Much of our spirituality is shown by how we respond to suffering. When Christians suffer they cling to God. When Non-Christians suffer, they curse God. This reality is seen in Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments.
The Prophet Jeremiah spoke of the people of Judah who were committing rampant and vile sins against God. Jeremiah, speaking on God’s behalf, calls them to repentance, promises them bountiful blessings (both spiritual and physical), and warns them of judgment that will come if they continue to stiff-arm the one true God. Yet, stiff-arm they do. They are called to walk in God’s ways and they respond: “We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16 NASB) They are called to listen to God and the warnings of judgment, and they respond: “We will not listen.” (Jeremiah 6:17 NASB) And when the judgment finally comes, do they repent and turn to God? No…they curse Him.
The same principal is seen in the New Testament book of Revelation. As the wrath of God rains down upon the earth in the form of natural disasters, famine, sickness, darkness, and pain; the people do a lot of things in response to God’s wrath. They gnaw their tongues (Revelation 16:10). They long for death (Revelation 9:6). And yes, inexplicably…they curse the God who can save them. The Apostle John wrote: “They blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:9 NASB)
What drives such fierce, stubborn, and evil levels of hatred towards God? A heart hardened by years of accepting, living, and glorying in sin. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19 NASB)
The sad reality is that what was spoken of by Jeremiah and John in Scripture is very much alive and well today. Many people embrace sin, and eventually suffer the consequences of that sin; then curse God when it happens. An unrepentant heart that responds to God in anger when judged for sin is a sure sign of a Non-Christian. And on the flip side, a heart that responds to God’s judgment with brokenness and repentance is a sure sign of a Christian with a “born again” and “Spirit-filled” heart.
That’s not to say that Christians will always immediately repent when convicted of sin. Sometimes they fight it. Sometimes they deny it. Sometimes they run. But the true believer will always, eventually cling to…rather than curse the Lord whom they love. Not so with the unbeliever.
So which are you? How do you respond to suffering? Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? If not, then the suffering you experience in this life pales in comparison to the eternal suffering you will face in Hell. If you are a follower of Christ, then cling to Him when you suffer and rejoice in the fact that a perfect world awaits you, once the suffering of this present world is over.