Summary: Purpose of our suffering.

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I preached it at:

o Providence REC 02/23/03



Sexagesima Sunday

I. Intro.

A. Questions

Have you ever considered how boring you are? That the book of life is not about you? That when the movie of our life is over, our own huge struggles against sin - or perhaps I should say our sins and our meager resistance against them - will simply be a footnote at the end that scrolls off before anyone can read it? Do you realize that we are minor characters in a great and vast play that has already been scripted to the minutest detail? That God is much more concerned with His story than with your sins? Is it possible that the meaning of your life is simply to prove Satan a liar?

B. Paul

From the epistle reading today we might be tempted to conclude that Paul was an evil man. Listen to the litany of woes he details in the epistle reading: Stripes above measure, prisons more frequently, deaths often, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, danger of robbers & foreigners, hungry, thirsty, and naked. Yet these horrible events were actually occasions of perverse boasting by Paul.

C. More questions.

How many of you have ever struggled w/God’s seeming lack of care? How many have doubted God because of a good God simply would not have let all this evil occur? I would like to turn to another biblical character who also greatly suffered and see what we can learn from his story. I want us to turn to Job, but first let me give you a helpful illustration that my son learned while listening to a Francis Schaeffer tape.

II. Reality is a book.

Francis Schaeffer used to describe reality as a book with a line drawn down the middle of it, like this. One side represents the visible, and the other, the invisible. If we sunder these two halves, and throw away the part representing the invisible, we still have a book, but it becomes indecipherable. That is what our lives are like apart from Scripture. We can see many things happening to us, but we cannot tie them together to understand why. Only by joining the invisible, which the Bible tells us about, with the visible can we hope to be able to read the book of our lives and understand the plot God has written.

III. Job.

A. Credits.

Like anything worthwhile in my sermons, the best parts are stolen. This time parts of it come from "What Happens When Christianity Doesn’t Work?" by Michael Horton. This article is a funeral sermon for a pastor who took his own life. MH uses the book of Job to try to make sense of this tragedy & to give some Godly perspective on the matter. He helps us to see that contrary to the myriad of books, sermons, and friendly counsel you may have received, Christianity simply doesn’t work. At least not like you think it does. Christianity is no shield from debilitating illness, abuse, divorce, depression, overeating, mental illness, rebellious children, and the like. Listen people, IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE THAT. What our faith is, is the ending of God’s anger against us. Our faith means that God’s wrath upon us is spent; His charges against us are dropped, and His requirements of us are satisfied. Against the backdrop of much suffering, MH brings this out in this article. I highly recommend it. Whoever wants the article may have it after the meeting today.

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