The End of Suffering
With so much attention upon the working of the disciple’s cross in the Scriptures it would seem that God is opposed to pleasure, and intent upon making all of His children suffer while in the flesh. It is true that God does not want His children to give themselves over to a pursuit of pleasure, as is revealed in Paul’s words to Timothy.
I Timothy 5:6
Whereas she who lives in pleasure and self-gratification [giving herself up to luxury and self-indulgence] is dead even while she [still] lives.
However, pleasures in themselves are not evil. In one of David’s Messianic Psalms we read:
In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
There is a place for pleasure and a place for suffering. There is a time and a season for all things as the author of Ecclesiastes states in a beautiful poetic form.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.
God has not chosen one thing over another. He has not chosen suffering over pleasure. Rather, He has an appointed time and place for all things. I am convinced that in God’s plan of the ages that there will ultimately be much more pleasure than sorrow and suffering, but in this particular age in which we live suffering is appointed unto men. Suffering must come before pleasure as the words of the book of Revelation declare.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.“
Weeping and death and mourning and crying and pain are “the first things.” The creation has been subjected to such pain and futility until the sons of God should come to maturity. Apart from this suffering the overcomers in Christ could not be perfected and brought to the fulness of the stature of Christ. It is impossible for man to be perfected through pleasure. Wisdom is not learned, nor holiness attained, by giving oneself to pleasure. These things are only won through many trials, temptations and pains. Solomon spoke of the superiority of sorrow over pleasure in this life.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy. The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Sorrow is appointed unto the saints in this age, but this sorrow will eventually give way to great joy. The sorrow we must know is not a meaningless sorrow, but it has a great aim in mind. The title of this chapter bears a double meaning. There will be an end of suffering one day as John wrote when he said that the first things will one day have passed away. There is also an end of suffering in the sense that there is a goal and final object to which it points. Yahshua hinted at this “end,” or goal, of suffering with His following words.
Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a man has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
When speaking of the suffering and sorrow of the saints Yahshua used the illustration of a woman being in labor. There is great pain in labor, but it precedes great joy. The joy is such that the former pain is not even remembered, and so it will also be with the saints. At this time we will know sorrow, but we must keep the end in sight. This present sorrow is for the purpose of bringing forth a man into the world. It is for the purpose of producing a full stature man child after the image and likeness of God.
Even as God revealed in the first book of the Bible His desire for the man and woman to rule over the beast nature, He also revealed to them that they would have sorrow, but that this sorrow would lead to the birthing of a man who would bear the image of the divine. All of these things are signified in the very first words of Scripture.
After Adam and Eve sinned, Yahweh spoke to them and told them what the world would be like until man should be redeemed and come to a full reflection of His divine nature. To the woman He spoke the following.
To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
Let us take each line of the above verse and look at them individually to see what they signify. God said to Eve, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception.” Certainly we know that this is true in the physical realm, for the woman has tremendous pain in the process of child birth. We need to consider what this means spiritually as well. Yahweh was declaring in the presence of the man and the woman that mankind would only be able to give birth to godly offspring, offspring in the image and likeness of God by multiplying their sorrow. God was not punishing the man and woman by multiplying their sorrow. God knew that sorrow was the only way in which sinful man could be transformed from the beastly image he had chosen, in order to be brought to a divine reflection of the perfected Christ.
The next line states, “In pain you shall bring forth children.” A woman is often uncomfortable during her pregnancy, and she may experience backaches, nausea and other discomforts which can be quite severe at times. But the greatest pain is in the birthing process when she begins to experience contractions. The world has yet to see mankind come to a fulness of the stature of Christ. They have seen only one Man who has yet been perfected through suffering and who was the perfect image and likeness of God. Yet it is God’s will that many sons should come forth after the image of Christ. The birthing of these sons will be attended with great pain. Yahshua spoke of the days preceding the revealing of these full stature sons of God in this way:
And Yahshua answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
What Yahshua describes here to His disciples is very terrible and it speaks of great sorrow and much pain. He uses once more the imagery of birth pangs for a reason. These tribulations will precede the revealing of the full stature sons of God, and all those who enter into this adoption as sons will have forgotten the things they suffered when they enter into the glory of Christ. As Paul said, “For I consider that these present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in us.”
Saints, God’s desire, from the very creation of man in the Garden of Eden, has been that man might bear His image and likeness. God will fulfill His desire, and the earth will see these sons who will come forth after the image of God. They will share His glory and manifest His image. They will be the spirit and image of God.
It is impossible for these sons to be revealed apart from suffering and pain. Mankind must pass through the first things in order to attain to the high calling of God. As the words of the song declare, “Some through the fire, Some through the flood, Some through great sorrow, But all through the blood.” There is only one way in which to attain to the will of God that man should be formed in his image and after His likeness. The flesh must be crucified that the beast nature might give way to the divine. In the book of Revelation we read of the birth of these full stature sons of God.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
The woman, who is the church, is depicted as in labor and in pain to give birth. This birth is that which she was chosen by Christ to accomplish. This birth will be the great fulfillment and highest attainment of her life. What joy it will be when the church, who has so long been barren, finally produces children in the very image and likeness of her Husband who is the Lord Yahshua the Messiah.
The next line of this verse from Genesis states that the woman’s desire will be for her husband. The husband that is spiritually signified here is Christ. Even though her desire for her husband will lead her to experience pain, there have been, and continue to be, those who still desire Him. Even the pain of bringing forth children after His image will not turn these ones away.
The last line states, “And he will rule over you.” What glorious things this points to. What is in view here is not some domination by a tyrant, but the advent of the kingdom of God. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” should be the desire and passion of all the saints. Yes, gladly do we choose for Christ to rule over us! May the beast be cast down and may Christ arise as Lord over all areas of our lives.
We may look at the church today and see her barrenness. We may behold all those who name the name of Christ who are far from manifesting the image of the divine. But the seed of Christ has been sown, and it has been taking shape in hidden places out of sight from the eyes of mankind. One day soon a birth will take place and the world will be amazed to witness the revealing of this overcoming company who have attained to the image and likeness of God.
Christ suffered many things in His life, and through His sufferings He was perfected. As the saints join in the suffering of Christ they too will be perfected and be brought to the image of God. This message is revealed in numerous Scriptures.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation…
“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Even as it was necessary for the Son of God to suffer, so too those who would be conformed to His image must suffer. As you look at the church today what do you see? Do you see a message of suffering? Do you see all the saints embracing the working of the cross and coming to a greater reflection of Christ? Sadly, and tragically, these things are rare, and most of those who profess to be followers of Christ are not following Him at all. They are living for pleasure while seeking to avoid the suffering that must attend the formation and revealing of the image of God in mankind.
I think it is significant that there is such a great number of women who are aborting their babies in this day. In this is a picture of the church. John describes the church as a harlot, and like a harlot many women have sought out various lovers, and multitudes have become pregnant. Yet these women do not desire to experience the discomfort of pregnancy, or the pain of childbirth. In the same way the church seeks to avoid all that will bring her discomfort or pain. She wants to continue to enjoy the pleasure of her lovers, and she wants to appear attractive in a fleshly way. So she aborts, or casts out, all those sons that are growing to maturity within her womb, caring not whether they perish. She has not set her eyes upon the desires of the One to whom she is wed. She does not care to produce offspring after His likeness, but only wants to continue in her pleasures and her harlotry.
The wrath of God will surely come upon a people who so treacherously kill their offspring in order to live for pleasure, yet an even greater judgment is reserved for a church who has sold herself to wanton pleasure and who refuses to bring forth offspring after the image and likeness of Christ. A church who aborts all those who are growing and maturing within her and discards them as some piece of unwanted tissue.
Yet, Christ does have a remnant! So much is bound up in these words. Christ does have a remnant who have come out of the great harlot, and more are coming out every day. Great is the patience of God, and as eager as we may be to see the sons of God revealed, we should consider the patience of God to be salvation for many.
Can you see the great error of the church today? A multitude of saints are being turned away from the cross by ministers who tell them to enjoy a good life while awaiting being raptured to heaven. They are not told that they live in an age where suffering must be the portion of all who would be conformed to Christ. The Scriptures state:
II Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.
All! None are exempt! But many Christians have made themselves to be friends of the world. A world that lives for pleasure has no problem with Christians who also live for pleasure. As long as the Christians do not inhibit, or speak against, the wanton pursuit of pleasure that the world is set upon, the world will abide these carnal Christians. As the world grows darker and darker she applies pressure to the church to abide more and more darkness. Even homosexuals can find a place in a church that lives for pleasure, and which seeks to satisfy its appetites to the same extent as a lost and dying world.
But a remnant have set their eyes on higher things. A remnant fear God and understand that His wrath will be poured out upon those who shrink back from the cross set before them. A remnant are turning away from the pot of stew that could satisfy their raging appetite in order to attain to a glorious and unfading birthright that is the portion of the overcomers in Christ.
At this time we must have sorrow, but our sorrow will be turned to joy. At this time the world must hate us, but one day they will bow at the feet of the overcomers. For the joy set before Him Christ endured the cross and bore the shame. For the joy set before the overcomers in Christ they too will stay the course, and one day soon they will know such rejoicing that the former things will be forgotten.
Conformity to Christ, and being partakers of His glory, is the end, the goal, of this working of death and sorrow within us. With great assurance there is a far surpassing weight of glory that awaits all those who endure these momentary and light afflictions that Christ leads them through.
Selah, Pause and consider!
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