Summary: How Do You React to Suffering? - Rom. 8:18
How Do You React To Suffering? - Rom. 8:18
Illustration:Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.
Malcolm Muggeridge, in Homemade, July, 1990.
1. Do you know what you would say if somebody were to ask you, "How should we respond to suffering?" Many people suffer in a variety of ways and in differing degrees.
Although, some of us may suffer physically, most us struggle with mental and emotional suffering. Mental and emotion suffering is caused by a variety of factors, but Paul helps us by teaching us how to properly react to our agony with His ecstasy. Occasionally, when a person is suffering from clinical depression, they may need medication.
However, most of us go through daily mental or emotional anguish not being able to react in a way that always pleases the Lord. Maybe you are suffering in a relationship today. Perhaps you are wrestling with a financial struggle. It could be that you are running into a wave of opposition from those you work with. It could be that there is a current spiritual struggle in your family that is deeply affecting everyone.
Or, maybe there is a heavy burden, fear or anger in your heart about some spiritual issue that is troubling you. It could be that there is some unconfessed sin in our lives that is creating a deep feeling of unrest. It could be we have some Jonahs here today.
Maybe you are saddened by the way that society continues to abandon God and Biblical values. Everyone here is somehow suffering in silence.
Instead of praying that God will remove your suffering learn how Paul responded to his suffering.
Illustration:If we consider the greatness and the glory of the life we shall have when we have risen from the dead, it would not be difficult at all for us to bear the concerns of this world. If I believe the Word, I shall on the Last Day, after the sentence has been pronounced, not only gladly have suffered ordinary temptations, insults, and imprisonment, but I shall also say: "O, that I did not throw myself under the feet of all the godless for the sake of the great glory which I now see revealed and which has come to me through the merit of Christ!"
2. Paul prayed that God would USE suffering to
accomplish His purposes in, through and with his life. The great apostle realized that suffering is a part of taking up our cross and fully following Christ. Jesus said,
"In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Paul wrote this about his response to suffering,
"I have worked much harder than most, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food. I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face the daily pressure of my concern for the churches." (2 Cor. 11:23-29)
Paul uses suffering to enhance his credibility, influence and effectiveness so God could use Him in greater ways for His purposes.
Ask the Lord to help you respond to suffering with Paul’s perspectives, optimism and purposeful determination.
Illustration:Suffering is the heritage of the bad, of the penitent, and of the Son of God. Each one ends in the cross. The bad thief is crucified, the penitent thief is crucified, and the Son of God is crucified. By these signs we know the widespread heritage of suffering.
Oswald Chambers in Christian Discipline.
3. Paul teaches us that creation is standing with eager expectations waiting for the glory that will come with the consummation of history. This suggests that while our surroundings may not be what they were created to be we may still be Biblical optimists. Thank the Lord in advance that God is working out His purposes through your hardships. Job said, "Lord, I know you can do all things and no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:1,2)