A Role of Suffering

I have been teaching for over twenty years now.  I am pleasantly surprised when students bring up things that are new to my way of thinking.  A recent example was a student who was writing about various religions views of suicide.  I have always approached the Christian perspective from the view of the sacredness of human life, that we are made in the image of God, that life is a gift and we should not waste it.  This young student in her report spoke about how a person who commits suicide is not appreciating the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

The student became the teacher.

I should have know that.  I should have seen that.  I have dealt with the question of suffering, but never for some reason as a response to thoughts of suicide.

It got me thinking again about the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

II Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

I.  We Suffer

Suffering comes in various forms.   The first that most people think of is probably physical suffering.  I have recently undergone hip replacement surgery.  My hip was severely degraded.  The person doing my initial screening for the surgeon, was surprised that I was still walking.  I had been dealing with various degrees of pain in my hip for about five years.  There are many people who suffer physically in a wide variety of ways.  How we respond to that physical pain can be a testimony to those around us.

Physical suffering is one thing.  Pain of the heart is something else.  There are many forms of disappointment, sorrow, stress and other experiences that may affect our hearts and minds.  Again, what we do with those feelings is important.

II.  We Are Comforted

A.  Suffering Will End:  God is able to bring healing.  God is able to bring comfort and peace.  We can bring our concerns to God and know that He is able to bring resolution.  The issues may, or may not be resolved in this life, but we can know that His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9) God has promised to be with us, to never leave us.  We are told that we can ‘do all things through him who strengthens us’  (Philippians 4:13) We do not face our suffering alone.

We also have the ability to look ahead.  We know there will be no suffering in heaven.  We may need to be patient.

B.  We are Comforted:

1.  By God:  The most important comfort that we receive is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  God is able to lift us above whatever suffering we may face.  In His presence we find great joy and peace.  This joy and peace is not dependent upon external circumstances, but rather is dependent on the relationship that we have with God.

2.  By Others:  We are not meant to face the trials of this life alone.  Not only is God with us, but we are meant to have a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ which is meant to be supportive.  We should have friends in the Lord with whom we may share our burdens.  We should be able to talk with each other, pray with each other and help to comfort one another with the comfort of Christ.

III.  We Comfort Others

As we have successfully dealt with suffering in our own lives, as we have received the comfort and consolation of Christ, so we can offer that comfort and consolation to others.  This is especially true when people are going through an experience that is similar to what we ourselves have gone through.  Certainly, each of us do not have to experience all forms of suffering, but there is something about the person who can truly relate with us because of similar experiences.  So, perhaps God allows us to suffer, so that we can truly relate to others who suffer.  We can offer hope, even as we have received hope.

Offering comfort and hope to those who suffer is truly a wonderful thing.

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/5/20.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

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