Summary: Suffering is partr of the human condition. We see John addressing two very important questions in minds of those who will receive this letter. The first question “Why all this suffering?” The second: “Is there point to the suffering?"
“Endure Suffering Patiently”
This morning, we’re in our fifth message in our series through the book of Revelation. It comes from Revelation 6-7 so if you’d go ahead and take your Bibles and turn to that passage, it will help as we move forward this morning.
A salesman was traveling on a rural road. From down a side road came a farmer driving a pick-up towing a stock trailer with a horse in it. The truck collided with the salesman’s car.
Awhile later, the salesman was trying to get the farmer’s insurance company to pay for his medical bills and some kind of settlement for the farmer’s negligence in the accident. The insurance adjuster asked, “How come you’re claiming damages now when the police report shows that you answered the question ‘Are you hurt’ with a response of “No.”
The salesman told the insurance adjuster, “Someone had removed me from my car and I was lying on the road in a world of pain. Someone said the horse had a broken leg so the deputy sheriff who responded to the accident shot the horse. When he turned to me and asked, “Are you alright, I told him that I was doing fine.”
Revelation 6-7 deals with suffering. Suffering is a universal condition. Augustine said, “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” Jesus was a suffering savior.
Is. 53:3-6 – He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Rembrandt’s painting of the cross is really no different than most of the Renaissance artists: dark ominous skies, the hill, three crosses – Jesus in the middle and a criminal on each side. There are Roman soldiers and a crowd of people – some who’ve come to mock Him and others who’ve come to mourn him.
But when you look closely at Rembrandt’s painting of the crucifixion, there is one strange addition that separates it from other renderings. You will see someone not in 1st century clothing but 17th century clothing. Rembrandt knew enough to paint himself into the picture of the cross.
The human condition is rife with suffering. It may be the death of a loved one, going through the process of treating a deadly disease, it might mean being persecuted for your faith, it might involve starvation and thirst, it might involve enduring great physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Whatever it is, life here on earth is riddled with suffering.
Life is not a string of victories followed by another string of victories. I wish it was. While there are good times in life, we all know, or will know one day, that life is filled with difficulties. Life is filled with pain, disappointment, sickness, tragedy, hurt, and loss.
Remember that the book of Revelation is a letter written to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. These Christians receiving the letter are people who face suffering like few people have ever suffered. They’re persecuted, demeaned, abused, and tormented. Followers of Jesus have been killed outright for their faith.
So, as we go through Revelation 6-7, we see John addressing two very important questions in minds of those who will receive this letter. The first question: “Why all this suffering?” The second: “Is there a point to all this suffering?”
The Earthly View
Rev. 6:1-17 – I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.