Sermon Notes by Pastor Jon
*I can’t answer this question philosophically because I’m a pastor who deals with pain daily…
*Some look at suffering & say “THERE IS NO GOD…” but they can mean 2 different things:
-Skeptic: NO WAY there can be a God & this happen (at least God of the Bible), OR
-This is SO horrible I don’t know where God is & I feel abandoned (Psalmist; godly people)
*Some DESPAIR in the tough times B/C think Christianity is about their “Best Life Now…”
-They come to God in order for God to give them what they want (health, wealth & happiness)
-As we’ll see, Satan accuses Job of such cheap faith (Job 1:9-11)
-When things go bad these people get mad at God & walk away
-We NEED a stronger faith than God as personal GENIE if we’re to get thru tough times
-B/C suffering WILL COME to ALL of us! Even if we aren’t going thru them now…
*So, how should we understand suffering (bad things, good people)?
*There is a famous story from the Bible of a good man who suffered much…let’s look there.
READ JOB CHAPTERS 1-2 & PRAY…
A. HOW DO PEOPLE DEAL WITH SUFFERING?
1. God is punishing you for your sin (Job’s friends/John 9 > superstitious almost)
*God is ready to zap you b/c you did something wrong
-Job 4:8-9: Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity & sow trouble reap the same. 9 By the blast of God they perish, & by the breath of His anger they are consumed.
-ILLUST: Boy who looked at Playboy was diagnosed w/ need for glasses the next week…
*Let’s be clear: there are TIMES when suffering is a direct result of our sin (affair, drunk driving, etc.)
*BUT, there’s a TON of suffering in the world that CAN’T be explained that way
*Jesus corrects this view in John 9 (Neither!). God corrects it here in Job (not mad at Job)
2. God is NOT powerful or loving enough to stop it
*Some will re-imagine/re-create God > CHANGE view of God to understand their experience
-[You want a God who can transcend your experience]
*The Problem of Evil: If God is ALL-POWERFUL & ALL-LOVING then why is there suffering on Earth?
- There is suffering on earth (no one can deny that)
- So, either God isn’t loving/fair enough to WANT to stop evil & suffering
- OR, God isn’t powerful enough to BE ABLE to stop it…
*Teaching of Rabbi Harold Kushner in his bestseller “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”
-His son was diagnosed w/ “rapid aging” & died at age 14 after terrible illness
-He says: God isn’t able to stop suffering (God doesn’t answer prayers for surgeries)
-“He doesn’t want you to go on having it, but He can’t make it go away. That’s something which is too hard even for God…”
*There’s a LOT we could say BUT I don’t want this to become a philosophy discussion (his pain is real)
*BIG PROBLEM > answer to dealing w/ the “problem of pain” doesn’t DEAL w/ it AT ALL. NO HOPE!
-Answers the question “Why is there suffering?” w/ “B/c God CAN’T stop it!”
-But doesn’t deal w/ the pain; the suffering is still there & no hope it’ll ever be finally dealt w/
3. There is no God (this is the objection > again this is HOPELESS > survival of the fittest)
*BIG HELP! Again it doesn’t deal with the problem, just the intellectual issue…(suffering remains)
*NONE OF THESE WORK! NONE OF THESE MATCHES W/ THE BIBLE > so how should we UNDERSTAND?
B. HOW SHOULD WE UNDERSTAND SUFFERING?
*There are a couple things the Bible says that we need to hold together
1. Suffering is a part of life in a fallen world
*ALL SUFFERING IS THE RESULT OF SIN, just not a person’s specific sin (rather the ORIGINAL one)
-You hair is gray b/c Adam sinned (fall brought sin, death & curse so nothing works right)
-BREAKDOWN/DECAY: disease, relational troubles, $ issues, starvation, earthquakes, death
*Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
*The creation itself is decaying, so we’ll all face it; it’s unavoidable!
-Some want to blame Satan (he’s only part of it), Satan can’t do a thing w/o permission
-God is the one who ALLOWS it (God’s in complete control)
*We know that God is in one way testing Job’s faith, but he NEVER gives Job an answer…
2. Mystery: we don’t always know why suffering happens
*Job never knows WHY (why wouldn’t take the pain away or bring our loved ones back)
*We do KNOW: God is all-powerful & in control! He’s good & loving. He cares for us more than we care for ourselves, so He must have reasons for allowing it, even if we don’t know why this side of heaven!
-God chooses NOT to answer the WHY, instead He gives HIMSELF & says I’m enough (Job38-41)
*So how do we respond? What does God ask us to do? TRUST/WORSHIP HIM IN THE MIDST
*Years ago EV Hill preached his wife’s funeral from Job 1:21, and said that it not only explains the death of his wife (the Lord gives and takes away), but it also gives the appropriate response, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”
C. WE SHOULD RESPOND IN FAITH.
*Job: He gives/takes away, blessed be HIS Name (even when our eyes can’t see)
-Response: tear clothes, fall on floor, and bawl like a baby…THEN WORSHIP!
-It’s OK to cry (stupid to tell someone otherwise), then WORSHIP!
*HOW can you respond w/ FAITH? God is a GOOD & LOVING Father who has a purpose…
-He’s moving the world toward NO SUFFERING
-We get to see the tiniest fraction of what’s happening
-By faith we need to trust that there’s a BIG perspective of what He’s doing in the world
-Illust: Augustine stain glass/Chandler Cowboys & Aliens (walk by faith not sight)
*What are some of the reasons we can trust this? Let me give you a few…
1. Respond in faith because God is WITH you in the suffering
*He promises to be w/ you & NOT abandon you IN the suffering (Romans 8:35-39)
2. Respond in faith because God turns evil into good (Promise of Rm 8:28)
*Times when God allows you to see how he uses difficult situations for your good
- Joseph: Genesis 50:20: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
-If Joseph hadn’t suffered then his family/world wouldn’t have been saved
-See this w/ Jesus on the cross
- Sometimes our character grows in the midst of suffering (if we trust Him)
*Pain is sometimes for our health (If someone who knew nothing about medicine watched a surgery where someone is made unconscious, strapped to a table, and cut w/ a knife they might think thugs are torturing the man. They don’t see the pain of the scalpel is for the good of the man)
*Romans 5: 3-4 we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…
-Paul’s thorn in the flesh (messenger from Satan) > kept Paul from PRIDE
-Loving discipline of God in his life so that he’d know God is enough! (Greatest joy)
-Janice Holden: I thank God for multiple myeloma b/c God has taught me so much
*MAY NOT see at the time but later can see God is working things for our good to make us like Jesus
TRANS > None of the answers given so far get God off the hook, so God comes to put Himself on hook
*We don’t know the answers for all of it, but we do know that he LOVES us & He’s not indifferent to our misery b/c he takes it so seriously he says GIVE IT TO ME!
3. Respond in faith because God suffered like us to end suffering
*Job points us to Jesus (righteous sufferer)…Who in all of history endured the greatest injustice? The greatest evil? The greatest suffering? The answer is GOD!
*Jesus on the cross (God knows what it’s like to lose a child) > takes on the curse to end once for all!
-Lk. 24: 46 Jesus suffered & then entered his glory (abandoned like you)
-Rom 8 we enter if we suffer like Him
-The pain of labor is much different than the pain of a kidney stone because they produce different outcomes. That is why those who go thru the excruciating pain of labor actually volunteer to do it again and again and again. Romans 8 says suffering for the Christian is labor pains that will give way to something wonderful!
*Jesus took on curse of pain/death to end it, & then he walked out of grave free from it’s power
-you can experience this thru union with Him
-Sufferings of present age not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed…
-2 Cor 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (80 years of pain will be as nothing…)
CONCLUSION- HE LOVES YOU AND CAME TO SUFFER WITH YOU AND FOR YOU SO THAT ULTIMATELY SUFFERING WILL BE TAKEN AWAY…
Rev. 21: 4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
You can listen to this sermon here.