Suffering with Purpose

SufferingThis is a sermon I gave Summer of 2018. I pray it serves you during these times! It is not heavily edited for those of you who are grammar and format nerds.

We have all had those times where we asked questions like:

  • Why Me?
  • Why Now?
  • What are you doing Lord?
  • Why aren’t you doing something about this Lord?
  • Why are they prospering and I am struggling?
  • Lord, please take this from me or them!

As we continue to live on this earth, these questions and requests will only increase. Or at least have opportunity to increase.

Before the church plant, members have lost children, undergone life threatening surgeries, experienced physical threats because of their faith, witnessed friends deaths for Christ.

Since this church has been in existence we have seen close family members pass away unexpectedly, chronic sickness, financial struggles, and have experienced relational heartache from people leaving in unloving ways to family strains to one family walking through a divorce. This is only the beginning.

In Christ, we are meant to struggle/suffer together. In Christ we realize that life is not about escaping discomfort, but pursuing Christ as our ultimate comfort, come what may!

So theses sermons are dedicated to the preparation of glorifying God during times of tragedy, uncertainty and pain.

7 General Truths about Suffering: the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.

  1. Suffering is painful
  2. No body wants to suffer
  3. Suffering is perplexing
  4. Suffering is exposing
  5. There are many faces to suffering (Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Persecution, etc)
  6. God is Sovereignly Good (Purposeful)

    “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory”. Ephesians 1:11

  7. The purpose of suffering is to bring God glory through the enjoyment of himself or the display of his judgment

Listen to this quote as God receives the glory through this woman’s faith in suffering. Joni Tada spent the last forty-one years of her life in a wheel chair, and prays this sweet prayer,

“Oh thank you, thank you for this wheel chair! By tasting hell in this life, I’ve been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy.”

This is how I want to pray! This is how I want to view suffering in lite of my savior! With that said, let’s turn to the four answers to WHY a sermon on Suffering?

Why a Sermon on Suffering?

1) Suffering is inevitable in this life – Since the fall suffering has invaded

Genesis 3:14-19

  • The ground has been cursed
  • Pain of child birth increased
  • Death and decay sickness and disease
  • The earth is filled with sinners, we are among them
  • The enemy is at work
  • The world hates Christ
  • Sinful Christians are being sanctified

This means people will continue to die, get sick, murder, betray, enslave, persecute, abuse substances, experience mental disorders, abort their babies, etc. Bigotry and racism will continue. “Natural” disasters will continue to occur.

This doesn’t mean we have no hope. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Of all people we should not be shocked when tragedy strikes. We should not be ill when things don’t go our way. Until things are set right, suffering is a way of life! We need to be ready to point others to Christ during times of suffering. And we can’t do that if we don’t take God and his work seriously.

Application: Embrace and Expect Suffering as a Reality in this Life! Use the sufferings of this life as an opportunity to worship Christ and point others to His all sufficiency! Instead of looking away from the suffering in the world, study it. Ask questions. Study God’s word. See where God is at work.

2) Suffering is promised to God’s people

The nature of the cures in Genesis 3 is promised suffering…

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” Philippians 1:29

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22

And then the Son said, “Anyone who would be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.”

If God promises suffering for His children, suffering in this life is for His glory and our good.

This means we should view suffering as a grace given. AS the woman with paralysis. There is purpose in our suffering. Our God is not flippant with His ways much less with His ways toward His children.

Application: When enduring suffering of any kind, remember God’s love for you! Remember, His promises toward you. “He works ALL things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.”

Worship God in the pain! Sing to Him!

3) Suffering is Spiritual

Read Job 1:1-5 (Explains the destruction of all of Job’s possessions including his children)
Read Job 2:7-10

Pain in any form either drives us to our knees in prayer or it drives us away from prayer and into despair

Satan wants us to think we are alone, that God is not for us, and that His promises and love are negated because of the current pain we are facing.

He wants us to focus on how people aren’t caring for us well. How no one really understands therefore they can’t actually help. He wants us to accuse God of injustice. He wants us to hyper focus on the pain the circumstance rather than our love Savior

Application: When enduring suffering, remind yourself that there is a war going on that cannot be seen with the natural eye. Satan is waring for your attention to be anywhere but on Christ. He is waring for you to think and speak of anything but the life that is found in Christ. Your weapon is the word of truth. Speak forth the truth against the lies that flood your thoughts during times of sorrow.

Often we treat setbacks as mere disappointments in life rather than God’s goodness being extended in a way that is just not understood in the moment.
Let us be reminded that suffering is a gift given. We have the opportunity to trust in Him or turn from Him.

Not all suffering is an attack from Satan, but all suffering is an opportunity for Satan to speak lies and try to steer us away from Christ.

4) Suffering is an opportunity to make much of Christ

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘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 1:20-21

Read 2 Samuel 12:13-23

“with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:23b-28

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

“To consider Jesus better than everything else in the world is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.”

As Christians, we know that suffering is not random. We know that God is not up in heaven wishing things were different. We have a God is who intimately aware of our needs and the needs around us.

He will stop at nothing to get us to a place of maximum pleasure in the glory of His name. He will stop at nothing to point others to the place where eternal delight is found, Christ. So let us embrace the sanctifying work of suffering!

Our hope is not built on the shifting sands of a changing sinful world. Our hope is built on the King of Sorrows who has reconciled us to God through His life death resurrection and ascension!

Application: When enduring suffering, let us look to Christ our Suffering King! Let us truly drink from the all satisfying well of Christ as we meditate on His word, as we embrace His promises, as we look to pain as a tool to point us even further to Christ, as we point others to Christ, as we count ALL things as loss, including the pursuit of comfort-financial stability – ease – etc., in comparison to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

“There’s no other way the world is going to see the supreme glory of Christ today except that we break free from the Disneyland of America and begin to live lifestyles of missionary sacrifice that looks to the world like our treasure is in heaven and not on the earth. It’s the only way.”