Summary: The effects of persecution and struggle caused the church to grow and experience more of God’s power. We can experience God in struggle and pain because He is found in suffering and walks with us through it.
The God of Suffering: How we can experience God in struggle, pain, and suffering.
Intro: How do you feel about struggle, suffering, and pain?
Explanation: Acts 10-11
1. Peters has a vision for all people…(“all nations”)
2. Everyone is not happy…
3. A new church is born out of struggle
Text: Acts 11:19-30
We can experience God in pain and suffering because…
I. The church grows in pain and suffering
1. Because we spread out (literally and spiritually) v. 19
2. Because we are sensitive to others v. 20 (we all cry)
3. Because God is in suffering and people turn to God v. 21
Illus: Jacob struggled with God
Has our struggle caused us to spread out, to see others’ pain, to point them to God, or do we withdraw into self-pity?
II. Struggle and suffering reveals the grace of God…
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…Heb. 4:15
1. Because specific people respond v. 22 (who will we send?)
2. When we see gladness in suffering v. 23
3. Because we have the power of the Holy Spirit and faith v. 24
4. Because God is in the “silent” times of life. 1 Kings 19:12 If you are struggling, you are in good company.
What are we focused on? Do we see the grace of God in struggle or only the pain?
III. Pain and suffering deepens relationships
What is the closest relationship you have?
1. Because one is not enough v. 25 (Two is better than one)
2. Because relationships take T-I-M-E v. 26
3. Because Christianity is about relationships v. 26(feel their pain)
Are our relationships growing in struggles, or are we isolated?
IV. Suffering creates opportunities 27-30
1. For spiritual insight into problems v. 27-28
2. For response to problems v. 29 (Who you gonna call?)
3. For solutions to problems 29-30 (Not the government)
Are we seeing what is ahead, planning to respond, and actually taking action, or waiting for someone else to solve it?
Conclusion: Is it worth it? Is the outcome of struggle worth it?
Illus: Europe: They are aborting babies with cancer gene.
1. What about war? Was WWII worth it?
2. We know the outcome, they didn’t…
3. What determines a “good life?” Does length or level of struggle determine the value and goodness of life?
We don’t have to expect suffering. The Church did not park the car in suffering – they moved on. Some people make a living off struggle – but we can use it to become better people. But struggle is part of life. Struggle does not make you a bad Christian, but perhaps a strong Christian.
What if there was no suffering? But there is! There is no point in that question…the only point is what can we get out of it. Is it possible that when we avoid suffering we avoid God? We can experience God in struggle and pain because He is found in suffering and walks with us through it.