Summary: Part 3 in the series Power for Living. This message looks at God’s promise to one day deliver all of creation from suffering and struggle.
The End of Suffering and Struggle
Power for Living, part 3
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
August 12, 2007
I have often preached at Wildwind that what brings people together is weakness, not strength. Tales of strength create competition. Tales of weakness create companionship. I could have person after person come up here and tell you their tales of mighty spiritual victories, and with each story you’d feel what? Happy for them? Maybe. But definitely what? Jealous! Inferior! You’d think, “Well, I’m glad so and so kicked such and such habit, but I must not be very spiritual because I’m still struggling with that habit.” Or you’d think, “What’s so special about that guy?” Or, “Why do I stick with this anyway? Nothing seems to ever come of it.”
The Apostle Paul understood that it’s our weaknesses that grow a church community. Out of this understanding, Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 11:30 (NIV)
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Suffering and struggling are universal human conditions, aren’t they? You may not have a million dollars, but you have had heartaches and losses in your life, just like every millionaire, right? You may not have won an Olympic gold medal, but you have suffered the fear of not reaching a goal, haven’t you? You may not be a politician, but you have struggled to make a difference somewhere, haven’t you? My friends, when we think that no one understands our struggles, we couldn’t be more wrong. Struggles are what people understand best. If you’re down and out, someone somewhere understands, and you might be surprised who.
Before we launch into our text this morning, I want to tell you that if you’re struggling, if sin has a chokehold on you, if you feel like a slave to habits you can’t seem to shake, if you feel hopeless or lonely or broke or scared, if you wonder how anyone ever really does this whole God thing, I understand. WE understand. And my friend, you are in the right place this morning. Because today we are talking about suffering and struggling, but not just in order to wallow in them. Today we’re talking about a time when those things will end – when that universal thing that we all understand will no longer be something we’re familiar with. Will you imagine that with me for a second? The Bible promises that one day all pain and struggling and difficulty and suffering will be eliminated. It will no longer be part of our lives. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly imagine what this will be like, can you? No more flats on the freeway. No more power failures on hot summer nights. No more first kisses with no breath mints in sight. No more cancer. No more war. No more cutting yourself with the potato peeler. No more coming home exhausted from a long vacation to find your basement flooded. No more being told by the person closest to you that you’re defective in some way. No more losing your job or not being able to find one. No more losing everything after a computer crash in the middle of the night, with a huge paper due the next morning. No more Virginia Tech shootings. No more wondering where was God in those moments. No more being hungry, or tired, or sad, or feeling guilty. No more struggling with your self-confidence. No more saying goodbye to your children as they move out of state. No more long distance romance. No more sitting home on a Friday wishing he’d call. No more screw-ups at the bank. No more addictions – to anything. No more desperate craving for attention, for affection, for love, for recognition, for security, for promotion. No more children dying of AIDS. No more saying goodbye to animals we have loved. No more bullies stealing your lunch money. No more boring sermons or pushy church-people or stuffy worship services.
Think of any struggle, any difficulty, any suffering that you or anyone you know has ever encountered, and a day is coming when God is going to say No More. It’s one of the most glorious promises in all of scripture. Let’s look at it now. We’ve been studying the book of Romans, chapter 8. Last week we left off in verse 17, and I want to start there at that verse today and move through verse 27. Instead of reading the whole passage right now, let’s just continue going verse by verse and looking at this.
Romans 8:17 (NIV)
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.