Summary: This is a sermon on suffering from The Exchanged Life perspective which seeks to bring believers to victory and peace through such suffering.
Every Christian knows what it’s like to be in a storm. We’ve all heard the saying – we’re either IN a storm, just came OUT of one, or you’re headed INTO a storm. In fact, our storms are tailor made for us. Our storms are designed to show the sufficiency of our Lord Jesus Christ for our lives. How else would the world ever see the glory of God in our lives if we were never tested, tried or tempted? How would those around us know wherein our strength lies if we were never in the whirlwind of tribulation? What would it mean for Christians to proclaim the all-sufficient Christ who is our strength in times of weakness unless that proclamation could be revealed in our lives?
Many times we are burdened down because of the load placed on us and our first instinct is to rebel against it. As followers of Christ we will face tests of our faith time after time and season after season. Whether we pass or fail is determined by whether or not we put our faith in Christ and in what His Word says. In James 1:2-4, we read, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 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.”
The KJV has divers or diverse temptations which means all different kinds of trials which are difficulties which come from outside our lives. And the trials we encounter are for us specifically – for a number of different reasons. The number one reason being for the glory of God to be revealed in our lives. God knows what He wants to accomplish in and through our lives. He knows what it takes for us to be a witness of His power flowing through our lives. Beloved, remember this: when all is accomplished through our trials, testing, faltering and stumbling we will be as gold tried in the fire and made into a vessel fit for His use. God brings peace into our storms because:
I. God’s Desire is to Bring us to Maturity
Our God wants to bring us into spiritual maturity which can only become ours as we experience not only the joys of being a Christian, but also the teaching and training which must take place in our lives if we’re to be what we’re meant to be. We must sometimes be placed into the firey furnace of afflictions to melt the dross and become pliable in the hands of our heavenly Father. You see, the line that separates us as followers of Jesus from the world of unbelievers is summed up in one word – FAITH. We know that Jesus Christ lives inside of us whether we’re going through good times or bad. In every trial, every heartache, every difficulty God is with us because we have believed the Word that was preached to us. We have received the Word, and because of this, faith should be as natural as breathing. Paul said in Romans 8:28, “God works all things together for good . . . “ And here James says “count it all JOY! “
Now this is where the hard part comes in. You say, “Okay, Lord I realize I’m being tried beyond my limits. I realize this is too heavy and if I can just crawl back into bed, pull up the covers and hide in my misery then maybe I can make it.” Isn’t that where most people are when their world is shattered by trouble? But listen to what God says – He says, stand up and count it all joy. Demonstrate to the world that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Stand up and face those excruciating circumstances and demonstrate to an unbelieving world around you that God’s Word is true. Let those around you see that Jesus Christ IS your strength, your sufficiency and your LIFE. It’s His life that’s inside you not YOURS! God brings peace into our storms because:
II. Nothing Happens Behind God’s Back
Folk, we can have His peace in the midst of the storms of life because nothing happens behind God’s back. He has allowed us, for His own reasons to be a partaker of the sufferings of Christ. Our Savior was tempted in all ways, even as we are and was always victorious – standing on the Word of God. He suffered even as you suffer. He carried the same heartaches, burdens and disappointments as you and I do, yet he never sinned. We deal with unfaithful relationships – He did too! We stand at the graveside and weep – He did too! You suffer the pains of this mortal body – He did too! We suffer, we weep, we mourn – Jesus did too, but it’s through His victory in all these things that we have victory in our own sorrows.