15. Suffering

In Your Bible Read This

1 Peter 4, 12 to 5.11

Here Is Your Memory Verse

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5, 44-45, KJV

Afterwards Talk About This

Your own sufferings and pray for each other, comfort each other.

Something To Do Before Next Time

Find, comfort and encourage people who are suffering with poverty, ostracism, sicknesses like AIDS, or are in prison. Befriend at least one person each

Written Diploma Work

Explain in greater detail the three reasons for the existence of suffering and see if you can identify any more.

Meditate On These Verses

Luke 6, 20-23

Spend a Minute to Change the World

Pray For Libya – 5,500,000 Arabs and Berbers. 97% Muslim, 3% foreign Christians, no open evangelism possible

Be sure to teach this lesson to others.
Always pray and prepare well adding your own verses and stories to bring it to life.

Suffering touches all of us and for some it may last for years through illness or accident, or through emotions tortured by despair and black depression. Deaths, unemployment and betrayals are truly painful when they happen in marriage, family or church. Poverty brings suffering through, lack of food, clean water and medicine. Political or religious persecution is also intensely painful when it brings abuse, injustice, inequality and ostracism.

God, Where Are You?

Suffering is real, for God to be God he has to be all powerful and he reveals himself as a God of love. Men have wrestled with this dilemma since time began.

Author Steven Chalke Wrote This,

"Perhaps God wants to do something, but can't. Perhaps ending the world's suffering is just too big a job. But in this case, God isn't all powerful. Perhaps God is all powerful, but just doesn't care enough to end people's suffering. In this case, he isn't a loving God. Perhaps God does care and is all-powerful, but with his long-term view he doesn't see suffering and evil as real or as threatening as we do. Maybe they are all part of a huge learning process. In this case suffering and evil are dismissed as an illusion."

Oh dear, Is There Any Answer?

Some say that suffering is not really all that bad, (until it happens to them) or is part of a bigger picture to help us learn, or is the result of people's own sin, or it's the devil's fault in a spiritual war. Taken together these answers and quite a few more that pastors and people offer, bring a partial explanation but the truth is we will never understand why suffering remains as it does until Jesus explains it all in heaven.

We Do Know Five Reasons

A Fallen World

First, we live in a fallen world, deeply affected by sin from galactic levels down to global, microscopic and atomic levels which explains the climatic calamities, the natural disasters and internal catastrophes in our bodies. One day this world will be made new with no more tears, pain or death, but not yet.

Man's Free Will

Secondly, man's free will, his God-given ability to choose right or wrong causes considerable suffering, and God has limited himself to respect man's choices. People do bad things because they want to.

A Malicious Devil

There is a malicious devil and all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Luther King said, "At the end of the 20th century, most of us will not have to repent of the great evils we have done, but simply of the great apathy that stopped us from doing anything."

God's Kingdom Has Not Yet Fully Come

On D-Day on June 6, 1944 the end of WWII effectively began but hostilities did not end until the allies reached Berlin and declared VE Day on May 8, 1945. Between the beginning of the end and the actual end many thousands of people lost their lives, limbs and homes. On the Cross the end came for Satan, sickness, disease, injustice, poverty, pain and death but until the victory that Jesus won is finally applied once and for all, these afflictions remain in part or whole. The end is certain, the Kingdom of God is advancing on all fronts but there is a way to go yet.  For this reason Jesus said for us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Every Amen moves the battle forward.

And fifthly, there is that little problem of the will of God and all the silence and mystery contained within it.

Jesus Suffered And Was Persecuted

His own people did not receive him, they abused him, plotted against him, tortured him and finally killed him in the most painful way, after an unjust trial with invalid charges, false witnesses, no jury, no defence and no mercy. See Psalm 69.20; Isaiah 50.6; 53.5; Zec. 13.6; Mark 15.34; Luke 22.44; Heb 2.10; 5.8; 13.12; 1 Pet. 1.11; 2.21; 3.18.

Paul Suffered And Was Persecuted

As were the disciples of Jesus and many men of God in ancient times.

Acts 9.29; 13.50; 14.5;19; 16.22; 18.12; 21.36; 22.22; 23.10; 1 Cor. 4.12; 2 Cor 4.9; 11.24; 2 Tim 2.9; 3.11.

Unfortunately, We Can Expect No Different.
Especially in the world of the persecuted church.

Jesus said, "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 15.20; 16.33. Paul said, "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Tim 3.12. In all ages believers have suffered and died for following Christ, in Rwanda and Iran in 1997 and across China, North Korea, Pakistan, India, the Gulf States, Eritrea and many other African nations even today. Google Open Doors Watch List to see the 50 worst places to live if you follow Jesus. There are trials that believers may be called upon to endure for Christ's sake even today, for example:

Suffering, Acts 9.16.

Persecution And Hatred, Mat 5.11, 10.22.

Loss Of Life, Mat 10.39;

Loss Of Possessions, Mat 19.29.

Loss Of Reputation 1 Cor 4.10, 2 Cor 4.5.

Death, 2 Cor 4.11, 12.10, Phil 1.29.

Do We Submit To God Or To Man?

The answer from the suffering church is that first and foremost we obey the word of God. If necessary we also submit to the punishment given by man for doing so. Acts 5.29, 4.19.

How To Overcome In Suffering

Give thanks in all circumstances

  • Praise the Lord in all circumstances. 1 Peter 4.12-19
  • Pray always, appeal to heaven for justice to the highest court of all.
  • Forgive, they know not what they do.
  • Engage in spiritual warfare, because our battle is not against flesh and blood. Eph. 6, 12.

Perhaps God may send an earthquake as he did in Philippi to release Paul and Silas from prison, or an angel as he did to release Peter from prison, or he may choose to walk in the flames with you. Acts 16, 25-30; 12, 1-12; Daniel 3.24-25.

Practical Advice From The Bible

We are to love our enemies.

Bless those who curse you.

Do good to those who hate you.

Pray for those who persecute you.

Do not repay evil for evil.

Minister to the suffering.

Matthew 5.43-48; Ex 23.4-5, Job 31.29, Prov 24.17, 25.21, 22, 20.22 24.29; Mat 5.39-44; Rom 12.14-21; Luke 6.27,35, 23.34; 1 Thes 5.15. Acts 7.60. Lev. 19.18; 1 Peter 3.9, 1 Peter 5.9-11.

To Close Pray for the World's Most Unreached Peoples by Name

Taken from the Joshua Project Unreached Peoples List these people have no church and as yet no cell, church or mission has committed themselves to prayer, adoption or church planting among this people.

Iran

People Name Language Population
Gilaki Gilaki 2,400,000
Gurani (Bajalani) Bajelan 20,000
Gurani (Bajalani) Hawrami 18,000
Harzani Harzani 24,000
Hazara (Khawari) Hazaragi 604,000

 

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