Summary: Helping Christians during suffering
WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER?
Message # 1
THE CAUSES OF SUFFERING
Introduction: Over the years that I have been a pastor, I have been asked various questions. One question that I have never been asked is where did Cain get his wife. I have a good answer for that one. He got his wife from the same place I did- from his mother-in-law. But one question that I have heard over and over again that I feel very inadequate to answer is this one: “Why do Christians suffer?” Never before I had I considered tackling this question. Then one of the dear men I have in my life is asking me the same question recently. I had to answer as I have some many times before that I did not know. One of the things I have learned in the past fourteen plus years in being a pastor is that the answers that we need are found in the pages of this blessed book we call our Bible. Fourteen years ago, I would have not attempted to answer this question because I did not have the resources to do so. Today I have many great resources at my disposal that will help me.
I have learned some lessons in the ministry of being a pastor for the past fourteen years. One of them is this: I am not immune to suffering either. My family is not immune to suffering. One of the hardest parts of the ministry is seeing them suffer. I am not going to give you a sob story. That would be counterproductive to the messages. I am not an expert on this subject. X is the unknown quality and spert is a squirt under pressure.
When my friend who had been serving God longer than I have been alive asked me this question, it sent me to hunting for some answers from the Lord. I thought about it, I researched it, I prayed about it and now I have a few answers from the Lord. I had to take a promise from God and found it to be true.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
In the next weeks, I want to preach on the following subjects to try and answer my friend’s question. I will be preaching on the causes of suffering (that is today’s message), the consequences of suffering, the construction by suffering, the completion of suffering, the critics of suffering and the compassion for sufferers.
Paul calls the suffering of Christians something that we have a hard time understanding in the book of Second Corinthians.
2nd Corinthians 4:17
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
He calls them light afflictions. It does not seem that way to us. We think them to be great and hard.
One truth that I have discovered as I studied this subject is that suffering in the life of a child of God is as individualize as each individual. What may be a trial of suffering for me may be a minor inconvenience in your life.
As I was researching this subject, I ran across two particular pieces of material that put a face to Christians suffering. Lehman Strauss wrote one of them. It is called “In God’s Waiting Room” or “Learning through Suffering”. Dr. Strauss was called away from preaching by his son when his wife of fifty years had a very debilitating stroke that would eventually take her life.
The other was sent to me by one of the men on one of the pastor’s email group in which I belong. Brother John Henry wrote me and told me that material was the comfort to his heart when his mother was dying of cancer.
Both of these brethren have a unique prospective on the subject of suffering. They gave me much food for thought that I plan to pass onto you.
If you have not suffered, hang on. One day you will. It is a universal fact that all men will or have suffered. What is suffering? Before getting to the causes of suffering and I know that I will not be able to give them all, we need to know what suffering is.
Suffering is defined as a loss of position such as Adam’s fall. It is also pain of body. It is rejection. It is anxiety. It can be sickness. It may be persecution and injustice. Or it may be grief and disappointment. It might be pangs of conscience that can lead to repentance. It is punishment such as a person who goes to hell.
Paul told us in both Romans and 2nd Corinthians that our suffering is for a short time. It may seem long to us but in the idea of eternity, it is but a speck of time.