Summary: This is part of a series I did on topics my congregation requested. Several of these messages are two parts.



Sunday April 30, 2006

Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 4:12-19


A. Today we are beginning a new sermon series called “You Asked For It.” These are sermons on subjects that you have requested. I am very excited about sharing this series with you for a few reasons. One is that I have thought about doing a series like this for several years but just never felt that God’s timing was in it, but now that I feel His leading to do this I am excited about what is in store for all of us. Secondly I am excited because as I have been preparing for these sermons for over a month now I think that God is going help us get a handle on some of the issues that could well be holding some of us back from having a deeper more meaningful relationship with God.

B. We are going to start this series with what many surveys tell us is the number one topic of concern for Christians not only today but for all of human history, the subject of suffering. The greatest problem for most Christians and even for many non-Christians is “Why does God allow awful things to happen?” If God is so good and so powerful then why do things like 9-11 happen? Why are innocent children abducted off the street and then raped and killed? Why does a tornado touch down on one house killing everyone inside and then leave the house right next door unscathed? These are just some of the things that for most of us make no sense whatsoever. Why do people we love who are so young and have so much of life ahead of them develop cancer and die, some times a very slow agonizing death? Where in the world is God in the midst of all this suffering?

1. You have asked these questions yourself, right? If you are a normal person, Christian or not you have asked questions like this. I am not going to pretend today that I have all the answers to these questions. [] I am not going to be like the preacher in an English movie called “Whistle IN The Wind”. In this movie a brother and sister had experienced the death of a pet kitten. They had both prayed fervently for the cat to be healed but instead it died. They could not understand why so they decided to go see their local pastor to ask him why. The pastor really did not want to be bothered by these seemingly trite questions but he decided to try and help them. The pastor entered into a long, complex, theological response as to why their kitten had died. The children stood silent and attentive to the pastor as he spoke and when he finished the children walked away bewildered by what he had said. The little boy, holding his older sister’s hand as they left looked up at her and said, “He doesn’t know either does he?”

2. I will not have all the answers to every question but I do know that the bible does tell us some things that can greatly help us as we face the great mystery of suffering in this life. I discovered in my research that there are many more scriptures that deal with the issue of suffering than I had ever realized before. In fact it would be quite simple to do an entire series on this one topic alone but since I have five other topics to share with you I cannot spend five or six weeks on this topic, but what I will do is spend two Sundays on this issue. I had planned to do just one week but after doing my research and preparation there was just no way I could confine what I need to share with you in just one Sunday. So I will come back this subject on May 14th after I share my annual report with you next Sunday.

3. One thing I want to make very clear to you today is this. If you are hoping to go away from this message with the answer as to “WHY” Christians suffer you are going to be disappointed. I just want you to know up front that I cannot answer that question because I am convinced that this side of heaven the answer does not exist. The only answer I found that comes close to being satisfactory I found in a quote by C.S. Lewis who when asked, “Why do the righteous suffer? Why Not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who can take it.” That’s a pretty good answer but it still leaves a lot of blanks unfilled. Another reason I don’t feel we can ever have the “WHY” question answered in this life is because of incident with Jesus in John chapter 9. You may remember that this was in incident where Jesus confronts a man who was born blind and the first question his disciples asked was, “Who sinned that caused this man to be born blind?” I cannot spend time reading this story to you but if you will go back and look it up for yourself you will discover that Jesus never answered their “Why” question. If Jesus felt it was important for us to know the “Whys” don’t you think he would have told them and us? Since the “why” is not critical about suffering then what is? That is what I hope to offer to you today in the remaining minutes I have to speak.

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