Suffering is often demonized in the current climate of “feel good” religious dogma. In an effort to attract more followers, leaders tend to over-emphasize the idea of pleasure and comfort afforded those who believe while neglecting or even rejecting the role of suffering. This is very dangerous. It leaves the sheep of God’s pasture vulnerable to the stalking predator who is seeking someone to attack.
“. . . Like a roaring lion our adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NRSV).
Spiritual leaders are responsible to equip believers to survive and thrive in the battle with the devil and his purposes. Those who are not aware of the strategic role of suffering in the Christian journey become easy prey for the prowling lion. In fact, neglecting the role of suffering contributes to the exodus many churches are experiencing. Many who turn their backs on the Christian message have been blindsided by trouble they were never equipped to expect and thus grow cynical about the entire message.