Beyond the Series: Truths on Suffering and Raising a Godly Family

Beyond the Series: Truths on Suffering and Raising a Godly Family

As the Wordview series comes to a close, we took time to sit down with Pastor Ariel Marquez of Victory Alabang to hear about the Word in action in his life. In this article, he shares his experiences from more than three decades of walking with God and reading the Word.

How did you learn to devote yourself to the Word?

I’m thankful that when I was a young Christian, there were disciples in church who taught me about the Word. It wasn’t just one pastor. Pastor Steve Murrell was the first one who sat down with me to disciple me, but there were also other people who taught me devotion to the Word. These include my friends from church who helped me and my brother Bernard how to read, journal, and devote ourselves to the Bible. That was my first experience of being devoted to the Word.

Can you share verses from Scripture that made a huge impact in your worldview?

“There is an assurance that you can go through life and have stability because of the Word.”

Psalm 1 is so meaningful for me. It starts with: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When it comes to looking at the world, the question is, “Where do I get my idea, my counsel, or my perspective?”

You’ll see two ways in this chapter—the way of the world and the way of the Word. The first way is a progression of destruction. It shows the pattern of people agreeing with the ways of the world. The Bible says in Romans 12 that we should not be conformed to the world’s ways.

The other way in Psalm 1 talks about one who meditates on the Word day and night, who is likened to a tree. When I heard this passage, I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be always fresh, flourishing, and bearing fruit. The picture in the psalm is a tree planted by streams of water. There is an assurance that you can go through life and have stability because of the Word. The promise in Psalm 1 helped me when we lost our son in 2003. It was one of the darkest moments in our family.

Our son, Jerome, got sick in October 2003. Two months after, he passed away. It was very quick because tuberculous meningitis is aggressive. We were in and out of the hospital for two months while our son had five surgeries. With all these things, you’ll definitely be shaken. It will shake you to the core. I had what I called a “faith quake.” At that time, I asked myself, “Who do I hang on to?” I’m so glad that the Word was there to sustain us. I have a strong wife, but situations like these test a marriage.

I know a couple who ended up going their separate ways because they couldn’t handle the pain of loss in a similar situation. In our case, it was really the Word that brought stability to our marriage. The book of Job helped me during that time. When Job lost everything, he said this statement, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Instead of Job blaming God, he blessed God. This became pivotal for us. We were a young couple in our early thirties then. Jerome was only eight years old, and Bea was almost twelve, but we were able to go through all that and still hang onto God’s promises. It helped us have a different perspective on suffering.

When people come into a relationship with God, blessings and eternal life are usually what they have in mind. Many expect a good life. Yes, that’s part of our relationship with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life and have it to the full (John 10:10). But, sometimes, people misinterpret this and think it means no more problems, no more sicknesses, and no more sufferings in life. Remember that Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” It came from His mouth. The book of Job gives us a new perspective on suffering and encourages us that we can serve God in the midst of that. In suffering or pain, you can find your purpose. Jesus, the founder of Christianity Himself, went to the cross for us and suffered so much. Knowing these truths from the Bible helped me go through that difficult time.

“Suffering is part of the completion of our character in Christ.”

If ever a person or a family goes through a situation of suffering, don’t be surprised. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Suffering is part of the completion of our character in Christ. You can’t forge gold without fire. You can’t make a pot without going through heat. I think this is what I learned most from Job.

God is faithful. He won’t let you go through life without blessing. At the end of Job’s life, you can see the blessing of God. The story of Job gives you a holistic view of life. When we receive blessing, we praise God. When there’s none, we usually question God’s faithfulness. If you’re going through a good experience, you think God is good. What if you’re going through suffering or pain? Is God not good? The right answer is God is still good.

How do you devote yourself to the Word of God every day?

You have to find ways to make the Word fresh and like a novelty. I’ve been a Christian for 31 years. If you’re someone like me who has been reading the Word regularly, you have to find ways to be creative in reading it. When I start the year, I sometimes take on new Bible reading guides. I also buy a new version of the Bible. I just change the versions for my devotion. But for study, of course, I use the English Standard Version. I separate my study time for preaching from devotion time for myself. I study because I’m a pastor, and I read the Bible because I’m a Christian. That’s different. If I weren’t a pastor, I would still read and study the Word. Since I’m a pastor, I do both.

“The Word you’re reading right now will not only have an impact in your life. It will create a ripple effect in generations after yours.”

What inspires me? My children. Deuteronomy 6 tells us about impressing the Word on our kids. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  You’re not the only one who benefits from the Word you read. I know my kids will think, “Is my dad living it out?” This is my inspiration. My family is the one who is following my leadership. My children and the people I’m discipling continually inspire me to devote myself to the Word.

Whatever you have in your heart, impress them on others. The Word you’re reading right now will not only have an impact in your life. It will create a ripple effect in generations after yours. This is probably my main inspiration. If I fail in the home, no amount of success in the ministry can compensate for my failure. When it comes to the Word and love and passion for God, I would rather see my kids passionate for God first before the Victory group leaders in church. I always ask, “How’s my family? Are they walking with God? Are they loving the Word?” My home will validate my ministry.


Pastor Ariel Marquez is the senior pastor of Victory Alabang. He is happily married to Shirley, and they have three daughters—Bea, Anna, and Andrea.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series. For our Wordview series, we also sat down with Bishop Manny Carlos to talk about devotion to the Word.

Beyond the Series: Why Personal Devotion Is Essential to a Christian Life

Beyond the Series: Why Personal Devotion Is Essential to a Christian Life

For the past weeks, through our series, Wordview, we at Victory have been learning about the Word of God and how it shapes our worldview. In this interview, Victory chairman Bishop Manny Carlos shares how his worldview was personally shaped by the Word, and discusses how a daily habit of reading the Bible can transform lives the way that it transformed his.

Bishop Manny, what is a worldview?

“A worldview is the way you perceive and make sense of the world around you.”

A worldview is the way you perceive and make sense of the world around you. All of us grow up having a worldview. It’s a combination of what we’re taught in our families, our schools, our churches, and through our own experiences. A worldview is something that is developed over the course of one’s life and shapes one’s values. It is like a set of lenses through which you view life and reality. If you’re wearing sunglasses that have a yellow tint, everything you see will be tinted yellow. If you change the tint of your sunglasses to blue, then everything has a hue of blue. That’s what a worldview is. It’s a set of lenses that basically colors the way you see the world.

How did the Word of God shape your worldview?

The Word of God brings a counter-imagination to what is prevalent in the world. A biblical worldview enables you to see the world from God’s perspective. If we are to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God, then we want to develop a biblical worldview, which is how God sees the world we live in.

“The Word of God does not just inform us or conform us to a standard. It has the power to transform our lives and change us into a whole new person.”

When I committed my life to Christ, I began to be exposed to the Bible. Yes, I started to go to church, but my thinking and values were not aligned to His Word in many ways. My worldview began to change as I read, meditated on, believed, and obeyed the Word. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Word of God does not just inform us or conform us to a standard. It has the power to transform our lives and change us into a whole new person.

I experienced this, but it didn’t happen instantaneously. God changed my heart and desires. I used to live for my own dreams and visions, and I had my life pretty much planned out for myself. I wanted to be in the corporate world and succeed there. But as I devoted myself to the Word of God, I grew in my relationship with Him. Eventually, I heard the call of God to be a minister of the gospel. He changed my desire to live for my own dreams into desiring to live for His dreams.

The Word of God also changed the way I understood His purpose for relationships, such as marriage and family. It helped me prepare not just for the call of God in my life, but also to be a husband and a father who honors God. It also made me see my family as a great blessing. I learned that we can serve God together and fulfill His purpose, because God has purposes not just for individuals but also for families. The Word also helped me to see the church as a spiritual community, and that it is the instrument that advances His kingdom on earth. All of these things came from the Word of God. It changed the whole way I view my life. Apart from God’s Word, we will not understand His plan for humanity, society, and the world.

How did you develop a devotion to God’s Word?

Somebody taught me to live a life of prayer and meditating on the Word. I’m combining both because these are the main spiritual habits that God wants us to develop. Left to ourselves, we can’t develop either. We need others to model it for us.

The classic example of this is the disciples themselves. In the Bible, Jesus was approached by His disciples, who asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 

Prayer and meditating on God’s Word are not something you automatically learn by yourself. You need someone to help you. That is why discipleship is key to developing your devotional habits. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began by saying, “This is how you should pray.” He gave the model prayer. We learn not just by being informed, but by being mentored. When I began to walk with God, there were several people who helped me learn about prayer and reading the Word. These included my discipleship group leader, pastors, and friends. However, it is the Holy Spirit who will ultimately help us develop the habit and give us understanding of His Word, for He is our teacher who leads and guides us into all truth.

“Careful meditation leads to careful obedience, which brings success.”

I start my personal time with God by reading His Word. In my early years as a Christian, I read more than a chapter a day and used materials such as Bible reading calendars and Bible study guides like The Purple Book. When I didn’t know how to study the Bible by myself and was not yet familiar with the Word, these foundational books helped me. They helped me go through different Scriptures, and developed in me the discipline of writing Scripture down. Writing Scriptures helps you learn the habit of getting into the Word.

Over the course of time, I’ve been able to read through the Bible. I usually don’t finish the entire Bible in one year. I don’t read for the sake of reading. I read to reflect and meditate. Meditation enables the Word to take root in your soul and in your mind. Careful meditation leads to careful obedience, which brings success.

Why should we devote ourselves to God’s Word?

“The reason we engage with the Word of God is to grow in our relationship with Him.”

God wants to have a relationship with you. That’s the starting point. God already took the initiative to bring you to Him. He already made the effort to draw you near. God wants to commune with you, and desires to teach you and instruct you in His ways. A relationship with God is the motivation. He wants to communicate with us and reveal His will for our lives. This is why reading the Word is not an obligation.

In devoting yourself to the Word, you can’t read without praying. You can’t pray without reading. God’s Word propels you into communion with Him. The Word of God is more than the renewing of the mind. It helps us to be spiritually nourished and strengthened to walk in faith and obedience to His Word, enabling us to fulfill His purpose for our lives. When you commune with God through prayer, He often brings back to remembrance that which you have read in His Word. He communicates with you, and you communicate with Him. The reason we engage with the Word of God is to grow in our relationship with Him.


Bishop Manny Carlos is the chairman of Victory, a church with multiple locations in Metro Manila and over ninety churches in the provinces.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series. For our Wordview series, we also sat down with Pastor Ariel Marquez to talk about devotion to the Word; be sure to visit our website next week to read his interview.