Summary: It is a fact of life that we will go through times of trial, pain, and suffering. This is an encouraging sermon that reminds us that God has a plan for us, and that trials give us an opportunity to grow in faith, wisdom, and maturity.
You know, everything happens for a reason. Even before I was saved, I seemed to have the knowing that nothing in life was a coincidence. I just knew that we encounter experiences in life for a purpose, either to learn an important life lesson, or to grow in some way, but more importantly, to shape us into the person that we need to be to face future circumstances that we currently have no knowledge of.
But once I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I encountered an entirely different perspective and understanding of meaning. It was from that point onwards that I understood that not only everything happened for a reason, but there was an all-knowing and loving God who was orchestrating everything in our lives. And I can tell you, that that was a life changing moment.
And I quickly came to realise that we live in a fallen and sinful world. We live in a world where our enemy seems to run rampant. We look at what is happening overseas, and we struggle to comprehend why things happen the way they do. And it leads us to ask the big question that plagues believers and non-believers alike: why do people face trials and pain? Why, in a world where God is sovereign, is there so much suffering around us?
I have worked in aged care for 11 years now. I have seen the long term effects of abuse of various sorts. I have seen the effects of long-term drug use, the effects of emotional and physical abuse in relationships, devastating illness, severe mental health issues where people are tormented continually day and night through psychosis, depression and anxiety.
In my time doing youth work, I have seen the effects of physical and emotional trauma on the young people of today. I have seen the effects of people who have been threatened with their life, of sexual abuse from a young age. As foster carers, my wife and I have had the effects of that living under our own roof.
I have experienced the generational effects of trauma in my own family. My grandparents on my father’s side were an unusual marriage. My grandfather was a Polish soldier and my grandmother was a German lady, they married and migrated to Australia after WWII. My grandmother had to leave her two children behind on the other side of the world. This has had a flow-on effect in my family, and how my parents raised me.
There is so much suffering in the world, and why there is so much suffering is a question that every faith group around the world has tried to answer. For the Buddhists and Hindus, they believe that what goes around comes around, that what we do in life comes back around to affect us, whether it is good or bad. According to their beliefs, whatever wrong-doings we do, we will suffer the consequences either in this life or in the next life through reincarnation. Unless you live an absolutely perfect life from start to finish, they believe you are reincarnated again and again. The problem with this system is that there is no hope, there is no escape from the sufferings and trials of this world.
But we, as believers and followers of the true Lord, Jesus Christ, we have the advantage of knowing different. We know that Christ suffered for us, and we have hope that because of his suffering, we will one day experience a reality where there is no more suffering.
Now I can’t give you an answer as to why we go through trials, pain and suffering in life. I don’t think that we even have the capacity to fully understand why. But when we look at the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, we can see the theme of the suffering of Israel.
The prophet Jeremiah knew what it meant to go through suffering. His nation had been taken over by the Babylonians, who sent the people into exile, and tried to eliminate their national identity and culture. The Babylonians even tried to force all under the Babylonian empire to worship idols and commit great sin against our God.
Many times we can feel like we are exiled. We can feel exiled from our family. We can feel exiled from our society. Perhaps it is because of your faith, or maybe some other reason. During the time of Israel’s exile, the Lord gave a word to Jeremiah, who wrote it in a letter of encouragement to the exiles of Babylon. In perhaps one of the most well-known passages from the prophetic books, he wrote:
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ – Jeremiah 29:11.