What to Do When We Suffer
4 Reasons for Suffering --
Someone else’s fault
No one’s fault -- Fallen world
For God’s glory -- opportunity of a lifetime
Someone Else’s Fault --
Cause -- Someone sins directly against you and you suffer as a result
21 When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, he said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of human beings, even though the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth onward. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword and strung the bow to bring down the poor and needy and to slaughter those whose way is upright.
Response -- Forgiveness
Mt 6:14-15; Mt 18:21-35
14 “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.
21 Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times?” 22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven. 23 “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle accounts, one who owed ten thousand talents was brought before him. 25 Since he did not have the money to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. 26 “At this, the servant fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 Then the master of that servant had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. 28 “That servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ 29 “At this, his fellow servant fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he wasn’t willing. Instead, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. 31 When the other servants saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened. 32 Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And because he was angry, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”
Jesus gave us an example - Lk 23:34
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.
Your Fault --
Cause -- You are lost and sin and reap the consequences of that sin or you are saved and sin and God disciplines you to turn you away from that sin
All sin has consequences
1Co 11:27-32 shows us that one way God disciplines his children is through sickness in order to turn them from their sins and that if they do not repent that sickness may even lead to their death. This situation by the way is a group of early believers in Corinth who were participating in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. This is why we take very seriously who and how we participate in the Lord’s Supper here at this church.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly judging ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined, so that we may not be condemned with the world.
Heb 12:3-13 tells us that God will discipline His children, those who are saved, in order to turn them from their sin, and every christian needs to know this. If you sin, it’s not ok, and God has already forgiven you and you may have to face the natural consequences that your sin may cause but you don’t have to worry about God actually punishing you. That’s just simply not true. The truth is, you don’t have to worry about being condemned, which means you will lose your salvation and be sent to hell, on the day of judgment, but that is a far cry different than you won’t be punished. If you are saved and a child of God, you absolutely will be punished by God for your sins on this earth, why? In order to turn you from those sins. Why do parents punish their children when they do wrong, such as spanking them? To cause them to not want to do that wrong thing again. Now is a loving father, patient, and lenient, and forgiving? Of course and so is God, but a loving father will also discipline his child and so will God. So if you think God is punishing you, you may be right, my question is first, Are you saved? Have you accepted Jesus’ call to follow Him with your life? Have you accepted the price that Jesus paid with His own blood on your behalf? Do you value His blood and the price he paid or do you consider it trivial. And if you are saved, and if you have accepted the brutal death of God’s son on your behalf to save you from your sins, are you currently living in sin? Are you currently living a life that the God who bought you and bled his blood for you told you not to live? Then you very well may be being disciplined by God so that you would wake up, come to your senses, and turn from those sins. Give them up. Stop sinning against the God who gives you existence and love Him. Love Him, because He loves you, otherwise He wouldn’t be trying to wake you up and getting you to turn from sin, he would just let you live life however you want and send you to hell forever when you die. If God wasn’t disciplining you and trying to get you to turn from sin and turn to him, only then could you say that God doesn’t really care about me, God doesn’t really love me.
3 For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. 4 In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by him, 6 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives. 7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.
Respones -- Repent
James tells us that if you are sick that you should call for the elders and confess your sins to them and they will pray for you and anoint you with oil and if your sickness is God’s discipline for your sins and you repent then you will be healed but if your sickness is not God’s discipline then even if you are not physically healed your soul will still be saved. Jam 5:13-20
13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. 17 Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My brothers and sisters, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let that person know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Jesus said to his disciples after His resurrection that forgiveness of sins is linked to repenting from sin. Lk 24:46-47
46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out,
18 When they heard this they became silent. And they glorified God, saying, “So then, God has given repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles.”
9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
No One’s Fault --
Cause -- We live in a fallen world full of sinners who are sinning and an enemy who is stealing, killing, and destroying
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. 23 Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Response -- Take hope in the one who has conquered the world and has promised a better life to come.
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
15 I have a hope in God, which these men themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the unrighteous.
17 Because God wanted to show his unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. 20 Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because he has become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
1 See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.
33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
For God’s Glory --
Cause -- God is the source of some form of suffering in your life in order for you to use that situation to glorify God to a people who need him because we live in a fallen world. (ex. man born blind -- would not have happened if the fall never happened)
Jn 9:1-3 - A whole chapter, 41 verses are devoted to his story
1 As he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.
Response -- Thankfulness that you get to play such an important role in the story of God, as Christians, this is what we should long for
Jesus told us that it is a blessing to be persecuted for our devotion to God. Mt 5:10-12
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The Apostle Peter gave us this warning and encouragement. 1Pe 4:12-16
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name.
This is not just the advice we are given, it was the reality of the early church. Ac 5:41
41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.
Job’s suffering was for God’s glory, Aside from the person of Jesus Christ Himself, no one in the scriptures brings more glory to God with his or her life than Job.
Satan attacked God by saying that Job lived a life of holiness turning from evil, not because Job actually loved God, but only because of what God had given him. If God allowed him to take everything away from Job he would curse God to his face because, according to Satan, God is not worth that kind of devotion.
1 There was a man in the country of Uz named Job. He was a man of complete integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil.
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” 9 Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Haven’t you placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
So then Job lost oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his camels, his children, and many of his servants, and this was his response
20 Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, 21 saying: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. 22 Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.
So then Satan again attacked God’s worth by saying that Job would not stay devoted to God if he was allowed to attack his health, no-one, not even God is worth that kind of devotion, everyone including Job would curse God to his face then.
7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself while he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.
In the end Job did not abandon his faithfulness to God, Job wanted answers but even without answers he still believed that God was worthy of his praise and he still earnestly looked forward to being with Him forever. Jb 19:25-27
25 But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. 26 Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. 27 I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.
And no matter what suffering we face in this life, we should be sincere in forgiving others, we should be quick to repent, we should cling to the hope that awaits us, and we should rejoice in our opportunities to suffer for the glory of God and for the good of others, just as Christ suffered for HIs glory and for our good. Rom 8:18
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.