Perpetual Happiness – The Devil’s Trap – Part 1

I decided to start this Christian Blog with a subject we can all relate to; “Pain and Suffering and the Pursuit of Perpetual Happiness”. I decided upon this subject after coming to the conclusion that, in my own life, perpetual happiness has never been possible, and I’ve since learned, neither was it desirable. That “neither desirable” part is what surprised me. It didn’t feel natural to not want perpetual happiness but it was what most closely resembled how life on our fallen world works. If that is our reality, we must learn to work within those confines. God can turn anything for good but He needs you to trust Him. Satan is responsible for all the sickness, death, hatred, envy and worst of all pride, on this earth. It was not God’s original plan for us to live amongst the evil and He’s working on fixing it. Don’t blame Him. He’s on our side and working with us. He wouldn’t have put His own Son through what He did if reconciling evil wasn’t “a bit involved”. Whenever anything bad is happening to you, whenever a loved one is victimized or ends up with a terminal illness, you can lay it all at Satan’s feet. We must trust, that in the midst of suffering, God is making all suffering work for good while He is dealing with the devil. People are not the enemy, but when we blame God for the works of the devil, we are doing the devil’s work.

Jesus loved people, He just hated sin. We have to do the same and not fail to identify the real enemy who cloaks himself as your neighbor, the guy in traffic and the bully at school. Satan is behind every evil act and he’s desperately trying to convince you that God has abandoned you in your trials.Drawing of Jesus

Ephesians 6:12 KJV says;

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

God allows evil to exist and is telling us who the enemy is and specifically tells us how to fight the evil as in Ephesians 6:10-18 below;

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

It becomes clear that we need to learn how to combat this spiritual enemy. The devil places people masquerading as enemies in front of us to divert our attention away from the source. We must combat the source. Pain and suffering will be part of any battle and if we allow ourselves to be distracted by the pain, we’ll lose sight of the enemy. All the enemy needs is time to distract someone from the truth in order to devour their soul. All he needs is a diversion. Don’t create it for yourself.

the devil whispering amongst the flames

In understanding the Christian faith, it became clear that I needed to learn to deal with pain and suffering in order to fight the temptations that the enemy would throw in my lap. Anger, jealously, hatred, revenge, envy were all bi-products of pain and suffering. If I let the pain and suffering consume me, so would all the associated emotional states that would, in effect, paralyze me. They were all distractions that allowed the pain and suffering to consume me. God is trying to teach us how to save our souls and the souls of others. We have two choices when it comes to adversity; we can let it consume us and become as the devil wishes or, we can learn from it, in order to defeat the enemy.

You might ask; why doesn’t God just destroy evil instead of teaching us how to deal with it? Because if He ended all evil now, any unbelievers, still lost in their sin, would end up being destroyed as well. God wants no one to be lost. We are all born in sin and must be reborn in the spirit, learn to deal with pain and suffering, put on the full armor of God and go to battle.

The Meaning Behind Pain & Suffering 

If I think back before I became a Christian, my life had been like a giant hand that kept getting splinters in it and, each time, the splinters had to be pulled out, each time it was painful. Some splinters were larger and hurt more than others, they always bled, and I never seemed to learn to put gloves on to prevent it from happening in the first place. The pattern just kept repeating itself and each time, I was upset that, I’d done it again, and each time I struggled through the cutting and pulling to remove the splinters. I finished the extractions with the expected, “woe is me” along with, “I hope this doesn’t befall me again”. The repetition came from my focusing on my misfortune rather than on the lesson I was supposed to learn from being stuck with the wood.

But then it struck me; instead of complaining about getting splinters in my hand, why not just put gloves on? I had learned, through the mistakes and the pain, to solve the problem of the splinter-collecting-hands. I was then able to tell others who were handling lumber also, not to forget their gloves. Between me and the crew, we had a “splinter-free” existence. Because of my getting splinters, others were prevented from the same peril. From switching from “woe is me” to “what’s the lesson here?” I was able to move past the problem and help others and even feel somewhat grateful for the opportunity to suffer and gain the wisdom necessary to move forward.

Applying this simplistic analogy to life isn’t such a stretch. It’s a bit harder to accept depending on the extent of the pain and suffering one is going through and whether it’s a long lasting condition or even a permanent one but, it applies all the same. It applies much more if you understand the Christian faith. The “name-it-and-claim-it” Christian won’t agree with this but it’s biblically accurate. God allows pain and suffering in your life and He works it for good. He does this whether you believe it or not. The “name-it-and-claim-it” Christian will say that if one had more faith that he or she would be cured or that he or she never would have had the problem in the first place. They sometimes tell you that if he or she would just ask to not have the problem, and asked with faith, they would get their wish. Then they follow up by quoting a few verses about moving mountains, or the mustard seed, (out of context of course), and say, “see?”

God is not a genie in a bottle that you rub when you need something. Nor is He a cosmic vending machine. He does not work for you, you work for Him.

My claim that the Christian life is fraught with pain and suffering can be backed up using the most influential and relevant men and women in the Bible. From the apostles to the prophets, to Job; there are no exceptions.

If Paul could have “named-it-and-claimed-it”, don’t you think he might have asked for a few less floggings? Or to leave out that pesky stoning or even the three times he was shipwrecked? How about that final beheading? Are you going to tell me that Paul needed more faith? How about Jesus Himself in the garden of gethsemane? He asked the Father that if there was any other way, could He take the cup from Him? When the Father said no, did that mean Jesus needed more faith and He would have said yes? If God the Father can put His own Son on a cross to suffer when He was completely innocent of any sin in His life in order to accomplish His plan, what do you think He’s going to allow for you and me in order to accomplish what He wants in, and, for us?

We Are in a Spiritual War

What happens when the pain in incurable and becomes part of everyday life? How do we face perpetual pain when we’re in search of perpetual happiness? We can start with realizing that it is not God’s goal for us here to be perpetually happy. It is His goal that we know Him, love Him, and share the good news of the gospels and redemption and salvation with as many people as possible, no matter what the cost. When the game is over, we can all celebrate but, for now, we have to tend to the battle at hand. At this point, you might be asking why God didn’t just create a world without pain and suffering or evil? Theologians and philosophers have answered that question, centuries ago. A world with free will is the only world possible in order for true, freely given love, to exist.

I’ve learned that there are two types of pain we go through. One is the type that no matter how emotionally or physically hard it is, it’s not life threatening. This is easier to deal with. The other one is when you have pain that inevitably, is life threatening. These are two completely different hurdles. It’s very difficult to talk to someone who has a terminal illness and tell them to “buck it up”. You can explain from an apologetic position or you can explain from the position of a pastor on more of an emotional level. It is not always appropriate to speak apologetics when someone has lost a child or a spouse they’ve been married to for half-a-century. There is a time to grieve, collect yourself, be consoled and pray. There is also a time to quote apologetics. They seldom overlap. Know this and allow yourself or others this freedom and needed time of mourning.apocalypse angels

We are in a spiritual war and the devil is real, he’s intelligent, and he’s relentless and he’s got a host of fallen angels to help him execute his directive. There is no shortage of a labor force for the devil and his demons work day and night, 24/7. They don’t need to rest or sleep. They are constantly after you and me. When you become a Christian, you’re a bigger threat and things tend to get worse, not better, while on this earth.

A.W. Tozer said; “God cannot use someone greatly until He has hurt them deeply.”  Chuck Swindoll said; “I’ve learned to never trust anyone who has not gone through serious pain in his or her life.” And C.S. Lewis said, with a touch of humor; “What do people mean when they say they’re not afraid of God because He’s good? Have they never been to the dentist?”

All these quotes collectively say to the Christian, “buckle up, life’s not going to be easy and the devil’s gunning for you”.

Do you agree that our army, navy, air force, marines and special forces should all be trained to the highest degree in order to survive the battles necessary to protect our country? Do you believe the police and swat teams should be trained well in order to protect our communities? If you do, then God bringing about trials in your life to train, shape, and hone your character in order to battle the enemy is going to make more sense. God cannot use you if everything in your life has been “peachy”. In other words, if you’ve had no trials, no pain, no adversity and whenever something goes wrong, you blame God. With an easy life, you cannot serve as an example to anyone nor help them through a problem in life that you know nothing about.

God doesn’t promise us an easy life when we become a Christian; He promises us a way to salvation and has told us to pick up our cross and carry it. Jesus told us to follow Him, in the most uncomfortable sense of the word. As Christians, we have a responsibility to do that.

For this blog post I wanted to make it clear that pain and suffering serves a purpose and you have to find it. You also have to learn to recognize pain and suffering for what it is and that every biblically significant individual suffered, sometimes greatly. If God allows suffering in your life it’s because He has a plan for you and sees something in you that you don’t. The apostles and prophets kept their eyes on the ball and fought off the distractions brought on by the enemy. If you strive and wish for perpetual happiness, you’re bringing a smile to the face of Satan. Now . . . whose side are you on?

If you’re still interested in this subject, I follow up on it in part 2.