Faithlife Sermons

God's Sovereignty, Our Suffering

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:01:16
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Intro Video - Explore God “Suffering”
The Experience, Cause, Purpose of Suffering
One of the most misunderstood doctrines in scripture
One of the most common arguments against God’s existence
Human suffering is pointless and proves God doesn’t exist
Or, if there is a God...
He is Powerful, but He is not good (mean/angry)
He is good, but He is not powerful (helpless)
The Bible has much to say about humanities suffering.
Our Goal this morning is NOT
to ignore suffering: pain, emotions, questions
to give specific answers for particular experiences
make it all better; this won’t take away the hurt
Our Goal IS
To gain a more Biblical framework (worldview)
To begin to be be better prepared to:
Reflect on our own past, present, future suffering
Walk with others through their suffering
Engage in conversation with our children about suffering
Be encouraged in our suffering of God’s power, goodness, purpose
We will not exhaust the topic, there may be unanswered questions, but hopefully we will at least begin moving in the right direction.
Romans 8:18–25 ESV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

God has exposed all of creation to suffering for an intentional purpose.

We see creation subjected, placed under suffering…why?
Go back to the beginning....Originally good (Genesis 1)
It was broken and made vulnerable by sin (Gen 2 , The Fall)
Individual Broken
Physically - Pain, Sickness, Disease, Old Age, Death
Spiritually - Separated and Condemned
Separated: We search for Identity, Purpose, Joy
Condemned: Because we will turn over every rock and stone to find meaning, but we refuse to look up.
Society Broken
Family Conflict - Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel
Social Conflict - Anger, Hate, Division, War,
Environment Broken -
Ground Cursed - Thorns, Weeds, Labor, Sweat
Animals Cursed - Serpent “above all”…more than the other animals, but all were cursed
Nature moves from submission/provision to rebellion/struggle
All of creation shares a common groaning
We experience and observe: Futility , Bondage, Corruption
Frustrated by continual death, decay, ruin
The Anti-aging market is worth 192 billion (we desire eternity)
Each year 12.7 million people discover they have cancer, and 7.6 million will die from the disease
In 2015, there were 36 natural disasters killing close to 25,000 people.
New reports of violence, war, terrorism, horrific actions of humanity.
No one has to strain to see that the world is broken
But the Bible will say that suffering in not pointless
God is all powerful, (sovereign, control)
God is good, and even the suffering that we are subjected too is part of His grace in our lives trying to point us to Jesus.

1. Suffering reveals our brokenness.

God is using the physical to reveal the spiritual, He is using external pain to reveal an internal problem.
Not all pain, is bad…some pain is beneficial, it has a purpose
Hot Stove Top - Central Nervous System
Ruptured Appendix - Could die from bacteria poisoning
Because of an internal alert, we are spared an external loss.
Because of painful symptoms…we are aware of the greater disease
God uses this physical, external suffering to reveal a problem of HEART.
Because no one wakes up frustrated or furious:
About their own selfishness and pride
About their disregard of God’s authority and provision
About their lack of giving: time, money, resources for God’s glory
But if we wake up to: Disaster, Disease, Death
We are frustrated, discouraged, angry..this is horrible
We begin to see the destruction, the fallout of the fall, of sin, of trying to live independent of God’s authority.
God turns our attention to our problem of the heart.
God in His grace, is using suffering, to show us that we need restoration that He alone can provide.
Love does not mean “do no harm”, love means that God will allow suffering to alert us of our desperate need of redemption.
A physician will re-break an arm in order to allow it to heal properly allows momentary suffering to as a means to restore what was broken.

2. Suffering exposes our idolatry.

We have the first fruits of the Spirit, but we wait eagerly for redemption
We are waiting for freedom, a time when we will not kick against God’s will
This is more than just doing “bad things” that we call sin.
Tullian Tchividjian (Cha-vi-jin) Billy Graham’s Grandson writes:
“Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God...
Our dreams are a window into our theology. We are a proud people, the inheritors of the American Dream—the pursuit of happiness is our inalienable right. Like bratty, self-involved little kids, we push past the Giver to grab for the gift. Can you see it? We use God for health, wealth, and emotional well-being, and in the process, we miss out on relationship with our heavenly Father...
What is that thing in your life that if God were to take it away, you’d feel like life was not worth living?
When we are able to answer that question, we will figure out what we are really worshipping, and what, by definition, might lie at the root of our suffering. It could be our children, our spouse, an ambition, or a dream of financial success. Those good gifts God gave us for our enjoyment that we have turned into idols. Suffering is often the process of these things being stripped away. Indeed, there is nothing like suffering to remind us how much we need God.
2. When we are prone to love our Spouse, Children, Wealth, our Stuff more that God, He may sometimes remove our idol…and it will hurt.
a. How is taking someone I love God’s grace?
b. It is God’s grace because He is showing you that He alone can satisfy.
Mark 8:36 ESV
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
c. He will reveal when we find our joy, comfort, security, hope in something other than Him.
Colossians 3:2 ESV
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
3. Think of the “Rich Young Ruler” in Matthew 19.
a. He had obeyed the law, he could check that off the list
b. Jesus says, go and sell all you have and you will have treasure in Heaven.
c. He walked away sad, because He had great possessions..
In this man’s mind he already had great treasure...
He missed God (big G) because of his god (little g)
So God out of GRACE will use suffering to reveal sin and to expose idols because often we forget that Jesus is all we need, until Jesus is all we have.

3. Suffering displays our hope.

The purpose of our suffering may be God’s grace in the life of someone He is drawing to Himself.
What hope are we finding in the midst of our suffering that we share with those around us?
1. Jesus subjected Himself to suffering to become our Savior.
Hebrews 4:15 ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
On the surface, this verse is speaking of Jesus being tempted, but it also reminds us that Jesus us both fully God and fully man.
i. He experienced the pains of hunger and thirst
ii. He wept at the death of a loved one
iii. He felt betrayal by someone from his inner circle
iv. He was beaten, mocked, crucified for those who despised Him.
v. He was forsaken by His Father, He felt the full wrath of God in our place.
vi. Jesus, the innocent, perfect son of God, is familiar with your pain, your hurt, your suffering…and He is our hope.
2. There will be a day when God fully restores all things.
Paul says we have recieved the Spirit of adoption in Rom 8:15, but we are not yet fully adopted. The Spirit is a down payment of what is to come.
Jesus in His ministry healed the sick, calmed the storms, raised the dead to demonstrate His authority…and we wait with hope (here that word is literally expectation) that He will return with as King and restore everything that was broken.
Revelation 21:1–5 ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Our expectation is that in this temporary world, our pain is also only temporary
Our expectation is that one day, we will cease to feel anything outside of joy and awe in the presence of our Redeemer
3. Until that day, God will provide deliverance and grace.
Romans 8:26–28 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We ask our Father to deliver us, to help us, to heal us
But if that is not His will, how do we pray?
Paul says that when we don’t know, the Spirit groans with us...
We pray that God will change our circumstance, or change our character
We pray for healing, for deliverance; but if that doesn’t come...
peace, understanding, humility, strength, patience, endurance, faith
Psalm 51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken, rejoice.
4. God’s purpose in pain is always for the good of His people.
God is not asleep at the wheel, He didn’t leave the house and forget to turn the oven off
God is not distant and uncaring , He is not a kid watching an ant farm, only observing, never interacting.
God is actively involved for our good
God’s greatest good for our lives is not health, wealth and the american dream....those things are finite, temporary
God’s greatest good, that He is working is that we would be conformed to the image of Jesus. That we would know Him, that we would be like Him, that He would be our eternal treasure.
So no, God does not always provide a healing/saving miracle, but He tells us to trust that He is working towards something even greater...
The quality of our faith is not always measured by whether a miracle of physical healing occurs, but rather by the joy and confidence we maintain in the goodness and faithfulness of God amid our suffering, as He transforms our lives to be like Jesus.
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