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Tough Meat

 

Thank you for joining us again this week for our HomeChurch service. I began a message last week in which I began to talk about the meat of the gospel. We looked at passages that state that after a certain point in Christian maturity we ought to move on to the meat of the Word. This week I want to talk about something that is a little hard to swallow but necessary for us to accept. The subject this week is suffering. We are going to look at some scriptures that talk about suffering and God’s character. We will look at Godly people who have suffered.  In fact, Christians often suffer in ways that the un-saved do not.

Of course, you realize that I’m not going to give you a message without scripture to back it up. Before I really start let me say that I have noticed a trend in the church services to teach that Christians are privileged “King’s Kids” and therefore protected from anything harmful. In fact, the doctrine taught is that we, the Born-Again, are blessed and pampered by the Heavenly Father and there is mockery regarding anyone who says that Christians suffer.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that we have protection from the Father.  But as we shall see, we cannot always explain why we suffer. To begin with let me share something. Many speak a quote that they truly believe is in the Bible. That erroneous quote is that God will never allow us to go through more suffering than we can bear. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:13. Here Paul tells us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear but will make an escape. Many people have mis-quoted this to mean that He won’t allow us to go through suffering beyond the level that we can’t bear. This is not true! You and I often suffer more than we can bear and without Christ to share our burdens we would not make it. Jesus said to cast all of your care on Him because He cares for you. Logically, if you were not allowed to suffer more than you could bear why would Jesus ask us to have Him bear our burdens?

Let us begin in the Book of Job to see some things that God has revealed to us. Job is thought to be one of the oldest books in the Bible. I believe that it was given so that God’s people would recognize why they often suffered and that we could get a glimpse of the other side. Job chapter 1 gives interesting information on Who is in control and some things that take place in the heavens.

The first five verses tell a little background of Job and his family. The Word says that Job was a righteous man (v1) and also wealthy. His children often had parties that Job suspected may have led to sin and he often sacrificed and prayed for them that God would forgive them. In verse six there is a clue as to something that takes place. There was a day when the Angels and Satan had to present themselves to God to give an account of what they had been doing. Satan must be understood as the accuser of the Brethren (Revelation 12:10) and that he constantly does this with God’s people.

Friend, that is a very important point. Satan hates God and His people. He cannot out power God but he can accuse us before God. Perhaps you have children and they have erred. Suppose you had a neighbor who hated you. Let’s also suppose that he could do nothing to you but wanted to attack you in some manner. He might go after your children instead. He might accuse them of something they either did or did not do. Satan’s tactics are to go to God and accuse you and me of sin before the Father.

In Job 1:8 we see another important verse. It was God who brought up Job first. Now, you might start to get upset at this but remember that this is meat that not everyone can swallow. We know that God is a loving, caring Father that always does what is best for His children (Luke 11:11-13). He cares for us better than the best earthly father ever could. Many people today are at a loss about what a good father is. Not everyone has had a loving father to raise them.

That is part of the problem today. We cannot begin to understand how a good father sometimes chastises his children unless we have experienced that for ourselves firsthand. I can tell you that I had a kind, loving Dad who knew what it took to drive my foolishness far from me (Pro 22:15)! He loved me enough to correct me.

But the real problem is when we suffer for apparently no reason, isn’t it? I mean, think about how we perceive justice and God’s omnipotence. We assume that because God is all-knowing and ever-present He would immediately snap to and pronounce judgment on a situation of injustice. But let us go back to Job.

Job’s character was brought up to the devil because God knew something about Job that he wanted proven or tested. It was not because of what Job did wrong but because of what he did right. That’s correct; look at verse 8. God was bragging on Job and saying that there was no one like him in the earth. God would not have done this if there had been a chance that Job would have failed.

So satan was given some control of what he could do to Job. But this was limited as to how far he could go (v12). Here is another piece of meat. Satan does have power. Even though you may suffer because of him, the devil’s power is limited. God can allow or block harm from you (v10). So at this point we must examine why God would allow satan to harm at all. When we examine scripture end-to-end we see that God never harms people, ever. We suffer for three reasons.

First we suffer because of the fall of man. Adam fell into the devil’s trap and caused a fall in humanity from the will of the Father. Hell was never created for mankind. God says that it was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). When Adam fell, all of his descendants fell as well. I know that a lot of people have issues with this doctrine. Every living thing on this planet takes after their parents. For this reason all cats purr at the same frequency, whether they are house cats or tigers. Dogs bark and never chirp like birds. We understand those principals but overlook the fact that we have a sinful nature because our forefathers did.

When Adam fell, sin entered the world. There was separation between God and man. Our suffering is often caused because of someone else’s sin. If a drunk driver kills an innocent child it was not because the child was at fault. It was because of the sin of someone else. We all suffer because of others sin no matter how remote it is from us.

Second, we suffer because of our own sin. God allowed Israel to fall into the hands of their enemies when they refused to follow God and He allowed them to suffer the consequences of their poor decisions. As parents, we must sometimes give our children to their own choices and allow them to suffer their own mistakes. Of course, when they are young we make every decision for them. But as they mature we must let them make choices even though we know that they will suffer. So we often suffer from making poor decisions and God allows us to do it.

Does this mean that God has caused us to suffer in either example? No. In these two reasons we suffer from sin; ours and someone else’s. The third reason we suffer is the one that is the hardest to understand because we don’t see everything. We suffer sometimes because God has a divine purpose for an eternal reason. In John 9:1-3 Jesus explained to His disciples that suffering is sometimes not from sin but so that God’s power would be at work in our lives.

His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and His thoughts are higher than ours. We cannot explain why someone who is doing God’s will is mysteriously taken from us. Before you plan on writing and telling me your story of suffering and how God was unfair to you let me tell you that I have suffered much also. I have experienced unexplained suffering and loss for apparently no good reason. I have seen good men and women lose almost everything even though they lived devout lives for God.

I knew of a man who was beginning his adult life just out of BibleCollege. He was headed for the mission field and died in car wreck two weeks after marrying his childhood sweetheart. His widow didn’t give up on God but conceded that there were some things that she could not understand. She remarried and has a beautiful family now.

Reading the book of Job we find the conclusion of why he suffered; because God said so. It was not because he sinned as some modern pastors teach. It was just because the Almighty allowed him to suffer. In the end God blessed him with more than he had before (Job chapter 42).

Now, the real question is will we allow suffering to separate us from God by becoming bitter or will we allow it to draw us closer to Him? There was a day when I had to concede to God that I could not explain some suffering I that I was going through. After several weeks of sulking before Him I finally had to give up. I prayed, “Lord, I can’t explain why this happened and why I went through this. I see no good coming out of it but I will not let it change my love for You.” Immediately, the Holy Spirit spoke John 20:29 to me ( blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed). Here Jesus is addressing Thomas after he had stated that he needed to see before he believed. Jesus says that he believed because he saw the evidence but that those who have not seen and still believe are blessed. When He spoke this to me I fell to my knees in total surrender to God. Sometimes we will not see God in a situation. But if we will Love Him anyway He will do miraculous things in our lives.

Have you gone though something in your life that you never could explain? Perhaps you’ve suffered great loss in spite of the fact that you served God faithfully. Maybe you still can not get over something. Let me say that as soon as you let go of it and completely turn your trust to God you will be set free from bondage in your life. If we believe the quote that God won’t allow us to go through more than we can bear and then have a terrible loss in our life we might just give up on God in anger. But, if we have the knowledge of truth that sometimes we suffer for some unknown reason and that in the end God will bring us through it we can rely on Him to deliver us.

There is much more scripture on God’s people suffering. I can suggest that you go through the book of 1st Peter and carefully take in what God is saying. May the Lord bless you in the study of His Word this week.

 

Prayer-Father, we accept that things happen sometime that we cannot explain. We see no good coming from them and it is hard for us to get over. Today I pray that we would have grace to go beyond what we can grasp. Let us have courage in times of suffering so that we might glorify You.

In Jesus’ Name I pray-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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4 Responses to "Tough Meat"

  1. Lisa E. says:

    Paul, I can’t begin to tell you how much this message has resonated with me. I had just finished talking with someone about the suffering which my family and I have had to go through recently,when I got an email notification saying this message was posted. I came right on over-not knowing what to expect from a title called, “Tough Meat”- and was blown away by God’s timing.

    You’re right about that verse in 1st Corinthians. I know for an absolute fact that the only reason I’m here is because He’s helped me to bear up.

  2. Virginia says:

    Paul, Thank you for explaining this to me. I’ve read the book of Job over and over again throughout the years and could never understand why God allowed this to happen. Especially after being taught that God would never allow us to suffer more then we could handle. Then after reading your post today, I now understand it a little better.

  3. David Pierce says:

    It occurred to me as I read your words that perhaps sometimes someone suffers pain in companionship to one that has a lesson to learn from our Lord. Our suffering only strengthens us and our faith in our Lord while the one the suffering / lesson to be learned is for their benefit, not ours. The Lord does punish his own in order to bring them back in line with his will. I think that those close also suffer some pain in the situations.

    1. paul paul says:

      I agree David-many times we suffer for no apparent reason. We just can’t see God’s ultimate plan. We should always look for the eternal perspective.
      In Christ
      Paul

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