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Point of Light 4: Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for his followers. Look at this verse, and remember they were written by the apostle Paul, who suffered through beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness and far more pain that most of us will ever have to endure. These are his words:. Five different times his back was shredded when he was flogged 39 lashes with a whip; three times he was beaten to a bloody pulp by rods.
Think of it this way. You had an emergency root canal at the dentist and the ran out of pain-killers. You crashed your car and had no insurance. Your stock portfolio took a nosedive. Your spouse got sick. A friend betrayed you. But then every other day of the year was just incredibly terrific. Your relationship with God is close and real and intimate.
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You get promoted at work to your dream job. Your marriage is idyllic, your health is fabulous, you have a six-month vacation in Tahiti. That was a bad day, no denying it. It was difficult at the time. It was hard.
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It was painful. The terrific days far outweigh the one bad day. That day just sort of fades away. Listen to me — that is not to deny the reality of your pain in this life. It might be terrible. It might be chronic. My wife Leslie has a medical condition that puts her in pain every single day.
They were difficult, they were bad. He had been in and out of hospitals his whole life — and yet he made the astounding comment that he thinks God is fair. And He will. God promises a time when there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain and suffering, when we will be reunited with God in perfect harmony, forever.
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Finally, Point of Light 5: We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage. Some who lose a child to a drunk driver turn inward in chronic rage and never-ending despair; another turns outward to help others by founding Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. We make the choice to either run away from God or to run to Him. But what happens if we run to Him? I started this talk with part of what Jesus said in John You will have suffering in this world.
But be courageous!
I have conquered the world. Because he has conquered the world! Through His own suffering and death, He has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. God has the last word! So let me finish the story of Leslie and I driving through the fog in Wisconsin. We were following the taillights of that truck when the fog slowly began to lift, the rain began to let up and we entered a town with some lights — things were becoming clearer, we could see better, and as we rounded a curve, silhouetted against the night sky, guess what we saw? We saw the steeple of a church and the cross of Christ.
Because it was through that cross that Jesus conquered the world for us. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives. Are you broken? He was broken, like bread, for us. Are you despised? He was despised and rejected of men. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did someone betray you? He was sold out. Are your most tender relationships broken? He loved and He was rejected. Did people turn from you? They hid their faces from Him as if He were a leper.
Does He descend into all of our hells? Yes, He does. After all, any close friend can do that. Any close friend can sit beside you and comfort you and empathize with you. No, Jesus is much closer than your closest friend. And, therefore, your sufferings are His sufferings; your sorrow is His sorrow. But let me end by going back to this specific tragedy that took place two days ago in Aurora.
For all the things it leaves us confused about, one of the truths it clearly illustrates is that life is so fragile and short. These people were going to a movie! They had no clue that this might be their last moments in this world. Friends, in this sin-scarred world, we never know when death will come knocking. His infallible, inerrant Word says you can know for sure. The Bible is clear that we can be religious but not be in a relationship with God. Religious activities and affiliations never saved anyone. It comes from deciding in your heart that you want to turn from your sin, to stop trusting in your own resources, and to accept the forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross and is offering you as a free gift.
So settle it now! Resolve this today, at this moment, so that if tragedy were to strike, your eternity with God would be secure. Let the pain of that tragedy open your heart to Christ. Pray with me right now to receive Christ — so that you can know for sure that even if the very worst thing were to happen to you after you leave the auditorium today, it will immediately be followed by the very best thing of all.
In repentance and faith, I reach out right now and receive the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that You graciously purchased on the cross when You died as my substitute to pay for all of my sins. Please, Lord Jesus, lead my life — because from this moment on, I am Yours. I pray this in Your name. To subscribe to his newsletter, visit our newsletter sign-up page.
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free for 30 days! Filed under Apologetics , Reflections. Tagged as apologetics , bible questions , evil , lee strobel , loving god , suffering , theodicy , tough questions. Unable to display Facebook posts. Yet the Scriptures do make several helpful affirmations, which must be accepted even if not totally understood. God Permits Suffering. First, the Bible affirms that God has chosen to permit suffering.
God is the designer of a plan that allowed for sin and suffering. Though God does not approve of sin and its consequences suffering , nor is He responsible for it, it is here by His permission. In His omniscience His full knowledge of everything , He knew that the plan He chose, even though it allowed for sin and suffering, ultimately would bring about the greatest good and glory.
Nowhere does the Bible suggest that God was overcome by the power of sin; that suffering was forced into His universe against His will. He is the sovereign who "works all things after the counsel of His will" Eph. Result of Fall. Yet, at the same time, the Bible makes it very clear that all human suffering is the result of the Fall. Our suffering is directly related to the curse that came upon the earth as the result of sin. With sin came corruption, suffering and death see Gen. This is not to say that every occurrence of suffering in our lives is direct punishment for our personal sins.
This misconception causes much undue self-castigation.
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It was the mentality of Job's friends who did their best to convince Job that his suffering was a result of some unadmitted wickedness. It was also the popular conclusion among the Jews at the time of Christ--a view He clearly refuted see Luke ; John Christians Suffer. Third, we come to the reality that we often find the most troubling. God has not chosen to spare even His children from the consequences of living in a fallen world. Living godly lives does enable the believer to avoid some of the unnecessary suffering that others bring upon themselves by ignoring God's moral and spiritual laws.
Yes Christians do get sick and die.
Christians are robbed and raped. They have accidents. They lose loved ones in fires, earthquakes and hurricanes. And it seems at times that believers suffer more than the wicked. See the testimony of Asaph in Psalm In addition to the natural calamities of life, believers suffer persecution because of Jesus Christ. The New Testament does not proclaim the health and wealth "gospel" that is so popular in 20th-century evangelicalism.
The sooner we accept the reality that we are living in a fallen world with its suffering, the sooner we will be able to get on with living effectively for the Lord. Perhaps at this point you are asking, Well, it sounds like the Bible teaches fatalism--whatever will be will be. So why fight it? This is not a proper biblical perspective either. We are not expected just to take it on the chin without a whimper.
The Bible urges us to do what we can to relieve suffering.
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We are to "visit orphans and widows" James , "use a little wine for the sake of your stomach" 1 Tim. We have a social responsibility when it comes to suffering. We are also urged to cry out to God, to petition Him who loves us. We have a God "who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think " Eph.
He is the God of the miraculous. He is able either to prevent or remove the cause of our suffering if it is His will to do so. We are also called to live wisely. Some of our problems could be avoided if we would live consistently by the principles of wisdom in the Word of God. Sometimes we are only reaping what we have sown. Eternal Good in View. The fourth biblical affirmation laid out for us in the Bible is this: whatever calamity befalls us, God has our eternal good in view.
God may not have a specific lesson to teach us every time we suffer, but He does have a good purpose in view. In Romans we read: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. However, we must be careful not to remove the good spoken of from the purpose spelled out in verses God has designed all of life including suffering to conform us to the image of His Son. Nothing that we suffer in this life can prevent this process from reaching its divinely purposed outcome. So, how can we come to grips with our suffering?