Summary: Suffering is a Human Reality and there are some important facts to always remember - 1. Our God is a Good God 2. Our God shares in our Suffering 3. Suffering can lead us to experience greater spiritual transformation in our lives
Title: God and Human Suffering
Suffering is a Human Reality and there are some important facts to always remember - 1. Our God is a Good God 2. Our God shares in our Suffering 3. Suffering can lead us to experience greater spiritual transformation in our lives
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world!
All of our passages this morning have a central theme: that of suffering.
We see it first in our story concerning the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. They have been rescued from Egypt and are on their way to the Promise Land. Our LORD is supply their bread (manna) along the way but now they have come to a point where they cannot find water. We all know that food is of little value if one cannot find water. You can go for weeks without food but only a few days without water. For the elderly, young children and infants that time is even less.
Here God's people are in the Sinai Peninsula near the area of Rephidim and are grumbling because they are suffering. Before we take them to task over their lack of faith or grumbling we must take a moment and walk in their shoes. By now they have been walking/traveling for weeks and have traveled well over 250 miles. They are tired, sore and grumpy. Having grown up around the level plains of the Nile they were not physically or emotionally ready for all of this wilderness/mountain traveling . Nor did they anticipate that their trip would include periods of times of testing, trials and suffering. And so when they begin to suffer a little they complain. Sounds like us at times doesn't it?
Our extended passage in the Gospel of John centers around a woman who bore the scars of some deep suffering. No one who loses five husbands has escaped the pain and tragedy of deep suffering. Whether she lost those husbands through sickness, death or divorce we can be assured that her heart had been broken many times. Her life had been in constant turmoil.
The picture John paints for us is one of a woman who was now suffering from the pain of a man who didn't love her enough to marry her but had chosen only to have her as his partner. While we may not have approved of her life at this time we must not judge her to harshly. After all, in her day what were her options? Very few widows at that time could take care of themselves or their children. More than likely she was destitute and had no other choice but to connect with this man. All we truly know is that when she meet Jesus she was suffering from a great deal of pain - emotionally, socially, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Our Romans passage speaks to us about the reality of pain and suffering in this life. The Apostle Paul begins our passage first by sharing with us some very great news:
+In verse one, he shares with us the Good News that we can be at peace with God. Paul shares with us that in Christ we can experience the reconciliation of all reconciliations. We can know that our sins have been forgiven and we can experience a deep and loving relationship with God that had been promised since the beginnings of time.
+In verse two, Paul shares that we can now have direct access to divine grace. Paul uses Temple language to speak of the closeness one can now experience with the LORD. In Christ, we are able to breathe in the sacred air of the power and presence of God. We are able to soak in God's goodness, love, mercy, wisdom and joy. Wow!
And then the Apostle Paul takes us into verses 3-5 and begins to share with some words about the realities and potential benefits that can come through suffering. He wants us to understand that suffering is both a necessary path and it is one that he and his readers already know so well.
Suffering is usually a subject that we don't like to talk about. In fact, we would rather avoid the whole issue. Yet, it is something that we cannot and should not avoid. It's a human reality. No matter how large or small a group is you can be assured that a number of the people there are experiencing some trial, test or time of suffering. It's just a human reality.
Today, there are billions of people who are going through all kinds of anguish, agony and suffering.
+There are people living with the uncertainty of some dreaded disease or handicap.