We just finished our series – Genuine. We received a lot of feedback that it is one of the best series for the year.
The topic we talked about was on suffering. Not a very exciting topic for some people. In fact, people want to avoid and get rid of suffering. Here’s my sermon outline last Sunday.
The reality is: ALL people go through suffering.
Some suffer physically or chronic pain due to sickness. Some suffer mental anguish. Some are struggling relationally. Some have financial crisis.
Some have emotional problems. Some just feel alone and think that God has abandoned them.
TENSION: Why do bad things happen to good people?
James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
James 5:8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
James 5:9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
James 5:10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
James 5:11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Look around you and you will realize that suffering is all over the place.
One usual question that people ask is, “Why do people suffer?”
Can’t we skip the bad parts and then proceed to the good parts like watching a DVD?
3 Reasons why people suffer:
1. Because of sin and wrongdoing
Many times people suffer because of the consequence of their actions and wrong decisions.
Example: Financial disaster or debt because of greed or over-indulgence
Sexual disease because of promiscuity
Teenage pregnancy due to pre-marital sex
Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
2. We live in a fallen world.
There is sickness and disease, pain and sorrow.
The ground was cursed because of the sin of mankind. (Gen 3:17-19)
Example: Children in Africa born with aids. Not their fault.
Earthquake, tsunami, and other calamities.
3. Because of righteousness.
1Pet. 3:17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
EXTREME VIEWS ON SUFFERING
One extreme: Christians don’t need to suffer. Only blessed.
Other extreme: Suffering brings you closer to God.
As Christians, we need to have a healthy and balanced view of suffering.
Three pictures of suffering in the book of James:
1. FARMER (waits for the rains and the crop to grow)
He suffers because of waiting.
He is confident that there is a harvest but don’t know when.
Cannot help by doing the “raindance”.
Waits for blessings or promises to come to pass.
We live in a microwave generation. Instant noodles, rice, instant bride, etc.
We want instant gratification.
No one enjoys the wait.
EX. Abraham and Sarah had to wait for 25 years before having the promised son. Abraham was 100 years old!
But while waiting, do not justify sinful alternatives.
ILLUS: Couple waiting to have a child. You may be waiting for a job promotion. Freedom from debt. Singles – getting married. Parent for a child to be saved or vice versa. Sick with dreaded disease wait for healing.
God’s timetable is different. 1000yrs =1day. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Ways not our ways.
Man: Dear God, how long is a million years?
God: A million years is like a minute to me.
Man: Dear God, how much is $1,000,000?
God: $1,000,000 is like 1 cent to me.
Man: God, can I borrow one cent?
God: Just a minute.
But in the end, it’s worth the wait.
2. PROPHETS (speak the word of the Lord)
They suffered because of righteousness. Preaching the Word of the Lord.
Not popular among the people. Persecuted for standing for their conviction.
ILLUS: Jeremiah, Elijah, the Apostles, Stephen, martyrs, modern day Christians in hostile nations who are currently being persecuted.
1Pet. 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
3. JOB (persevered in suffering)
Suffering caused by “unknown reasons” or “I don’t know”.
God considered Job as blameless and upright and yet He allowed Job to suffer.
God bragged about Job with Satan. But the outcome of Job’s life was a breakthrough.
“Double for all the trouble”
Round 1: Job’s stuff was taken and the following was his response.
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship
Job 1:21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
Round 2: Job’s health was touched and the following was his response.
Job 2:9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
Job 2:10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Personal: I shared a story of suffering of a close friend who I will write about in my next blog.
1Pet. 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Purpose of suffering. God wants to make our faith mature and complete.
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Job 42:5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Can you see God with you in the midst of your suffering?
MAINPOINT: GENUINE FAITH SEES GOD IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING.
2Cor. 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Sufferings are temporary!
Heb. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Heb. 12:3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus endured because he saw the reward of multitudes getting saved.
He can empathize with you and what you are going through.
Source: Sunday Recall