(I Peter 1:11; 2:19-23; 3:14-18; 4:1,12-19; 5:1, 10)
God prepares great men for great tasks by great trials. -- J. K. Gressett
Luther said, No man ought to lay a cross upon himself, or to adopt tribulation; . . but if a cross or tribulation comes upon him, then let him suffer it patiently, and know that it is good and profitable for him.
Consider: I Thessalonians 3:1-8 Suffering comes from many things, such as testings, trials, difficulties, tribulations, afflictions, crises, pressures, losses, hurts, injustices, etc.
1. Life is a struggle.
2. The desire of most men is to be happy, to avoid pain and suffering,
3. and to escape from the bleak life of difficulty that so many men seem to lead.
4. The world tells us we should experience the good life! That life should bring its best our way. That we should get the gusto! That life should bring the fulfillment of our personal desires.
5. Often the problem is that when life goes our way we dont carefully examine our ways. (A backslider is filled with his own ways we are told in Proverbs.)
a. In fact we may be smug, self-satisfied and very proud about our ways.
b. God cant receive the glory for blessing us because we often take the credit.
c. If nothing else, suffering does get our attention.
Why do men suffer?
a. Does God cause it? b. Or does He just allow it?
c. Or does it happen independently of Gods workings or will?
1. God does want to bless our lives with an abundance of His power and grace.
2. Yet the Bible also teaches that suffering is a part of Gods order. We should not go looking for it, but neither should we be surprised when it finds us.
3. Everyone is going to suffer. The only decision is whether you are going to suffer with Christ or without Him. A unique fellowship with Christ comes into our lives when we suffer. Consider I Peter 4:12-13 and Philippians 4:10.
The Questions We Ask:
1. Does God care about me?
2. Does He want to help me?
3. Does He know how much agony I am going through?
4. Is He able to help me?
5. What is His will for me?
6. Does He care enough to help me or will He let me fall?
I. SEVEN REASONS MEN SUFFER: (Consider I Peter 5:6-7.)
Why do we at times have tears from sorrows, testing, trials and afflictions of life?
Why does God allow suffering anyway?
A. Sometimes It Is Because of An Innocent Mistake:
1. Maybe it is financial, or a blunder in the way we worded something to
someone we love.
2. Maybe it has to do with something someone else did, and we are caught in
3. An innocent mistake is unpredictable, and no one has done anything wrong, but nevertheless we suffer.
Often we see a father comforting a child because of the result of some innocent
mistake. Billys ball rolled down the street into a storm sewer, it was gone and
my, did he cry. The father endeavored to console him.
B. Maybe Because of an Error in Judgment:
Billy hit his baseball through the neighbors window as he played too close. It was
a mistake in judgment, not something he did deliberately.
1. We have all made them. How many would have far more money invested
for the future, in the right place, if they had not made an error in judgment?
2. We seemingly have chosen the wrong job, or in specialized schooling we prepared for some area that is now overrun with prepared people.
Ned cosigned for his brother-in-laws bank note for a car loan. Six months
later he was paying for it.
3. An error in judgment differs from an innocent mistake in this:
a. Some form of guideline, if followed, would often prevent an error in judgment, (James 1:5-8; Prov. 3:5-6; Psa. 37:4-5)
b. while no guidelines exist to prevent the innocent mistake.
4. Innocent or not, you still suffer. We all use poor judgment from time to time.
5. Often, we suffer because we dont consider biblical principles.
C. It Comes From An Integrity Problem: (Billy is crying from the spanking he received as he had stolen a neighbor boys bat.
1. Sometimes men do wrong with malice -- they sin -- and they must bear the moral consequences and other consequences from their decision.
2. We can make any choices we want but we never have control over the
consequences we may face from the choice.
3. Integrity problems abound in our country today. A lack of integrity has so
permeated our culture that many Christians are tempted to compromise.
4. God gives us principles and commands that apply to situations in life.
D. The Environment Around Us Changes and Suffering is Experienced:
Billy was enjoying a great game of ball with his friends in the street, but they
were sent home because of a change in city ordinances, it was not allowed.
1. Sometimes in our employment, place of work, or business we might be
building -- the politicians change plans, or ordinances, or demands, etc.
a. We are minding our own business -- but life changes suddenly.
b. We are doing our best, but the bank changes its demands or expectations.
2. Or we are suddenly ill, or our child is in an accident, or a child is
a. this results in a environmental change beyond our control;
b. we may suffer dire consequences, even though we may have done nothing wrong.
E. Evil Happens Over Which We Have No Control Can Bring Suffering:
1. Evil does exist! Unfair things do happen!
2. It is not a perfect world, there are unscrupulous people out to get their way.
Billy was playing with some friends and on the way home a bully comes and
beats him up.
F. God Disciplines Us Through Suffering:
1. What God knows what we need though no one else knows. God disciplines when sin is allowed to continue in our lives. (I Cor. 11:28-32)
2. Regardless of the reason for our suffering, God uses such situations to mold
our character. (Consider Heb. 12:7-8.)
G. God Tests Us: (Exod 16:1-4; I Pet. 4:12)
Father told Billy he could not go out and play until he helped his mother
with a number of chores.
1. In Genesis 22:11-12 (and the context) we read of God testing Abraham.
2. God tested the Israelites over and over again. He was seeking to bring about a willingness to serve Him, to be obedient, to do right. (II Cor. 11:21-23)
3. God tests us to see if our character is pure. (Prov. 17:3)
4. The whole book of Job has to do with testing.
If you are getting the idea that suffering is hard to avoid, you are right.
We can suffer because its our own fault, or because its someone elses.
We can suffer by innocent mistakes or as a consequence of our sins.
(Psa. 55:1-6; 22-23)
II. FIVE WAYS MEN TRY TO AVOID SUFFERING:
Before we humble ourselves, when we suffer, we often go through different stages of resistance or rebellion in our attempt to avoid suffering.
(Consider James 4:6-10; I Peter 5:5-6.)
To avoid or resist suffering blocks us from learning from our pain.
(See James 1:1-3.)
Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, then all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
A. We Plead To Be Set Free:
1. We possibly plead for God to set us free from the suffering and its consequences.
2. Or we may react by pleading for Gods sense of fairness. (Psa. 22:1-2)
a. Is it fair for God to treat us so differently than we desire?
b. Our attitudes, thoughts and the way we plead may reveal that we feel God
is not fair and it isnt right that we have to suffer.
c. Consider Psalm 34:19.
d. In Luke 18:1-8 Christ taught the importance of importunity in prayer and
at times, possibly, God is also trying to teach us the importance of continued prayer in the midst of testings and trials.
B. We Are Prone to Compare: Consider Psalm 49:16-17.
1. We feel others do not suffer as we do. (I Cor. 10:13)
2. We may even feel we are better than others and should not have to suffer.
3. Or we may compare ourselves with others and wish we had their lot in life.
C. We Possibly Even Pout:
1. As we ponder what is happening, being greatly discouraged, we have a pity
2. We feel sorry for ourselves and all that we are experiencing.
(See Psa. 73:12-14.)
3. Often we try to rally people around us that they might enter into our self-pity and lament how terrible it is for us.
D. We get Angry:
1. We respond in anger, lift our voices, shake our fists, strike out at others, and may even be angry at God.
2. Often people feel God is the cause of their pain. Will He give us no relief?
Doesnt God care? (See James 1:19,20.)
E. We Doubt God:
1. After our suffering, or in the midst of it, we realize how devastating our
anguish really is and
a. we doubt that God is real, or
b. we become afraid, and perhaps even doubt if God is good or kind.
2. Doubtless, God is trying to get us to see His love, mercy, providential care and
sovereign grace. (Consider Psa. 27:1; Isa. 41:10; 40:28-31.)
1. Its only human to experience a range of emotions and negative thoughts
when we suffer.
2. The solution to our suffering is not how to get it over with but in learning how to enjoy the fellowship of sharing in Christs sufferings. (See Phil. 3:10.)
3. Christs desire is that we -- (See Psa. 40:11-13; Psa. 34; Heb. 4:15-16)
a) do not falter in time of trouble, b) do not be become anxious,
c) endure patiently and d) learn to walk in the Spirit.
III. REASONS WHY SUFFERING IS A PRIVILEGE: (Phil. 1:29; Psa.
A. That we might know the Presence of the Lord. (Heb.