The child who asks why, is given an answer and then asks why straight away again.
That’s what we’re often like with the topic of suffering.
• Where is God When It Hurts?
• Then, The Question that Won’t Go Away: Why?
Because this question just never seems to go away.
So that’s what we’re looking at today. The issue that never seems to go away.
Previous weeks: Jesus’ Baptism and Your Baptism イエスの洗礼とあなたの洗礼
Jesus’ Temptation and Your Temptation イエスの誘惑とあなたの誘惑
Today: Jesus’ Suffering and Your Suffering イエスの苦しみとあなたの苦しみ
Key verse: Rom 5:3,4 We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
1. Suffering produces perseverance. 苦しみは忍耐を生み出す。
You can panic or persevere when under pressure. Which would God want you to do?
Which reflects trust in God?
2 Cor 1:8,9 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
2. Suffering produces reliance on God. 苦しみは神への拠り頼みを生み出す。
Because we can’t deal with it ourselves, suffering teaches us to rely on God.
But there’s relying and then there’s relying.
Worrying/panicking while relying (is there such a thing?) is a demonstration that you do not really trust God. And so Jesus tells us not to worry but to trust and rely on God.
Being at peace while relying on God is a mark of maturity and Christlike character. It shows that you really do trust God.
3. Suffering produces character and strength. 苦しみは練られた品性と強さを生み出す。
Look back on the time or period of your life in which you saw the greatest growth as a Christian. It was almost certainly a time of trial or suffering.
When suffering, do you pray “Rescue me”, or “strengthen me”?
It’s not that one is right and the other wrong. But if we’re only asking that God would rescue us, then perhaps we’re being weak and immature. If we’re only ever asking God to strengthen us, then perhaps we’re denying God the power and opportunity to intervene extraordinarily in our lives.
John Piper: Loving God
“Loving God means that our supreme happiness is in God.”
As Christians, we are so in love with God that there is no sense of sacrifice or suffering in our lives. Because we see beyond the sacrifice and we see beyond the suffering.
So Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Hebrews 12:2
So understanding suffering and the purposes of suffering is a good thing.
But as I think and pray over this topic, something really bothers me about this. Something still is not quite right. Incomplete. Deficient.
It’s this: Jesus didn’t come to explain suffering, He came to deal with it.
Let’s look at Matt 11:2-5 as a quiz:
When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
a)Go back and report to John that I have given a brilliant explanation of suffering and its purposes.
b) Go back and report to John that I am suffering in ways that you would not believe so that others won’t feel so bad when they suffer.
c)Go back and report to John that although many people are suffering now, because of me, they won’t be suffering in heaven.
d)None of the above.
The answer is d) None of the above.
Here’s what Jesus said: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
I cannot find anywhere in the Bible an instance where a sick or a suffering person approached Jesus, asked Him for mercy, and then was given a very good explanation of why they were suffering – and then left in their suffering.
Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed offered explanations of suffering. But they couldn’t do anything about it.
Jesus came to bring God’s kingdom to the earth.
Yes, Jesus came to teach us. イエスは私たちを教えるために来られた。
Jesus came to show us the Father’s love. イエスは父なる神の愛を私たちに示すために来られた。
Jesus came to save us. Amen! イエスは私たちを救うために来られた。
But a vital part of this coming Kingdom was that He came to heal us from both our temporal suffering and our eternal suffering.
Understanding suffering and knowing the fruits it can produce in our lives is important, as scripture testifies. Let’s never lose sight of that. We need a theology of suffering. We need to understand it. 苦しみの神学が必要です。
But we also need a theology of healing and cleansing and deliverance and care.
We have a role in this.
Healing.癒し James 5:14,15 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
Care.思いやり 1 Thessalonians 2:7b,8 Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
Generosity.惜しみなく施す 2 Corinthians 8:1,2 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
Preaching salvation.救いを宣べ伝える Mark 16:15 Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Let’s preach to those who don’t know God.
Let’s be generous and caring to those who are suffering.
Let’s also pray for those who are sick and suffering.