The Centrality of God in Suffering
lass=MsoNormal align=right style='text-align:right'>1) 11-30-08…AM…SBC“The Centrality of God in Suffering”
Introduction: Poem by Unknown Christian Author
My life is but a weaving, between my Lord and me; I cannot choose the color. He worketh steadily.
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow and I in foolish pride, forget He sees the upper and I the under side.
Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly, shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as neeful in the Weaver’s skillful hands, as the threads of gold and silver, in the pattern He as planned.
Ø During times of difficult suffering we are tempted to forget that God ordained this for our lives
Ø We are tempted to think that we know better than God when it comes to what is good for us
Ø Sometimes we are tempted to think that we do not deserve to suffer – “We are Christians!”
· I have been faithful for years and years—I’m a SS teacher—I’m the Pastor—I give to the homeless
Ø We forget that the presupposition of Scripture is that we suffer – Philippians 1:29
Ø We often forget that these sufferings have a purpose behind them – 1 Peter 1:6-7, Romans 8:28
Transition: It is in a context of suffering that Psalm 119 confronts us in our suffering
Psalm 119 Background:
1- The psalmist apparently wrote while under some sort of serious duress (cf. vv. 23, 42, 51, 61, 67, 71, 78, 86–87, 95, 110, 121, 134, 139, 143, 146, 153, 154, 157, 161, 169). 
2- The psalmist was persecuted by men of rank and authority, who ridiculed his beliefs, seeking to put him to shame and make him give up his faith.
3- We do not know who wrote this psalm, although the writer refers to himself many times. He was suffering for his love for God’s Law, yet he had determined to obey the Word regardless of the cost.
4- This Psalm is the thoughtful outcry that arises when real life meets a real God.
This Psalm radically demonstrates for us how to not only survive in suffering, but how to blossom and grow.
Ø How am I supposed to grow?—Is that even possible?—You don’t now what I’m going through? (Preacher’s job is to point to God)—Where is God?—Why would God do this to me?
The appeal this morning is this…
Proposition: When suffering comes God will be gracious.
Ø In other words…How are you going to handle and respond when you are stuck in the washing machine of life? (spin cycle of life)
Transition: The Psalmist begins this section by displaying for us how someone suffering must believe in…
1- The Centrality of God’s Word v129-131
A- “Testimonies” (עֵדוּת) v129 – The law of God is his testimony because it is his own affirmation
about to his very person and purpose. (court room witness)
1- Attribute: Wonderful (פְּלָא֥וֹת) = Extraordinary, supernatural, unique
a- they are wonderful in their origin, content and effect
2- Result: “Keep” (נָצַר) – comply with –
a- How wonderful GW is to you depends on how much you not only know them, but also comply to them (Christmas = Santa; Parenting = manipulation; Divorce in the Church)
(The Effect of the Wonderful Words)
B- v130 – As we begin to see what God’s word has to say we are able to discern good/evil, truth/false
(Illustration: light filing a dark room when the door is opened)
C- v131 – The more we are enlightened by GW the more we will desire to know it and comply with it
(Illustration: animal panting for water – Psalm 42:1)
Application to Suffering: To not go to GW while suffering is to say to God, “Your word can’t comfort me, you and
your word are lacking in it’s power and effectiveness to change me.”
Transition: The Psalmist is also convicted of…
2- The Centrality of God’s Character v132
A- In the Bible we find out what God is like, not what we like to think God is like
§ wise—compassionate but not overpower—loving—friendly but never condemning
§ Why is God’s character important? – what you believe about God determines everything
- right doctrine = right living
- people believe to be true what they desire to be true – “feel good religion”
- many Christians believe in an antinomian type of Christianity – rejection of morality
- it is important that the teaching from this pulpit is not only from the Word but also that the teaching is in line with what the Word of God is actually saying
B- The Psalmist petitions God to treat him as He has treated His people in the past
· With mercy – pity towards those who are spiritually poor and needy
· This reveals a determination of God to act graciously on our behalf – Jonah confession
· God’s past dealings with His people evidence that he has not given you more than you can bear
1 Corinthians 10:13
· The Psalmist doesn’t know this unless he knows God’s Word for that is the only way God reveals Himself
Application to Suffering: To despise your suffering is to act as though God is not dealing graciously with you,
which is not possible according to the Bible
C- The gracious acts of God v133-135
1. v133 – God establishes the Psalmists practical living in GW over the dominion of sin
2. v134 – The author appeals to God for removal of the suffering so he can do more for God
o the weight of this suffering is hindering him from doing all he would like to be doing
o until the answer of removal comes – God’s grace must be sufficient
3. v135 – when the oppression of suffering is removed there is no time for relaxing
o you can then become vulnerable to a new problem
o after coming through the trial enthusiasm should be the outlook of God’s people
o have a renewed purpose to honor God and reflect on what you learned
Application to Suffering: Suffering is meant to establish our ways so we don’t fall back into the dominion of sin
once the trial has been removed (learn from worry)
1- Do you take GW seriously? v136
· Is David talking about you and me in verse 136?
· The answer to that question is found in how you handle suffering and you overall life
· You can’t people fool God and others by saying that you love God but not follow his precepts
1- Are you overcome by the way God’s will is playing out in the circumstances of our life?
2- With the right view of God you can not only grow and blossom, joy during the difficulties
· but only if you are one of God’s people
3- Salvation – Gospel chapter from 9marks
· Once you realize the truth about your sin and God’s Holiness by reading GW you are called to respond
· The response that the Good News of the Gospel (God’s Holiness and our sin) is to repent and believe
· Believing is trusting God fully for your salvation and that it is nothing of yours
· Repentance is God’s demand for change – an “about face”
· Repent is the only thing to do when you begin to think rightly about God and yourself
· Belief without change is counterfeit belief
· Repent and believe today! – remember one evidence of salvation is a love for the word
4- While “suffering” determine to find Romans 8:28 – ask What? not Why?
Invitation: Song – As the Deer (TCB #41)
Ø Individual Christian – there are a million and one struggles and difficulties in this room right now
Ø Show of hands as to how many are suffering – you are not alone – encourage and lift one another up in prayer, word and action
 1 001 Great Stories and Quotes: Hughes, p406.
John Jr MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997), Ps 119:1.
John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:879.
Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993), Ps 119:1.
R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 650.