Summary: (PowerPoint Slides and Cell Study Notes freely available by emailing Emile@Wolfaardt.com) Understanding God’s purpose in the midst of our hardships...
God’s Purposes in Hardship
This morning I want to talk with you about a subject that is close to each and every one of our hearts - and that is this . . .
God’s Purpose in Hardship
As hard as it is, we have to answer the difficult questions. We cannot simply ignore them hoping they will go away.
Life ought to come with a list of side effects. There should be a tag on every newborn baby saying life can be full of fun and adventure and excitement and joy, but there are side effects. There’s illness . . abuse . . . broken relationships. . . betrayal . . . sorrow . . . loss . . . injuries. . . disappointment . . . heartache . . . crime . . .and death.
The truth is that for each and every one of us suffering asks some very hard questions. Why are Christians in Sudan raped, murdered and sold into slavery? Why are Christians in Indonesia tortured and killed for their faith? Why does God not answer our prayers to heal our children or to cause a wayward loved ones to repent? What about our financial woes, or our family challenges, or our work troubles? Why do we face temptations to sin and why does God even permit us to fall into sin? Does the Bible have anything to say about these things?
I want us to start off this morning recognizing three things.
a. God is Conforming Us to Be Like Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:29 "For whom He (God) foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the first born among many brethren."
b. This Conforming Work Is a Process.
2 Corinthians 3:18 "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory."
c. God Is Working in the Very Circumstances You Are Struggling With.
Romans 8.28-29 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son."
May I suggest to you why that is important tp understand? That is important because unless you understand the purpose of hardships, you may find yourself disappointed with God. May I say that again? Unless you understand the purpose of hardships, you may find yourself disappointed with God.
I want to suggest five things that God is doing in your suffering this morning.
1. In Suffering, God Purifies You.
James 1:2-4 "Count it pure joy my brethren whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
You see my friend, the difficult things we experience in life, big and small, are not random freak accidents or streaks of bad luck. They are allowed - and at times even orchestrated BY God to purify us, to root sin out of our lives, and to make us more like Jesus Christ.
It was CH Spurgeon who said, "There is no university for a Christian, like that of sorrow and trail." The truth is that I learned precious little through my comfort and ease, but it is in the school of suffering that I learn the great lessons of life.
2. In Suffering, God Protects You
1 Cor. 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what is able but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also so that you will be able to endure it."
Psalm 119:50 "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."
You see my friend, it does not matter what you are going through this morning, if you will embrace God and His purpose, He will protect you.
Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their 2-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa – to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and soon the 4 of them felt led by the Lord to move out of the central mission station and take the gospel to one of the more remote areas of the Congo.
At the village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. So the two couples decided to go half a mile away and build their own huts.