Summary: God doesn’t cause suffering. But in the midst of our doubt surrounding suffering, God uses those experiences to our benefit.
This morning we heard the story of Job who God himself called the most righteous man of his entire generation. In the story God allowed Job to lose all his sons and daughter in a tornado, all of his herds which today would be the equivalent of your life’s savings. Job remained committed to God though it all. A short time later, God allowed Job to suffer from a horrible disease of oozing sores. It was so bad that Job was disfigured and his friends didn’t recognize him. Job remained committed to God, but he started asking a question: Why?
In fact, most of the book is a dialogue between Job and his friends who are quite convinced that he’s done something to deserve the tragedy that’s befallen him. Finally, God interrupts and tells Job’s friends that they’re wrong. Job hadn’t sinned. Interestingly, God never answered the "Why?" question either. For 42 chapters, we hold our breath waiting, but the answer never comes.
I mention this story to let you know that there’s not always going to be an answer to our suffering - at least not in this life. When you stand by people who undergo suffering beware of offering pat answers. When you endure it, don’t expect to know why. You may not be able to figure it out.
The Psalmist spoke of this unknown answer when he penned the 73rd Psalm…
“For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning…Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in mind… Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel…it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare all Your works.” – Psalm 73:14, 21, 23, 28
EVEN THOUGH WE DON’T have the answer, we still put our trust in the Lord.
Conclusion - How do we respond to the doubt of suffering?- Romans 5:3-4
Which leaves us with probably the most difficult question remaining…How do we respond to suffering.
The answer is found in Romans 5:3-4 – “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance [our attitudes]; perseverance, character [deepening out faith]; and character, hope. [living in faith until knowledge comes.]” (NIV)
It’s that doubt to faith to knowledge thing once again…
1. In the midst of doubt, we make the decision whether we have faith in God or not, thus
determining our attitude. Paul calls this perseverance.
2. If we decide to have faith, we respond by taking that faith and going where God is,
thus deepening our faith. Paul calls that character.
3. And as we live out our faith, we await the day, when our faith becomes knowledge. Paul
calls that hope.
Let me leave you with one last quote, this one again from Cliffe Knechtle…
“Although I do not know why God allowed evil, I do know that he wants to destroy it. That is why there is hell.
Although I do not know why God allowed pain, I do know he wants to wipe every tear from our eyes and give us joy for eternity in his presence. That is why there is a heaven.
Although I do not know why God allowed suffering, I do know God is a suffering God who became human in Jesus, suffered and died on the Cross in order to forgive you and me.”