Faithlife Sermons

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why: Suffering  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

Establish a Need

Suffering in this life abounds. There are those who are brutally attacked without provocation. It wasn’t that long ago when it was reported that in some places within the US, youth would walk up to an older man and punch him so hard that he would pass out. To them, this was fun.
There are those who suffer abuse within their marriages and are treated with absolute contempt. They are verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, as well as emotionally assaulted. They suffer everyday at the hand of the one who told that they love them.
There are people who live on the streets of Seattle, some are even closer to home, right outside the gate. There is little, if any pity given them. They suffer from lack of care and any sense of significance in this life. They are heart-broken, bruised, and lost.
Some think that their suffering is deserved, but do they deserve to suffer? Are they reaping what they have sown by some previous situation where they failed the test? Does God care?

Personal Experience

I wish I could wave some sort of magic wand over all those who are suffering, to alleviate their pain, but I have not been given that ability, nor has anyone.
C.S. Lewis once said, “Suffering is God’s megaphone to the world.”
(NLT) says, “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.”
It seems obvious that our sinful nature has brought this on ourselves.
Paul would say when looking at his own sinful life in (NLT), “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
But, wait! Even Jesus dealt with suffering. (NLT) says, “Even though Jesus was God’s own Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.”

Challenge Question

Could it be, that suffering is a necessary part of our spiritual growth? And that those who avoid suffering, are really hindering their own spiritual growth?

Background

begins by describing a righteous man named Job. Satan entered the scene and God allowed Satan to test him. He lost his livestock, his servants, and then his family. Only his wife remained.
Jobs 3 friends came to offer some comfort, but once they saw the depth of Job’s suffering, they sat with him and were quiet for 7 days.
Job eventually began to process what had happened, questioning a great many things. When his friends finally finish refuting, rebuking, and opposing his views, Elihu, a young man, spoke up...

(NLT)

(NLT) “
5 “God is mighty, but he does not despise anyone!
He is mighty in both power and understanding.
6 He does not let the wicked live but gives justice to the afflicted.
but gives justice to the afflicted.
7 He never takes his eyes off the innocent, but he sets them on thrones with kings and exalts them forever.
but he sets them on thrones with kings
and exalts them forever.
8 If they are bound in chains and caught up in a web of trouble,
and caught up in a web of trouble,
9 he shows them the reason. He shows them their sins of pride.
He shows them their sins of pride.
10 He gets their attention and commands that they turn from evil.
and commands that they turn from evil.
11 “If they listen and obey God, they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant.
they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives.
All their years will be pleasant.
12 But if they refuse to listen to him, they will cross over the river of death, dying from lack of understanding.
they will cross over the river of death,
dying from lack of understanding.
13 For the godless are full of resentment. Even when he punishes them, they refuse to cry out to him for help.
Even when he punishes them,
they refuse to cry out to him for help.
14 They die when they are young, after wasting their lives in immoral living.
after wasting their lives in immoral living.
15 But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer.
For he gets their attention through adversity.
16 “God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food.
to a place free from distress.
He is setting your table with the best food.
17 But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged.
Don’t worry, judgment and justice will be upheld.
18 But watch out, or you may be seduced by wealth.* Don’t let yourself be bribed into sin.
Don’t let yourself be bribed into sin.
19 Could all your wealth* or all your mighty efforts keep you from distress?
or all your mighty efforts
keep you from distress?
20 Do not long for the cover of night, for that is when people will be destroyed.*
for that is when people will be destroyed.*
21 Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for God sent this suffering
for God sent this suffering
to keep you from a life of evil.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Prayer

Why does God allow Suffering?

Does God enjoy watching us suffer?
Why does God allow Suffering?
Does He laugh at us when we grieve?
I submit to you that God does NOT enjoy watching us suffer nor does He laugh when we grieve, but that He looks forward to our learning the lessons obtained through suffering (see Job 36:5).

1. God allows suffering to reveal our sins

v.8-9 (NLT) “If they are bound in chains and caught in a web of trouble, he shows them the reason. He shows them their sins of pride.”
Some of us are pretty hard-headed/hearted. We don’t seem to get it unless someone gets in our face and points out our problem.
Consequences for heard-heartedness plagues the Israelites. But, does God always give us what we deserve?
Not in my life, and I suspect, not in yours either.
In fact, as I realize more of my own sins, I am much more understanding of others’ sins and not so quick to judge them for their faults.
(NLT) “So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
I believe the concept of humility is closely tied to mercy—sadly, a trait that few seem to have anymore.
I believe that there are sins that no one knows about, but we alone must bear.
And our high and mighty attitude about our own greatness and perfection, is greatly exaggerated. It fills us with pride and arrogance, while blinding us to the truth of our own sins.

2. God allows suffering to get our attention

v.10 (NLT) “He gets their attention and commands that they turn from evil.”
v.15 (NLT) “. . . by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.”
Are you hard-headed? No worries, God will get through to you!
Some people seem to take pride in being hard-headed, as evidenced by their comment that “God had to hit me in the head with a 2X4 before I got it,” though I am not sure why this is an attribute one wants to have.
Be warned! I believe that God is gracious and merciful. I believe that His approach to us in confronting our sins is something like this: 1) He begins by being gentle/subtle, being kind to help us see and confess our sins, perhaps reminding us as we read His word; 2) If the gentle approach is not heeded, then He turns up the heat a little more, perhaps reminding us of our sin via a friend/spouse/boss; 3) If we are still not getting it or willing to admit it, then God is faithful and remains in pursuit of us until we do.
In the end, I believe that one of 2 things will occur: 1) We will confess our sin to God and experience the freedom that an honest heart enjoys, or 2) we will ignore God and continue on our way, until life gets so ugly for us that our stubbornness must give way if peace is to ever be had again.

3. God allows suffering to gain understanding

a. (v.11, 14) How to live a godly life
Proverbs are filled with parallels between the wise and the foolish
is filled with advice that a father gives his son
Our passage today parallels the “godly” with the “godless;” the “wicked” with the “innocent;” the “evil” with the good life.
b. (v.13, 15a, 18a, 19) Who to call/rely on when in need
God wants us to come to Him—He wants us to call on His name
c.
God wants us to see suffering as a tool that hones our character; that teaches us things about God that cannot be taught in a classroom, but must be taught from real life experiences
From these experiences of suffering, Jesus wants us learn, as He did, the value of obedience to the Father.
C.S. Lewis said, after losing his wife, Joy, that “Suffering can be a brutal teacher, but boy, do we learn!”

So What?

Remember, (NLT), that “. . . when [not if] we run into problems and trials . . . we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
Remember, (NLT), that “. . . what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Lastly, remember (NLT), that “. . . God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Our Response

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Closing Prayer

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