So, how many of you like pain? I don’t see any hands raised. It is because pain is not fun. We avoid the crises in our lives like a terminal illness because they produce pain. It could be physical pain. I could be emotional pain. It does not matter, but pain in any form is not enjoyable. The question the follower of Jesus needs to ask is, “What role does God play in my life crises?
One of the challenges with living in our great country is that we have a warped understanding of crises. I am sure that most of us at the deepest levels believe that anything that causes pain should be avoided at any cost. The challenge is that the Bible presents a different view of life crisis for the follower of Jesus. It is that crisis, pain and suffering serve a greater purpose, even when that pain is self-inflicted. This past Sunday we looked at God’s sovereign working in our life crises in a message titled “God’s Got My Back – Crisis.”
I was reminded through several Biblical passages that suffering, or crisis, is part of living and that God works through them for the benefit of us and others. Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy, ““Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”(2 Timothy 3:12) Now I understand the difference between persecution and suffering, but the point I want to make here is that difficulties are part of being a Jesus follower. James reminds us that these tough times serves a purpose, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) He reminds us that life’s challenges provide an opportunity for us to put Biblical truth into practice. And the Lord will reward us for it!
Now let me state that I am not saying you should do things that bring unnecessary suffering in your life, it will happen. I am not saying that crisis is enjoyable or fun. I am also not saying that we should stay in the place of suffering any longer than they Lord keeps us there. I am not inferring that we should not seek out ways to ease suffering. What I am saying is that we need to embrace those difficult times in our lives and let the Lord work in us and through us.
Here are eight insights into difficulties that I shared in my message this past week. First, God has your back. We need to be reminded of this when facing tough times. Second, God is able to redeem every aspect of my life, even when I am at fault. Third, others have and are facing the same struggle, my situation is not that unique. Fourth, God knows how much I can handle. Fifth, God’s escape plan from suffering is to apply Biblical truth in our situation. Sixth, my struggles serve a purpose; they help me mature. Seventh, my difficulties should never become an excuse to not serving Jesus and others. Eighth, God plans to use my experience to help others. And as a bonus, ninth, My suffering will be worth it all!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson