Summary: Learning to let go of situations in life you can’t handle and how to let God take control!
Why me, God…why am I going through this? Have you ever thought, whispered, or screamed that question? Have you ever thought that God was against you personally? At one time or another, everyone does, even people in the Bible. That is not surprising. What is surprising is God’s answer to their questions.
It is strange to start this message by reading from 1 Peter 3:13-17 but let me say this, it is a text that relates to the example that a man who suffered much in the Old Testament gave for us to learn from in times of trouble.
Now I know many of you have heard the story of Job, but hear it again and you might just learn something new or maybe you might have just missed something important that God wanted you to know.
Job loved God, and everything was going great in his life. He had money, land, possessions, and a large, wonderful family. But one day his world fell apart. He lost everything except his life, a bitter wife, and accusing "friends." As you might imagine, Job asked why. Why him? Why now? The book of Job tells this story, and it gives God’s reply. And after God spoke, Job was silent. Job is a book about success, tragedy, marriage, friends, and faith. As you read the book of Job, allow God to begin changing your ideas about suffering. Learn to trust God even when things just don’t make sense or you don’t understand.
God controls all life and history, present and future. He uses even human suffering and misfortune to accomplish His purposes. At times we cannot say such misfortune is divine punishment for personal sin. We have no explanation for it; instead, we have to accept our situation as being under God’s control. Weigh our alternatives prayerfully and reasonably, and act. In time we may discover how God is working even through our afflictions. In the midst of trouble we can only confess that God is at work in our lives and that we do not understand what is happening. Having passed through suffering, we may find other explanations for this dark side of life. We will at least confess that God is good and what He does cannot ultimately be called evil.
Through history we have been able to read and hear of the many servants of God who have been through some tough times in there lives, but were able to overcome by prayer and faith. There experiences and their ability to overcome suffering is what we as Christians can use in our own personal lives.
We can follow the examples of the many great men and women in the Old Testament such as Ruth, Sara, Deborah and Esther; Joseph, Job, Jeremiah, Hosea and Habakkuk. We can also follow the example of those in the New Testament such as Maria, Joseph, The Disciples and Apostles and the one and only Jesus Christ. There are also those in past times that we can take their experiences and learn from them such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards. There are also those in our days that we can take their experiences and learn much from them such as our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ and our pastors. All these great women and men of God whether in Bible times, in past times or in our present time were all able to persevere and endure in the faith and rely on God’s provision and grace.
Suffering refers to negative experiences that Christians interpret as evil, but that is not always the case. Suffering may not always be evil. Suffering can come because we sin against God or because our faith may be tested. God is ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the world, but His actions and reasons are justifiable and righteous in every way. God allows Satan to cause some evil and suffering, but Satan is not equal to God in power nor authority, in nothing. God allows human beings to misuse their freedom causing some evil and suffering.
The physical world is good as created by God, but disturbances in nature can produce human suffering. It goes all the way back to the time Adam and Eve sinned against God. Ever since, because of the sinful nature in this evil and perverse world, we have come to suffer.
The Bible distinguishes several types of suffering. When God punishes sinners, suffering is deserved. Some suffering is innocent, a testing of the believer’s faith like in the case of Job. God may allow Satan or human beings to be the direct causes of this type of suffering as in Job’s experience. Jesus suffered vicariously for the sins of others. Not all suffering can be explained as punishment for sin. Sometimes we go through a process in suffering without committing sin. Through this process we are tested. God helps us mature spiritually and the Holy Spirit fulfills His purpose and work in our lives, but only if we allow Him to work in our lives, can this process be completed. We must try to understand the purpose of the suffering that we are going through in our daily lives.