It’s never easy to talk about suffering and trials. It’s much easier to speak about God’s promises, God’s grace, and the empowerment to overcome sin. But Scripture is full of suffering examples: Joseph, people of Israel, and most importantly, Jesus. So, as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12, we should, “not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you.” It is not strange that we have trials…what is strange, is that we have so little of them.
So, Let’s Chat About Sunday’s Sermon
Something I Regret
In the 1st service, at the very beginning, I used an example that I regret and it was way too graphic for the moment. If you were there, you more than likely remember it, and I’m sorry for that. If you weren’t there or you don’t remember it, then be glad and I won’t repeat it here. There are times when preaching that I say things I regret from the pulpit and that was one of them.
Different Thoughts About Trials
I made it explicitly clear that the Bible tells us that every trial we have, God has determined it necessary for us. I think we can prove that from Romans 8:28 and other places of Scripture. But the ways that God or the methods that God uses to bring necessary trials are different for each person. So, let me take time to discuss that here:
- We know from Scripture that Satan is a great deceiver and he’s also at conflict with God and God’s people. And there are times when our enemy is fighting against us and he will uses very trials and tests to get us off track spiritually. However, much like in the story of Job, Satan is never outside of the boundaries that God has for him. And we can say, what Satan means for evil, God intends for good. Further, we can say, a great victory in the believer’s life is when we see the power of faith, seeing God’s hand in all things, and ripping the “teeth” out of the enemy’s attack.
- We also know from Scripture that our sin could be a cause of our trials. Hebrews 12 is clear that God “disciplines those He loves”. And God will utilize our circumstances to discipline us. So, when you’re going through a tough time, I think a good thing to do is to take a few moments and ask the Lord if the trial is because of your sin. Then, if the Lord doesn’t reveal something to you, move on and rest in God’s providential care for your soul. But if the Lord does reveal something to you, take the time to repent and turn to Him.
- In my mind, the more I can see God’s hand in everything, the more at peace I am in Christ. I’m not a big fan of finding “the devil behind every bush” and I don’t spend a lot of my time assuming that all trials are because I sinned. But I do spend a lot of time, guarding my heart from anxiety and fear by reminding myself, regularly that the trials I’m going through, are deemed necessary by the good and perfect God of Heaven.
What is suffering?
I made a joke on Sunday that suffering wasn’t “waiting for 4 minutes in the Starbucks line for coffee” because, as Americans, we think suffering is something that’s a mere inconvenience. Far too often I’ve watched Christians, especially leaders get angry with restaurant servers, be impatient with a line they’re in, or be downright mean to others who did something they didn’t like. Then turn around and think it’s ok or that they’re suffering.
In the Bible, suffering is mainly when we we’ve been mistreated for our faith in Jesus. See the Apostle Paul on this one: beaten, imprisoned, and stoned. Those are moments of real suffering…not a cold latte. Suffering comes when we stand for our faith or share the gospel and people don’t respond favorably, to say the least. However, I would also add that Scripture is clear in 1 Peter 2 that sometimes our own sin can bring about suffering. For instance, we could be provoking or being a jerk when sharing the gospel and someone slaps us…I would say that’s not suffering, that’s stupidity. Our actions have caused others to respond to us negatively, not our sharing of the gospel of Jesus.
Further, there are moments that the Bible calls trials. These trials could be anything and yes, we could say that’s having to wait too long in a line, but that would reveal how weak we really are, if we think that’s a trial. Trials in life are: a hard medical diagnosis; a financial distress that is not of your own doing; a death of a loved one; etc. The hard stuff of life that comes out of nowhere.
How to Not Be Surprised
Now, the reasons why we don’t have to be surprised by trials are:
- Jesus said that the world hated Him and they’ll hate us.-John 15:18
- We live in a fallen world and sin happens and it hurts. Trials will come upon everyone and just because we belong to God, doesn’t make us immune from life’s challenges.-Matthew 5:45
- We go through trials to reveal something unique about the gospel and it’s a way for God to show how He transforms people.-Philippians 2:14-15
Coming up next
This coming Sunday, we will take a look back at our series, “Children of God” and consider how we should respond to it. On February 21st, we will be back in 1 Corinthians for a while.
From the Cheap Seats:
- 4-1…at Liverpool…Man City is playing the beautiful game, beautifully. This goal by Phil Foden was amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J_uIOP_H6w. He was the youngest player in history to have an assist and a goal at Anfield. Crazy. Now, Tottenham next. The EPL is so tight this year, if City doesn’t continue to play in great form, things could collapse quickly.
- I’m not sure I saw the domination of the Super Bowl coming. The Tampa defense was amazing and Todd Bowles put together a remarkable plan. And why is it, when a defensive player gets some payback and flashes the hand signal as an offensive player, he gets called for taunting?? And I don’t think there’s anything I could add to what’s been said about Tom Brady. He’s the most down-to-earth GOAT that there’s ever been. The day after the Super Bowl, he was asked what it was like to sleep in his own bed after winning since they played the Super Bowl in Tampa, his hometown. His reply: “well, I haven’t been able to because about 5 of my nephews slept in my bed…I was in my daughter’s bed for about 2 hours.” What 7-time champion says that?? He does.
- OSAA is making big decisions today (Monday) and still no word on football or basketball. 45 of 50 states have already completed their football seasons and most are almost done with basketball. And Oregon hasn’t even started school sports yet. Not cool and not good for kids, in my opinion. It’s past time to let them play.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.