Why Suffering?

Date Preached: May 12, 2019
From the Series: Got Questions?
Topics: suffering
Scripture: Romans 8:18-39
Notes: Download PDF
Speaker: Gary Combs

Summary

For most who pose the question of why God allows suffering, it is neither a philosophical, nor a theological one. For most, it is a personal question. What’s your story today? How are you dealing with the problem of suffering and evil in our world?

God inspired the apostle Paul to consider the problem of suffering and to write to encourage the believers in Rome. He revealed that there’s definitely more to the story! In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explained why there is suffering in God’s creation, encouraging them to compare it against the weight of God’s glory that awaits those who believe. We can understand why there is suffering in God’s creation, knowing that a greater glory awaits those of us who believe.

Transcript

Below is an automated transcript of this message

Thanks for listening to the podcast from Gary Combs and the preaching team at Wilson Community Church in Wilson, North Carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more. And now here’s the sermon.

Good morning. Let’s continue our series called, “Got Questions?” We are in part four this morning, and we’re addressing some of the questions that people often ask about God and the Bible in these weeks. In this particular week, we’re asking this question concerning why there is suffering. And as I normally hear this question, it’s usually stated something like this, “If God is so powerful and good, why is there pain and suffering in the world?”

Have you heard this question, or have you wrestled with this question? I don’t see how you could be alive very long without wrestling with this question. If God is so powerful and good, why is there pain and suffering in the world? This is the most asked question that I encounter as a pastor. We have a lot of questions that people ask, but this is the most often asked. They are doubting either the existence of God or the goodness of God. That seems to be where most people struggle. In philosophy, this question is called the problem of evil. In theology, it’s called Theodicy.

One of the earliest and most famous statements about the problem of evil was made by the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, around 300BC. He stated it something like this, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” And so the problem of evil caused this Greek philosopher, Epicurus, to doubt the existence of God. And this problem has led many people to atheism.

C. S. Lewis was among them at one time, and it was his main argument against God’s existence. And here’s how he talks about his transition from atheism to faith, he says. “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of ‘just” and unjust’? …What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? …Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies…. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple.” And so, as we know, if we’ve read those classics like “Mere Christianity,” we know that C. S. Lewis began a transition towards believing in Jesus. Commenting on Lewis’s progression from atheism to faith, author Timothy Keller writes this, He says, “Lewis recognized that modern objections to God are based on a sense of fair play and justice. People, we believe, ought not to suffer, be excluded, die of hunger or oppression. [If] the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection depends on death, destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak—these things are all perfectly natural. On what basis, then, does the atheist judge the natural world to be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust? The nonbeliever in God doesn’t have a good basis for being outraged at injustice, which, as Lewis points out, was the reason for objecting to God in the first place. If you are sure that this natural world is unjust and filled with evil, you are assuming the reality of some supernatural standard by which to make your judgment.” Timothy Killer writes that in a book that I would recommend to you, “The Reason For God.”

You can’t have it both ways. But yet the question of suffering is neither a philosophical nor even a theological question for most people. For most people, it’s personal. It’s a personal question. It’s not about the intellect or some argument for or against. It’s personal. It certainly was personal for Percy and Amanda Manual, as we just watched in the video. It was certainly personal for me and for many of you that were here four years ago. On that day, it was personal for all of us. As Percy just relayed in the video, he asked this question, “Why Lord, why did this happen? What did we do wrong?” As he thought it through and prayed, he said he never really heard what would be , as he called it, a straightforward answer. He had more of a feeling that there’s something more to the story, and I think Percy got it right. There is more to the story. That’s what C.S. Lewis determined. Atheism is too simple. It doesn’t account for all the facts. There’s more to the story. This world is more complex than the philosopher and even the theologian can see. There’s something personal going on. There’s more to the story.

What’s your story today? How are you dealing with this problem of suffering and evil in our world? Does it cause you to turn toward God in faith? Or does it cause you to turn away from God in doubt? That’s your decision, isn’t it? Because I’ve seen it go both ways. I’ve seen it go just as I heard Percy talk about that. Suffering caused him to lean more fully into faith. But I’ve seen others say it’s driven them from God and they blame God. How do you process that?

There have been ten school shootings in the U. S. this year since January; two in the last couple of weeks. Tragic. Why is there suffering and death plaguing our young people today? What is this? According to psychologists, anxiety, depression, even suicidal thinking has doubled among our young people in the past decade. What’s that? Why are young people, the millennials as we call them, so depressed that they’re dealing with suicidal thinking and its greater than any generation that we have encountered? Why would God allow two hundred fifty Christian worshippers to be massacred on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka by Muslim terrorists? What about all those people that were killed or left homeless by the natural disasters and tsunamis and earthquakes and hurricanes and famine? What? What? Where’s God when the doctor says cancer; why does a good and all powerful God allow such suffering? That’s the question.

May I say to you, God’s not afraid of our questions because we can go to the Scripture and we can find answers. We can find answers that really are the best answers to explain the reality that we see in this world today. God inspired the apostle Paul to consider the problem of suffering, and he was encouraged, I think, to write the letter to to the church at Rome and help them understand suffering so that they would see that there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explained that there is suffering in God’s creation, and he encouraged them to compare it against the weight of God’s glory that awaits those of us who believe. I believe this morning we can see why there is suffering in the world and why it, instead of driving us from God, should drive us toward God and should also help us point our lives more fully to that great glory that awaits us.

As we look at the text, I think we will see three reasons for why there is suffering in God’s creation. Let me read Romans, chapter eight. And by the way, if you stick around with us until the fall, we’re going to be back in the book of Romans, going verse by verse. My purpose today is not to do the deeper exegeses of this passage and Romans, but to ask the question about suffering of the text. Does that make sense? That’s what we’re doing. We’re asking why is there suffering and then we’re asking God’s word to answer it.

If you want to hear a more full verse by verse of Romans, come back in the fall because that’s when we’re planning on it studying it. That is, if the Lord delays His coming, right? We will be back in Romans in the Fall.

Romans chapter 8, verse 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.” This is his thesis statement and now he backs it up, “ 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is God’s Word.

Why is there suffering in God’s good creation? Is it his response to our sin? This is the first reason because of his response to our sin. A holy God responds to sin. Notice in verse eighteen, I have mentioned that it’s kind of like a thesis statement in an essay that he is writing. Paul is getting ready to talk to you about how on this hand in the present day you have suffering. But there’s a future day coming when you have glory, and if you weigh them, glory will outweigh suffering. That’s what he’s saying in his thesis statement. And then he begins to dig down into it. He begins to work it out, but he’s talking about suffering. In verse nineteen, he begins to talk about creation. Now we’re part of creation, but he’s talking about creation separate from us in this portion of the scripture He’s going to get to us, but at this point, he’s talking about everything in creation, everything in the universe but us.

The reason he does it like that is because the biblical worldview is that humanity is the crown of creation. We are not just one of the animals, but we’re the image of God. And so he begins with creation, and he begins to use these words that describe the suffering of the universe, the suffering of creation. Scientists call it entropy. Everything runs down, everything goes towards zero towards death. There’s something that started it all but we’ve discovered this.

Here’s Paul’s words in verse nineteen, “… longing, he says creation is longing.” This is called personification. If you remember your eighth grade English, right? Creation is personified here, he says. Creation longs for something it doesn’t have. It’s longing. That’s painful when you long for something that you don’t have, that’s emotional pain. Futility is found in verse twenty. The word could be translated vanity or devoid of meaning. Emptiness.

Who caused the universe and creation to feel futility? Verse twenty, “For the creation was subjected to futility. Not willingly, but because of him, who subjected it.” Who’s him? God More on that in just a little bit. But futility hurts. It lends itself towards the meaningless feeling of life, as if we’re just in some sort of circle, like the snake eating its own tail. There’s no meaning, and so the the Bible has a book, Ecclesiastes, that mentions vanity of vanities, questions and life under the sun. If all we have is life under the sun , it really doesn’t make sense. That’s all Solomon studied was life under the sun. But there’s life beyond this, but there’s a futility.

Verse twenty one says that creation was in bondage to corruption. In other words, everything runs down. It’s enslaved to decaying and death. God did not create by the means of death. However, the evolutionist claims that, through billions and billions of deaths, we have become who we are that lots and lots of life had to die. The Bible doesn’t describe it that way. The Bible speaks of a time before the present time. This is the age following a previous age of creation in a place called the Garden of Eden, where there was no evil and there was no suffering and there was no hurting. God made a good world, but sin entered it. We live in an age followed by a previous age, and this age has a beginning and an end. And there’s another age coming, which is a glorious age. Paul would have us compare the weightiness of each.

In verse twenty two, we see that creation personified is groaning, as if in the pains of childbirth. I think Paul gets it right. Doctors call it labor, but he calls it pain. I think most mothers would agree with Paul, for we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Now, the thing about the pains of childbirth is they hurt, but they’re towards a goal. They have a purpose that helps. I think my wife and my mother told me that. Although, my mother used to say when I would get in trouble with her and she wanted to put some guilt on me, she’d say, “Gary Wayne Combs, I went through the valley of the shadow of death, to have you,and you talk to me that way?” She’s quoting Psalm twenty three, but she is thinking about Romans eight. I think maybe mothers know this; what Paul is talking about better than any of us. This pain, this labor, but yet with hope. And it’s not like creation that is suffering, but we ourselves, as in verse twenty three. Now we’re there, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit groaning inwardly. So he stopped about believers who already have the first fruits, which means we’ve been given the deposit of the spirit, which lets us know we are eternal creatures now. And so we have a longing for eternity and for things to last. But things don’t last .

If you go to Grandma’s house now, Grandma’s not there anymore because God’s called her home and it’s just the house . It’s not a home. You go to Mom’s house and somebody else lives in it now and it bothers you. There’s something wrong. Why do you think that? Because there’s something wrong. It’s not because, as the atheist says, there is no God and therefore you shouldn’t feel that something’s wrong, because death has always been what the world is about. You know, the reason you feel that there’s something wrong is because there’s something wrong. And when you have the first fruits of the spirit in your life, he’s saying to you, there’s something wrong, but something good is coming. And so you groan inwardly in your soul longing for it.

I got up this morning and posted photos of my mother. Something’s wrong. She’s been gone eighteen years. It feels like days or minutes. I remember every detail. I remember how her looked and I remember the sound of her voice. Something is wrong with this world, and something inside of us says, “There’s something better.” There’s something more and we groan inwardly in our souls. The world’s filled with suffering.

Aren’t you glad you came to church on Mother’s Day? The pastor is talking about suffering on Mother’s Day. When we were going through this series, I thought maybe mothers would be the ones who would get this even more than anybody, because there’s a suffering in motherhood that goes with bearing children and raising children. There is suffering in parenting. So here we are now all in the creation. But we ourselves who had the first fruits we groan inwardly; we are waiting for our new bodies, so we grown outwardly Oh, my bad knee. I want a new body.

Verse twenty four, “For in this hope…” We’re saying we don’t see it yet. I don’t see my mother yet. I don’t see my new body yet. I don’t see Jesus yet, but I believe it because the first fruits of the spirit is in me. Why else? The longing, he’s the proof of it. And not only am I suffering and we are suffering, this deep soul suffering, but the spirit groans within us because he lives in us and he longs for the day.

And then we get in verse twenty six, “Likewise, the spirit helps us in our weakness…” because sometimes we hurt so bad we don’t even know how to pray. And so he tags in and he prays for us in groanings too deep for words. There’s more to the picture than meets the eye. There’s the spirit interceding for us in verse twenty six with groaning too deep for words and he searches our hearts and he knows the mind of God. So he tries to bring us into alignment with that. In verse thirty five, Paul and his conclusion begins to list all kinds of suffering. He lists, I think, seven, and he talks about versatility of tribulation, which is outward trouble. And then he talks about distress, which is inward emotional trouble. He talks about persecution, which is especially because of race or or religious beliefs, that people persecute us for how we look or what we believe. And then there’s famine, which is extreme scarcity of food, and is usually caused by drought or some natural disaster. It is sometimes caused by the sinfulness of man and the brokenness of our societies. There is nakedness, the lack of clothing, homeless people and people without clothes because they go hand in hand. Danger, which means we have people who live in an unsafe neighborhood, an unsafe environment. So if children growing up that live in constant danger, as in verse thirty five, the final word is sword, which means there is war, constant war because of the sinfulness of man. There will always be war until Jesus comes again and there is crime; there will always be crime, where a brother kills a brother. Sword, violence, guns, knives…. fill in the blank…. bombs. Why is there suffering in the world?

Is it because of God’s response to our sin? God’s creation began very good. Genesis 1:27 said that God created us in his image. Genesis 1:31 said that God said it was very good. Genesis 2:16, he commands Adam, in this good creation, you can eat anything in the garden. It’s all yours. Just don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For that day, you will die; death, destruction,suffering and pain will enter in if you eat it. And then we see that the serpent deceived the woman and the woman convinced the man.

It says in Genesis chapter 3, “ Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you God asked And the man said, The woman you gave me…” The man’s been blaming it on her ever since, right? Give me the truth. She took from the fruit of the tree and I ate it. That woman you gave me caused me to sin. Then the Lord asked the woman, “And what is this you’ve done?” The woman said, “the serpent deceived me,” and so she blamed it on the snake. And so the curse of of suffering and death is the result of sin. And so we see, in Genesis the latter part of three, he says to the woman, “I was sharpen the pain of your pregnancy and in pain you will give birth. Your desire will be to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” But it’s going to hurt the man too. God said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” You’re going to do what I made you to do, but it’s going to hurt. This is what I said is the best explanation for suffering. The Bible says for the wages of sin is death. Do you get this? This doesn’t help us yet, but at least it begins to make sense. Why’s there suffering in the world? Sin equals suffering, wider, suffering, world sin. Not necessarily your specifics in but sin has entered the world and infected it with suffering.

Okay, Number two spent a lot of time there. Gotta move. (2) Because of His hope for our future. Listen to Paul. He’s gotta good point here. Here it comes. It’s a great point. It will help us understand suffering. God allows suffering. Here’s another way of putting it; you’ve probably prayed like this for some teenager or for somebody in your family. Maybe they need to experience bottom in order to look up. Maybe they need to hit bottom. Maybe they need to hit rock bottom before they…. pray, pray, pray like that for somebody Maybe they need to feel the consequences before they will wake up. There’s a lot of truth to that because look at verse twenty; circle hope in verse twenty, “20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope. So God, he subjected the universe to this meaninglessness, this emptiness, this longing in hope that we would turn to him and that it would get our attention.

Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God. And every little baby that grows up today makes the same decision. So we can’t just blame Adam and Eve.. We all say I want to do it myself. I want it my way, which is the attitude of sin. The attitude of sin is this: I will do it my way. And then everything else comes out of that.

God basically says okay, I have given you free will to do it your way and get what goes with it, but I do this in hope, which for God is not a wish. It’s not like I wish it wouldn’t rain. Not like that. His hope is if something hasn’t happened yet, but he knows it will. It’s a strong hope that by allowing suffering, we will see what rebellion gets us. That we will turn to him and will be better for it because we’ll recognize his way is the best way. His way is the only way. His way is what I want because I’ve tasted the other side. So he’s got hope for us. There’s a glory to be revealed.

In 2nd Corinthians says this, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” C. S. Lewis said, “They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” So we even look back and go ”well, , that hurt, but praise God.” It’s like a badge of courage.

I don’t know if men do this at your house, I don’t know if women do it. I’ve never been around women who do this, but when I was growing up, we’d be sitting on my grandfather’s front porch and one of us would pull up our pants leg and say, “check this scar out. Dude, how’d you get that one? Yeah, I got that one, man. And then your grandfather pulls, his sleeve up and he got his arm chopped off. You know, somebody always drops the mike and you go, “Okay, goodbye, and pulls his pants legs back down because, you know, somebody has a worse one. I don’t know if women compare scars. Guys do that . I wonder if we will do that in heaven, and then Paul will walk up and we will say, “ Oh, you know, he’s got that list: he been snake bit, shipwrecked, beat with lashes, you know, chained, stoned and left for dead. He’s got that list, and I’m telling you, you know, people walk off. And then Jesus walks up and no one can compare.No one has ever understood how much he suffered. But it’s not an idle wish. And so he hopes. Verse twenty one says he hopes that through this it will set creation free from its bondage to corruption, which is death. He hopes that this longing he has put in creation for that as it goes to the pain of childbirth one day will be born anew. That there will be a new earth and a new heaven and a new body and a new reality, redemption of body and spirit. That is just a down payment now. But one day it will be full.

In verse twenty eight, he will turn all things to good. Nothing good will be lost . Nothing you’ve done by faith will ever be forgotten or lost. Why’s he doing this? Why does God allow good people of suffer? The first thing is no one is good. So the whole presupposition is false because we already covered point one. Sin is in the world. We are sinners. Then the other part is even his son he allows to suffer.

Why does he allow us to suffer? And then we see in verse twenty nine, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” He’s making us like Jesus and we’re under construction. Sometimes you have to do demolition before you begin. As the Lord provides and as God’s people continue to give, we will set a date next door for this old theater room next door that we haven’t used yet and we will say it is demolition day. We will come in with our crowbars and with our hammers and whatever we need. We will put a dumpster out back and we will do demolition. We’re getting ready to have a new worship space, a new space that we can have fellowship. But we need to demo what we have so we can rebuild it.

Suffering hurts. But some of you know this – the deepest spiritual lessons you have learned you learned in the school of suffering. There was no other way.

Look what suffering, when it is given to God, produces in us. Paul writes in Romans 5, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance, produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”

You’ve heard the athlete’s mantra, “No pain, , no gain.” You have to tear down to build up. There’s a purpose behind God’s allowance for suffering. We don’t always see it. But if we trust him, there is sweetness on the other side.

And then finally (3) Because of his desire to show his great love. Sin equals suffering. That’s why suffering is in the world. It’s the best explanation for the reality of the world we live in. There is a real entity called evil. It really exists in the world. Why is it in the world because of sin but God’s using it. That sounds profoundly difficult at first until we begin to unpack it in reading God’s word. We recognize God, I trust you. You won’t let anything touch me unless it first passes through your fingers. And if it touches me, you will give me the grace to go through it because you’re making me like Jesus. God, what are you doing to me? I’m conforming you to the image of Christ whose calling was perfected in suffering for us. I’m making you like Jesus.

1st John 3:2 says, “We know not yet what we shall be, but when we see him, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” That’s how you’re making us like him; he wants to show his great love. Verses thirty one through thirty nine, this is not some god out in the distance somewhere who’s inflicting and allowing suffering. No. He enters into that reality with us and suffers with us and for us because of his great love. He has given us the holy spirit which groans in prayers too deep for words for us. But he has sent his one and only son Jesus. His only begotten son.

Paul writes, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ.” He’s with you. He’s the fourth man in the fire as we sang earlier. Old Nebuchadnezzar looked in that furnace and he said, “I see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego go in there. We saw three men in there. They are walking around in there like there’s nothing wrong with them. But there’s a fourth one in there and there he looks like the son of God. I heard a preacher some years ago say, “God was just kind of looking over his planet, you know, looking over his creation. And then he heard something like this, ‘We will not bow. We we don’t know if God will save us or not. But know this King Nebuchadnezzar, We will not bow down to your God.’ And I believe God leaned in, said, Jesus! Get down there!” I mean, I know that sounds a little like colloquial, but I think that’s Jesus in the fire.

The closest I’ve ever felt To God have been at my deepest moments of loss. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? God did not even spare his own son. He comes and joins us and our suffering knowing that it’s temporary, that there’s coming a day.

Here’s what Tim Keller says, “If we again ask the question: ‘Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on Himself.” In other words, we don’t know everything about this. We still ask why? Why did God take my father from me when I was eight years old. We prayed. Did we pray wrong? This was my biggest question growing up. Did I pray wrong? I never doubted that God was all powerful. I never doubted that God was all good. I doubted that I wasn’t good enough to be heard until I was about fourteen years old. And somebody explained to me that Jesus had made me righteous through the cross and that God had reasons that I don’t know about yet. And so I accepted it and I found peace. And I know someday, someday maybe I’ll understand. But even if I don’t understand, I trust, I asked, Why did you take my mother? You took my father. My mother was only sixty six years old. What is going on and then, like Job, I felt my voice saying, “Even if you slay me yet, will I serve you.” It’s kind of crazy.

He’s the best explanation for reality. He loves us, loves us, loves us. The suffering we feel draws us closer to him. Why? Because he joins me right there in it. Jesus suffered in my place. And so if I must suffer with him in order to know him better. (Tim Keller) “However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from her condition. Got takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.”

Christ died and was raised in verse thirty four. He is interceding for us. Romans 5 says, “ 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So it’s kind of like less philosophical, less theological. For me, it’s personal. Jesus died for me. He suffered for me, and I trust him because he died in my place. And it doesn’t all make sense to me all the time. And I still have unanswered questions. But God’s not afraid of my questions. And when I can’t figure it out, the Holy Spirit prays in my place. How about you, where are you? Are you letting suffering drive you from God or, as he intends, will you let it get your attention? So you look up and trust God. The Bible says, “Greater Love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.”

Seeker, are you suffering today? Will you see that God has a reason for everything he does? He’s a good god. He’s a holy god. He’s a powerful god. Will you let your suffering hopefully move you to call to him? Believer, are you going through suffering today, will you lean into the Lord all the more today and say, “I I want to learn what you want me to know. I want to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in me, growing in me.” This is not lightweight stuff. Friends. When I think about my mother and I think about someday seeing her again and I think about how, as she used to say, “Gary Wayne Combs, I went through the valley of the shadow of death for you.” And I think about how she told me about Jesus when I was still a child on her knee. And I can see her hands and I can hear her voice singing to me, “Jesus loves me.” And then I see her on that day when she graduated to Heaven and I was there when it happened, I think, is it true? Is it possible? God, he’s going to work in reverse Turn all evil into good, all suffering into glory. Is it true? Is it possible for the Holy Spirit to work within me? Yes, it’s true. Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.

Let’s pray, Lord, we wrestle with these things and we don’t know every answer. But, Lord, we would know you offered that freely. Even the suffering we go through your word teaches us that You use it to draw us to you. Lord, I pray for that seeker today. That person who came in the day because it was Mother’s Day. Whatever reason they came, they came to check out our church or they’re going through a season of difficulty. I pray for you, my friend. Right where you are . Would you lean into God today instead of leaning away, pulling away? Look up instead of looking to yourself. Lord, I pray you would be knocking on heart’s doors right now throughout this assembly. And I pray for that person right now. Would you pray with me right where you are, “Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’ve chosen my own way. But today I choose you. I give you my suffering. I give you everything, all my questions. I surrender. I no longer want my way. I want your way. I know you died on the cross for me and that you were raised from the grave. I believe it. Come and live in me and make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of God. I surrender to you as my Lord and savior.” If you’re praying that prayer right now believing the Lord will save you. This is his desire for you. Others are here today and you bring a longing. You’re a believer but you have a longing. Let it sharpen your taste for glory. We thank you for it because it lets us know that this place is not our home. We’re just passing through and we await the weight of glory, when suffering will be no more and you will wipe away every tear and we will be with the Lord forever. We thank you for it. in Jesus’s name, Amen.