Summary: As the old expression goes, "There’s light at the end of the tunnel" this sermon tells us that there is hope at the end of the suffering.
¡§Hope Comes Through Suffering¡¨
This morning we are going to talk about hope from the perspective of a man of God who experienced tremendous suffering.
The apostle Paul was the last apostle chosen during the time the first church was getting started. Like the other apostles, Paul was chosen by Jesus, yet in a different way. Jesus was resurrected from the dead at the time of Paul’s calling.
Paul was one of the only apostles who was a learned man. He had been a Pharisee and that requires much study. He is known throughout the bible as a church planter. His work spreads across the Greek areas into Asia. Paul was very successful in his work of advancing the kingdom of God.
His work was not always easy. His writings tell us of many a time when he was persecuted, beaten, went without food or clean water and no place to lie his head. He also spent time in prison, yet throughout his letters, he is noted as the joyous one! Paul had learned to make the most of his sufferings and never complained.
This morning we will see how suffering is the key to hope!
READ ROM. 5:3-5
The apostle begins this chapter with a review of what was just said. The word "therefore¡K" should always cause you to look behind you to see what was just said. Never accept it by itself, but always review what was said before it.
Therefore (since I told you that) let’s move on and look back!
So Paul reminds us that our justification brings peace.
Because of that, we rejoice, knowing that God is glorified.
Look at V:3
"Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings."
What is Paul, a lunatic? Rejoice in sufferings??
When was the last time you saw someone celebrating the loss of a job or the breakup of a marriage?
But really! We’re talking about suffering!
I guess it goes well with the NO PAIN NO GAIN mindset!
We find three reasons why Paul was rejoicing as we look at this passage.
1. Suffering produces perseverance
There is no doubt that going through a long period of suffering is going to cause one of two outcomes. Perseverance or Anxiety!
Most of us would probably say that we don’t like pain. Whether it’s the Doctor, the flu or a back problem, we don’t deal very well with having to get through the days or weeks that these things bring.
Paul Duncan was an Accountant for a large manufacturing firm in Lansing Michigan. When it came to numbers he was the best! But when it came to pain he was a wimp. Paul hated pain of any type. A common cold would set him back for a week. He couldn’t work or do anything.
In 1997 he was diagnosed with Cancer and began a long journey of suffering. He battled through the suffering for over two years until it was in remission. In the end he was a changed man. He had overcome one of the greatest obstacles he had ever faced - pain!
Sometimes we think we have reached our ability to handle pain or suffering, but God knows how much we can handle. He will not allow us to go beyond what we can bear.
That suffering that Paul dealt with was persevered. He did not give up and thus his character was molded and shaped to endure more.
The apostle Paul not only mentions the benefits of suffering, being like Christ, changing our character, but remember he said we REJOICE in suffering!
Why? Could you imagine yourself celebrating through your suffering? Me neither!
The apostle rejoiced because he knew the outcome of suffering which is hope!
Sometimes God uses these situations to make us more like him.
Normally you or I would probably feel a let down, as though God should have been there for us and not allowed our suffering!
But God allows it in order to shape our character!
"Noone enjoys perseverance, but in the end it leads to godliness!"
Let’s look at someone whom God allowed to be mistreated in order that He - God might be glorified and Satan ashamed.
TURN TO JOB
Imagine that you’re sitting in a hospital room, where the faint smell of antiseptic lingers and voices are whispering in the hall.
The medical prognosis of your friend is bleak! You’ve listened to your friends anger and despair, and a jumble of emotions. Now it’s your turn to reply.
Everyone in the room waits for your response.
What do you say to a suffering person?
The book of Job offers lots of ideas of what "not to say" but Job’s friends were not very good at comforting him in his time of despair.
These friends believed that a loving and fair God would not allow suffering unless their was sin involved.