Summary: One reason God allows suffering is so we will depend on him. Suffering shows us the value of God’s grace. Sometimes we think grace was just something way back yonder when we got saved. But we forget that God’s grace is active right now, present tense.
I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit this week telling me to go back and look at verses 3 and 4 of Romans 5 because I know some of you are going through some very difficult times right now, struggling with suffering and pain and tribulation. I hope the Holy Spirit will use this message to encourage your heart today.
There are all kinds of pain out there. There is physical pain, of course, which is sometimes the easiest to deal with. In addition, there is emotional pain, mental pain and relational pain. Dr. Karl Menninger, a clinical psychiatrist in Wichita, Kansas, has listed some of the things we experience in life which causes us the most mental anguish:
1) The death of a spouse
2) The death of a child
3) The death of a parent
4) Divorce, which is the death of a marriage
5) Receiving a bad health report
6) Losing a job
7) Being placed under arrest, or having someone in your family arrested
8) Death of a sibling
9) Death of a grandparent
10) An estranged family member (meaning a family member that you can no longer even talk to)
I have had people tell me they are going through a tough time because as adults they have to look at putting their parents in a long-term facility to care for them. I have others tell me they’re heartbroken because of the divorce of a grown child. They no longer have access to a grandchild who is so precious to them. The sufferings, the pains and tribulations of this life come in all shapes and sizes. None of us are immune to them. Rather than just trying to talk about where they come from, instead, I want us to look at what the Bible says we should do in the midst of suffering. It’s right here in Romans 5:3-4. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.”
A number of years ago, I read a book by Paul Billheimer, entitled “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows.” In other words, if you don’t learn something from the pain and disappointment of life, you basically wasted that experience. Instead, the Bible says, “There is something we ought to be learning from it.
I think there is probably somebody in this room, who has either already gone through all ten of those things I just read a while ago or you are going through them now. It is amazing to me to realize that Sunday after Sunday, there are people seated in these pews, who at that very moment are going through the most desperate crisis of their entire lives. I don’t know who it is, and you may not know who it is, but there are people who come in Sunday after Sunday who are saying, “I am struggling, and I don’t know how I am going to make it.”
I. WHY DOES GOD ALLOW SUFFERING?
Well, God has a word for you today about how to rejoice in your suffering. I want to ask you three simple questions about suffering. Number one, why does God allow suffering? Why, suffering? And, why is not as important as what can I learn from suffering? But let’s look at the answers. Why does God allow suffering? Let me give you at least three answers. There are many others.