Summary: How do you deal with suffering and traumas in life? The Apsotle Peter gives several helpful teachings for those going through times of crisis and suffering.
Finding Strength in Times of Suffering
A year ago on September 11th every American was in a state of shock when war came to America in the form of the Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center. Since then many individuals and families have suffered and grieved due to the loss of thousands of lives. How due you deal with war and times of trauma in life? How do you find strength in times of suffering?
Peter gives several teachings on the subject of Christians who suffer.
I. Don’t Be Surprised at Suffering - I Peter 4:12
To understand suffering you need an adequate view of God and His creation.
God is our creator. God is not limited to time or space. God is Love and in Him is a complete absence of evil. Ever since the beginning of creation when Adam and Eve disobeyed God the human race has been permanently infected with a tendency toward sin and rebellion.
God in love gave humankind the gift of free will. Every person created by God has the ability to choose their eternal destiny. Free will means that God will not force you to go against your will or force you to follow Him.
God created the first family – Adam and Eve and they had two sons, Cain and Able. Because of free will God did not intervene when Cain murdered his brother Able.
As residents living in a Fallen World we have to adapt to a world in rebellion against God.
Human Suffering is the result of living in a sinful world.
Last Sunday evening I concluded the study of the book of Revelation. The risen Lord gave John a vision of the end times. Do you want to know how human history ends? Read Revelation. Revelation gives an explanation for evil and suffering in this present world.
Prior to the creation of the first family, Adam and Eve, there was war in heaven. Lucifer- Archangel like Michael – was not satisfied to be under the authority of God, his creator. Lucifer want to be like God and in control of the entire creation of God.
Lucifer – Ancient Serpent – was present in the Garden of Eden and tempted Adam and Eve to disobey their God. The first family yielded to the Serpent’s temptation and disobeyed God and sin entered into the human race. Since the creation of humankind, Satan, the devil, has been creating havoc and turmoil on earth. Satan is the god of this world.
Satan’s time is short. A day is coming when he will be sealed in the pit of Hell forever and ever. Hell was created for Satan and his demons angels. The devil knows his doom and destiny is sealed.
As long as we are living in our human physical body we will be under the attacks of Satan. We will experience pain and suffering, but a day is coming when God will give us a new spiritual body that will be like the resurrected body of Jesus and we will suffer no more. There will be no more pain or sorrow or heartache.
We are to expect suffering in this world. (John 16:33) But I am the first to admit that there is a mystery about suffering.
I don’t know why my mother died at an early age of 62? I know she is with the Lord but she didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her 13 grand children. Her vital faith continues to be an encouragement to me.
I don’t know why a pastor friend, Mendal Daningburg at the age of 37 was struck with cancer. We were studying together at Asbury Seminary for our Doctor of Ministry. From time to time early in the morning we would play racquet ball and in the afternoon after classes play tennis. On occasion Mendal said he had a heavy feeling in his chest. Later that year the doctors found a large tumor that was cancerous. He died the following year and left a wife and two children and the Fredonia, NY FMC without a pastor.
Years later I worked with his son in several times of training. His son is now serving as a Free Methodist Pastor in NY.
There is a mystery to suffering but we know that God understands suffering and pain. Jesus experienced suffering and pain beyond human understanding when he died for our sins and took on himself the sins of the world. Through His shed blood we are forgiven of sin an set free from the bondage of Satan’s grip and have the hope of eternal life and a day when all suffering and pain will be over.
When Peter wrote that Christians can expect to suffer for the cause of Christ he knew what he was talking about. He saw firsthand what happened to Jesus: how he had been arrested, convicted, mocked, beaten, and put to death. He and the others knew that because of Jesus’ name, they could expect the same kind of treatment from the world! Yet, they also saw Jesus rise from the dead and ascended into heaven, so they stood up boldly and testified to the entire world. They weren’t afraid of those who could hurt the body. They rejoiced in their suffering and trusted in God. With this attitude, Peter was inspired by God to write the words we read today. First Peter was intended to be circulated among several different churches: some would only experience persecution in the future, some were just beginning to experience persecution, and some were already right in the middle of it.