Can We Make Sense of Suffering?

Dr. David Jeremiah’s sermon on May 31st was titled, “The Affirmation of Saul’s Conversion.”  The part of the sermon related to Apostle Paul’s suffering, really touched me, and made an impression.  First a text about Paul’s suffering that Dr. Jeremiah provided:

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (New International Version (NIV))

23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

  • What is the point of the suffering Paul went through?
    • God allows suffering to make us into the people we need to be without which we could not be.
  • God is always up to something when he allows suffering in our lives
  • God often will not answer the question of “why,” we have to go through suffering, but he often will answer the question of “what”
    • What are you trying to accomplish in my life with this situation so that I can cooperate with it.

Finally a word from First Peter that Dr. Jeremiah provided.

1 Peter 2:20-21 (New International Version (NIV))

20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

My thoughts on this while living through a great deal of suffering, hurt and disappointment:

  • Above all else we continue to trust the Lord and have an expectation that with Him we will come out of the suffering better than when we entered into it.
  • I can not express enough how often the suffering does not make any sense at all, especially coming to terms with the suffering and the difficulty, the hurt, sense of loss, and the pain
    • Ask God the “what” of the suffering
    • Continue to persevere and to trust
    • Forgive and do not get bitter
    • Continue to hope
    • Know that God is on your side
    • Believe in God’s promises over your life
    • Believe in the grace of God in your life and the righteousness attained through faith in the Lord Jesus
    • The Lord will lead you day by day