Summary: The message looks at the Lord’s provision in suffering.
Suffering and TLC
T is for Trials
For some reason people actually believe that if you are a believer or even a good person you shouldn’t or won’t experience pain and suffering in this life. From personal experience I can tell you this is not true.
Suffering is one of the universal truths of living. We can all be assured of trials and tribulations in this life. On Monday, a lone gunman killed and wounded students and professors on a college campus. Families and friends were thrown into terrible suffering. Everyone suffers. Regardless of status everyone suffers.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:45,
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Even Paul, one of God’s most faithful servants said,
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I Corinthians 12:7-9
Vance Havner said, "At the Nicene Council, an important church meeting in the 4th century A.D., of the 318 delegates attending, fewer than 12 had not lost an eye or lost a hand or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith."
Oswald Chambers in Christian Discipline said, "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."
The question that many ask is, "Why is there such widespread suffering if God is in control?" If God is truly God then why does he allow this type of thing to happen in our life and in the lives of those around us? Better yet, why does he allow His saints to suffer as they do? Where is God in all of this suffering?
Why do we suffer?
Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world. Since Eve took a bite of the fruit of the tree and Adam joined her we have been living in a world corrupted by sin. At the moment of the bite sin entered this world. Romans 8:22 says,
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
There is another cause to our suffering. We do stupid things. We make choices that lead to natural consequences. If you smoke crack over a period of time you will not look good physically and your mind will decay. Eventually you will die. If you drive over the speed limit and get caught enough times you will go to jail. Or, if you drive under the influence you might kill yourself and possibly someone else. There are consequences to our behavior. If you put your hand on a hot burner you will....you get my meaning. We can avoid these kinds of choices but not the ones who make these choices.
As a believer there is another consequence to just being a Christian. If we live a Christ-like life we will share in His sufferings. Our nation has begun to persecute Christians in ways not seen before in this country. The mention of Jesus Christ sends people into anger and rage. Even today, in other countries people are still imprisoned or put to death for professing Christ as Lord.
Everyone suffers. So where is our Lord in all of this suffering?
L - is for Love
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
We can be assured of the Lords love. He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves us to the extent that He gave His own Son for us for the forgiveness of our sin. In the midst of our trials and troubles the Lord provides His unconditional love. That is why Paul received the response he did even though he had prayed earnestly and diligently.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I Corinthians 12:7-9
He is also the Father of compassion. It can also be translated compassionate Father or merciful Father. I prefer the word mercy to describe the Fathers "compassion. Mercy is what we have received from God the Father in that He gave us His Son.