Valuable Insights 12 Perspective on Sufferings
Having a proper perspective (God’s point of view) on “sufferings” is vital to our continued walk of faith otherwise we will give up, or become an emotional wreck. Let us observe the following passage segments and receive some perspective.
Click here for the audio teaching, "God's Perspective on Sufferings" Clip 1
Galatians 4:8-11, (17-20)
Paul's Concern for the Galatians
“Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.
Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them. If someone is eager to do good things for you, that's all right; but let them do it all the time, not just when I'm with you. Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don't know how else to help you.” NLT
Speaking as their spiritual mother, Paul depicts in his letter his effort to give them rebirth into God's grace. Let us zoom in on verse 19. This could be a life changing verse for you. Galatians 4:19 reads, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” KJV
Keep in mind that Paul’s goal was that Christ would be formed in these Galatians. What is your goal? What do you believe God for? According to this passage, we will be in travail as we wait.
What does travail mean?
In the Greek “travail” builds the concept of feeling the pains of childbirth, or to be in pain as when a woman is in travail. The dictionary definition for the word “travail” is, “a work especially of a painful or laborious nature, toil, a physical or mental exertionor piece of work, task, effort, agony, torment.” Applied spiritually, Paul applies “travail” to himself, with respect to the Galatian converts.
Notice how the word “again” is used in verse 19. It seems to be a “continuation of travailing.” The Greek definition for the word “again” is “a marker of an additive relation involving repetition.”
Following are different versions of the same verse:
“My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ's nature is formed in you.” TEV
“Oh, my children, how you are hurting me! I am once again suffering for you the pains of a mother waiting for her child to be born-longing for the time when you will finally be filled with Christ.” TLB
What kinds of pains are in childbirth?
Stress (mental tension, pressure in one’s soul/ mind, will and emotions)
Nausea (effects our eating - body)
Knots in stomach
Our facial expressions even change
My wife Cheryl and I experienced (spiritual travail) recently. We believed God for something and as we waited we were in travail. We were in the spiritual labor room. The whole account of this particular travail was about one year in length. When the fulfillment arrived the travail ended. We felt like a new baby was born. Now we knew that maintenance would be required.
Note the word “Until” in Galatians 4:19. “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until (up to a certain point) Christ be formed in you.” KJV
Until we conform to the word of God we will continue to suffer more than we should, but by our own choosing. We will all experience suffering and it takes the word of God to maneuver through it. Which one will we choose: Godly suffering, or unnecessary suffering?
As we conform to the word we will not be perfect but we can do all we can with God’s help. There is no situation that God cannot handle. Consider the following verses:
"With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." RSV
“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” RSV
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.” RSV
The word “able” is a short word but it is remarkably powerful. “Able” in the Greek means to be powerful; to be mighty. Think of your travailing situation as we define the word “able”:
To be powerful
To be mighty
Having sufficient power or skill; resources to accomplish
High level of efficiency and ability
Watch the video on this page and listen to Louis Giglio: “How Great is our God” Part 1
(1) Proper perspective is huge when it involves people. Paul was like a mother to the Galatians (new converts).
(2) Paul experienced deep and tender feelings of a parent, and experienced travail like women in physical suffering.
(3) Paul’s pain would last until Christ’s nature is formed in these people, in other words, until the people are fully conformed to the word of God. This is the same for us in whatever we believe God for.
(4) Travail is not just a one-time experience for the believer. There will be a certain amount of travail, with degrees of stress and pain, involving every person we encounter.
(5) Travail should drive us to prayer. Something needs to be done.
(6) Travailing in our spirit for people will affect us mentally (Mind, will and emotions) and Physically (Spirit, soul and body).
(7) We can also experience travail on an individual basis.
(8) Travail ends in a given situation once God’s word is fulfilled. Then we go on to the next travail or suffering.
It is gain to understand this and accept the fact that we will suffer as Jesus did and be in travail or suffering throughout our lives here on earth (for yourself and others).
1 Peter 4:1
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought.” RSV
Greek definition for the word “arm”: to prepare; with focus upon the process of equipping. 'Prepare yourselves with the same insight' or 'get ready by having the same understanding.' (From Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain)
Even though we conform to Christ’s image we will not be perfect because of the many other hang-ups we have. When we travail it might seem impossible for God to deliver… God is able to deliver!
“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended.” RSV
“but my deliverance will be for ever, and my salvation to all generations." RSV
Be encouraged and practice proper perspective on suffering; this is crucial to our continued walk of faith. Without proper perspective we can become an emotional wreck. Understating causes the believer to be established.
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established (firm, fixed and stable); by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” RSV