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Summary: Suffering can teach us that we may have to realign our priorities, values and sense of what is essential vs. non-essentials

Suffering - To experience adverse effects of something unpleasant. To feel pain, grief or discomfort.

Illustration:Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They’re the only ones who can take it."

Unknown.

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller quoted in: Barbara Rowes, The book of Quotes, Dutton.

Illustration:THERE WERE MANY PEPERS...THE ONLY ONE CLEANSED WAS NAAMAN." ( LUKE 4:27TM)

EXCEPTIONAL AFFICTION

It’s easy to believe God for something you’ve already seen Him do. But Naaman’s circumstances were unique; not only did he have leprosy, nobody he knew had ever been healed of it. He’d no point of reference to look back on.

Are you being tested today because of a "unique" situation in your life? Your marriage? Your job? You’re arfraid to even talk about it because you don’t know anybody who’s ever beaten your particular problem? If so, stop focusing on the circumstances and start focusing on God! He doesn’t need anything to begin with in order to solve your problem. Remember, in Genesis He hung the earth on nothing-and it’s still turning every day!

Listen: "Naaman...was a great man" ( 2Ki 5:1 NIV). But God was about to make him an exceptional one! Whenever He does that, He permits us to get into predicaments without human solutions. When he wants us to have extraordinary influence, he often permits extraordinary affliction. It’s how He moves us from being impressive to being truly exceptional.

But when He does, be careful. Why? Because one of the first questions people will ask you will be, "How did you do it?" They’ll start admiring your status and your armor, when all the time it was your exceptional affliction that allowed God to make you into the person you’ve become. Before you can be exceptional, you must work to develop a faith that believes God for the impossible and trusts what He says, regardless of the pain or the odds.

Reasons Why God Allows Suffering -

1. The testing of our faith produces mature-well rounded godly character qualities. (James 1 :2,3)

2. Suffering is a privilege of identifying with Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1 :29)

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!"

Martin Luther.

3. Suffering is proof that we are true children of God. (Heb. 12:8)

4. Suffering helps identify and eradicate impurities in the life of a believer. (Heb. 12:9,10)

5. Suffering helps us become more fruitful (Qualitatively and quantitatively) and wise. (Heb. 12: 11)

6. It is the proven path to Godliness. (2 Tim. 3: 12)It was the wise choice made by Moses to endure the affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin in the courts of Pharaoh. (Heb. 11 :25)

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.

7. Suffering can come through our efforts to discipline ourselves for the purpose of Godliness. (I Tim. 4:7,8)

8. Suffering helps us to intimately know more of the Lord’s attributes through a closer identification with His sufferings. (Phil. 3: 10)

9. Godly chastisement is profitable to make us better not bitter. (Heb. 12:10) We are commanded to endure suffering and deny ourselves as Jesus did. (Lk. 9:23,24)

10. Suffering has a way of sharpening us to make us more effective in our ministries. (Eccl. 10: 10)

11. Suffering allows us to teach others through our example how God can work all things together for good. (Rom. 8:28,29)

12. Godly sufferings produce godly blessings. (I Pet. 4: 13,14)

13. Some suffering comes as a result of our sins, mistakes or wrong assumptions. (I Pet. 2: 19-21)

14. We are able to learn to respond to suffering as Christ did - without vengeance or retaliations (I Pet. 2:23,24)

15. Our sufferings produce for us an everlasting weight of glory that surpasses all comparisons and calculation, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease. (2 Cor. 4: 17)

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