Summary: None of us can sidestep the pains, problems, sorrows, and sufferings of life!

1. Everything UNDER THE SUN is vanity & emptiness.

a. That’s the testimony of King Solomon. He had it all.

b. Money. Wisdom. Women. Possessions. Power. Prestige.

c. But it didn’t do it for him. It left him empty & hollow.

d. He writes the book of Ecclesiastes to tell us how it went.

e. At the end he comes to a wonderful conclusion…

Ecc. 12.13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

YES, Everything UNDER THE SUN is emptiness & vanity.

• But EVERYTHING IN THE SON is precious & wonderful.

NOW at first glance, when we hear that… oh you’re right ED.

• Everything in he SON is precious, wonderful, great.

• But what about… broken dreams? Shattered lives?

• What about sicknesses, diseases, pains, sorrows, sufferings?

• They come to us IN THE SON, in God’s will… don’t they?

1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

JOSEPH… spent 13 years in prison, falsely accused. That was after being thrown into the pit by his own brothers…

• From the PIT, to PRISON, to the PALACE – God was at work!

MOSES… spent 40 years in the backside of the desert, alone, isolated, and nowhere near where He believed God would have him.

• God was going to undo all that the world had taught him.

• But when it was time, He rose up to deliver the people of God.

• YET where did he spend the last 40 years? In the desert!

• YES… God was working!

SHADRACH, MESACH, & ABEDNEGO… young, thriving, wonderful men of God, thrown into a fiery furnace bound & tied up.

• But they came out of the fire free.

• The fire didn’t harm them, but freed them from their bonds!

• YES… God was working.

Friends, this is so important, guys listen…

• There is NO WAY WHATSOVER any of us in this room, or listening in on the radio, or CD, or MP3, or POD CASTING… anywhere, anyone listening to my voice… listen..

• There IS NO WAY WHATSOEVER that any of us can sidestep the pains & problems, and sorrows & sufferings of life!

• They come to us all!

I. (4:12) Don’t Think It Strange

1. (12) Don’t be surprised.

a. Now this is the first stumbling block with trials.

b. We DO THINK it’s strange that WE would go through it.

c. It seems strange to us that the righteous suffer while the ungodly seem to have it all.

d. It seems strange to us that of all that we’ve done, our time would be rewarded with pain.

e. It seems strange to us that here we are living for God while others hate God seem to prosper.

f. David the Psalmist really wrestled with this too…

Psalm 73.12-14 (NLT) Look at these arrogant people-- enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. 13 Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong? 14 All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.

That’s the real world guys… good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.

NOTE: As a pastor, what I see on TV makes me sick!

• This constant barrage of false claims that if you just give to their cause, if you just support their ministry…

• You will have SPECIAL FAVOR with God and sickness won’t touch you and 10-fold blessings will follow you.

• If you give, and give right now!

• I’m sick of it because we live in the real world, not TV LAND.

NOTE: We minister to real needs, real suffering, real sorrows…

• Real people suffering with real things and have a genuine, growing faith in Jesus Christ!

• I see things almost every day, difficult things. The kind of things that can cause you to be discouraged in your Christian life

• AND even begin to wonder what’s wrong with me?!

• OR What’s wrong with God? Why has He abandoned me?

Peter says: It’s NOT STRANGE that you’re suffering Christian.

1 Peter 4.12 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.

THE MESSAGE Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job.

2. (13-14) But REJOICE!.

a. Don’t you just love the impossible?

NOTE: Moving to Colorado I’ve met a lot of THRILL SEEKERS.

• Guys that take honeymoons bungi jumping.

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