship and CD’s of the WORD; my personal favorites: Revival in Belfast/Come Heal Our Land by Robin Mark; Even, So Come by Kevin Prosch, I Bow Down by Daphne Rademaker and the Hungry CD. Doing the Clarion Call for prayer for you.
Thankyou so much for all the prayers you’re sending my way…
I just got great news on my bone marrow biopsy and my scans too..
God has a plan and He is amazing!!
Please thank your prayer chain for me and thank God for His grace and mercy…
Much love and many blessings,
I was greatly encouraged by this post. Thank you for taking the time and effort to write it Joshua.
I am blessed to hear it. Thank God. I pray you continue to be edified in truth through whatever you find here. God bless you.
bless you joshua for sharing this study which is not a common sermon subject.
it was only with jesus that he suffered alone. his disciples left him, and finally on the cross, god departed from him.
but we, saved by jesus blood, are never alone in our sufferings. as he was with his disciples through their joys and sufferings, he will be with us. we can only bear sufferings not through our will and strength abut through the strength he gives us, by the power of the holy spirit.