“I’m done with God.” “No one will ever understand.” “I’m never trusting anyone again.” “I can’t pray.” “I won’t pray.” I’ve heard all of these statements from people in the midst of suffering. The unrelenting blows of suffering can twist our hearts away from God.
Satan has purposes for your life. Satan has intentions for your suffering.
When you face suffering, remember that the enemy intends to use your suffering to draw you away from God. When Peter warns us of the work of the enemy, he cautions, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy is not to be taken lightly. He desires to devour you.
The context of this warning is worth noting. Peter continues, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9). The enemy is prowling around those who are suffering. Like a wounded animal, when we suffer, the enemy smells blood.
Satan has used this blunt instrument since Job, and he uses it today. Don’t be ignorant of what the enemy wants to do with your suffering.
Satan intends for your suffering to cause you to:
1) LOSE TRUST IN GOD.
The enemy wants to shut down your communication with God. He wants you to turn inward for answers or to the counsel of the world. He doesn’t want you to pour out your heart to God. He doesn’t want you to cry out to God. He doesn’t want you to speak your frustration and disappointment to God. He doesn’t want you to seek out scripture for truth and consolation. He wants you to stuff your hurt, he wants the wound to become infected.
2) LEAVE GOD’S PEOPLE.
One of Satan’s favorite lies is to tell us that no one understands: no one understands our temptation, no one understands our pain, no one understands what we are going through. Like lions separate weak prey from the pack, Satan loves to isolate the injured. He will tell you that you don’t need to go to your small group; it would be better to self-medicate with Netflix or scroll social media. He will tell you that you will be judged. The enemy’s lies take root best in the soil of the Christian disconnected from community, separated from fellowship, and not regularly listening to the exposition of the Word.
If the enemy can turn everything sour in your mouth, he all but has you. The serpent slid sin through the crack of ingratitude in the Garden. If Eve could be ungrateful for the one tree withheld from her, they would succumb to the poison leaking from the serpent’s fangs. If Satan can get us to believe that our suffering represents God’s malevolent intentions, then it poisons everything from his hand. Look at the tentacled nature of Israel’s grumbling hearts in the desert. Once they grumbled about being led out into the wilderness (Ex 14:11-12), the grumbling spread everywhere (water (Ex 15:24), food (Ex 16:2, 7-9), manna (Num 11:1-6), death and slavery (Num 14:2, 27-37), leadership (Num 17:5-10). Our grumbling is no different. Once our heart sours on one thing, unless our ingratitude is rooted out, we will sour on everything.
The good news is that evil one’s intentions show us the road map for how to navigate suffering well. In our suffering, God invites us to trust him deeper, draw nearer to his people, and find a deep well of gratitude. We can draw closer to God’s heart in “the valley of the shadow of death” when we fix our eyes on he who suffered for our sake.
I am sure you have met a saint who has refused Satan’s path of suffering and chosen God’s path instead. You know the depth of their wisdom, the grace of their gentleness, their Christlike humility. You long to become like this, don’t you? I do.
The question isn’t whether we will suffer or not. It will. When suffering comes, choose to walk in God’s purposes, not the enemy’s.