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People are justifiably suspicious of people who appear to have lived lives of ease - - - AND - - Jesus suffered in every way possible while He was on earth. (You can look to Jesus in your suffering - - He's been there...)
The Reasons for Suffering
- God uses suffering as punishment
When David was punished for numbering the Israelites in 1 Chronicles 21:2, God gave him 3 suffering choices: three years of famine, three months of defeats from Israel's enemies, or three days of pestilence and death at the hands of God's angel.
- God uses suffering to demonstrate his power
Consider the blind man in John 9 who had been blind his entire life - -
- John 9 - - Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind 1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man." 10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded. 11He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see." 12"Where is this man?" they asked him. "I don't know," he said.
- Suffering builds perseverance and character
James 1 - Trials and Temptations - 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
- Suffering keeps us humble
- 2 Corinthians 12 - 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Avoidance of Suffering
In the United States, our lack of suffering is a great obstacle in communicating Christ's plan for hurting people in third and fourth world countries. However, in the U.S., rich people suffer with poor people- - just differently.... We are the richest country ever in the world -- and yet our suicide and crime rates are extremely high....
Remember - - God is sovereign and has our suffering held firmly in His hand - - He is in charge of all things that happen to us - - good and bad - - consider God's sovereignty over Jesus going to the Cross:
The author then told the story of his father, Jim Elliott and his mother Elizabeth - - - it's a fabulous story....
The author added - - "I dont think we should seek suffering - - life brings enough of it on its own. But what I do advocate is that suffering is an important prerequisite ministering to hurting people."
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