A Sermon by Rev. James Harrison Nixon
Why does God let so many bad things happen to good people? Why can God let you suffer and you still love him? These are questions that I get a lot and I am sure many pastors and other Christians get as well. I will say starting off that suffering is the single most important act above even baptism that a Christian can go through that shows an outward expression of faith. During this sermon I may actually call some of you out unintentionally of course but I will. Many of us tend to think that suffering is a negative thing in every aspect of life. While both Christian and Gentile will go through suffering it is how we handle it and deal with it is how we differ. A gentile will become weak and give up, many will sink down into depression. They will start to blame people including God for their problem, yes even atheist in times of struggles blame God. About 60-70% of them according to the American Psychological Association will become addicted to some type of substance either alcohol, pain killers or street drugs. This can also happen to those that are Christian by name only, as they are also just lukewarm or Gentiles in disguise. These people are actually being at even bigger risk as Satan wants to prove a bigger point because he is still bitter over Job.
Job is not just a book in the Bible it is the oldest book of the Bible. It is a poem tale Job who was faithful to God. Now this was before flood of Noah and well before Abraham as well. Job was a man of great wealth in the land of Uz and Satan wanted to challenge his faith in God. God allowed this and told Satan he could do whatever as long as he did not kill him. Job lost everything during this period, and though he spoke to God and even cursed his own birth, he never gave up his faith in God and in the end of his suffering God blessed him.
Job 42:12 12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. (ESV)
We can focus more on other Old Testament forefathers who suffered either physical or mental hardships at one time or another after all 70 years Daniel spent in Babylon and had to live under their rules as just one example of mental hardship. We move into relative modern history of our Church though see a darker history though. The Start of Christian torture and that is with Christ Jesus. Jesus suffered both mental and physical suffering for us and for our sins at the hands of the temple elders and the Romans. We all remember this suffering yet do we remember him being run off from Nazareth? Yes, he suffered rejection for most of his three years of ministry, which is mental suffering and rejection. When we say Jesus speaks to all we mean he does speak to the broken hearted. He was rejected by his hometown before even the elders in the temple called him a heretic. They wanted to throw him over a cliff (Luke 4:29) this is the abuse Jesus dealt with while ministering to others. He endured it, not just because he is the Son of Man but because he was setting an example of how we should suffer and endure.
Acts 9:16 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (ESV)
Suffering for Christ is something that every real Christian will do at some point in their walk in faith. Sometimes their suffering will be short other times it will be long. We see throughout the book of Acts the suffering of the Apostles. From Paul being beat and Steven stoned this was the life of a Christian in the early days. Today outside of the borders of the United States it is still like this, especially in Asia Major where they are dragging our brethren into the town square and beaten them till death or they convert from Christianity. We are told that we will be rewarded if we stay in perseverance and do not let our suffering overtake us. See this world is temporary and our bodies are nothing more than a shell of our souls, the vessel to do God’s work here on earth before we are called home.
1 Peter 4:12-13 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (ESV)
We cannot forget again the incredible suffering that Jesus endured on the cross. During his torture his fleshed was ripped off of his bones literally to the bones his flesh got torn. Blood was pouring down his flesh, his body grew weak and Pilot wanted to let him go yet the Jewish crowed called for him to be crucified. They made him carry his cross from the prison to the hill to be crucified. At this hill he endured tin primitive nails being driven into his wrist and through his ankles. As he hung there his back already torn was being ripped more from the rough wood of the cross, yet through that suffering he offered only forgiveness for those still mocking him and opening a gate way to those that were yet to know him.
Luke 23:34 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (ESV)
Wow, Jesus in the face of death could only ask for forgiveness and according to Foxx’s Book of Martyr’s Peter and Paul did the same along with Polycarp and others as they faced death’s call in the name of Christ. Paul actually had an interesting conversation with Christ while he was suffering with an affliction. During the third time Paul got an answer though it was not an answer he was expecting he did accept it:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)
For I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10) these words written by Paul about finding his strength while he is suffering. While he is in extreme amount of pain he never denied or thought God left him he grew closer to God during this time. That is the key and the point that we have to remember. During that time that we are going through the pain and suffering we have to grow closer towards God and embrace the strengths that we are being given during those times of weakness.
Romans 8:17-18 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (ESV)
We know that many more suffering will come, many more personal and then one day together through the Tribulations before the return of Christ Jesus. We know this we also are told that we should suffer together and be one together because one is one body (1 Cor 12:26) we should suffer together and be joyous together. Jesus did tell us this to give us hope in John to remind us no matter how much we are suffering that he is here for us:
John 16:33 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV)
Christ has overcome the world, we just have to live in the world my brothers and sisters. We together just have to remember to do as Jesus ask and spread the Gospel to all parts of the world.