I’m preaching in a few weeks on the sick. The Series is called, “Mercy for our Community”, taken from Matthew 25 and I am preaching on Mercy to the sick.
Years ago I preached in the Defeater Belief regarding Suffering. Since then I have been very sick with cancer. I wonder how this sermon will sound in light of more life experience.
My intro worked; the point of it was how seriously God takes our suffering. So seriously, that he would enter it and suffer Himself. Then, I did a good job of framing the question and how good of a question it is – that when we are suffering we doubt God’s goodness or his in-control-ness.
It would be easier to blog about this sermon if it was bad. Its pretty good. 🙂 Its probably a big part of the reason I love preaching – not this sermon, but the fact that I learned so much preaching this series 6 years ago. Thanks Phil for giving me a big topic and a big series. My take on suffering is the same now as it was then. Our sin contributes to our suffering, and to the suffering of our community and the world. This suffering isn’t punishment, but it can serve as discipline. I spent about 5 minutes strictly on the philosophical aspect and the role of free will. Interesting to hear that, I hope the 2-3 people who wonder on that level appreciated it. I remember how much it strained my brain to get there and engage the philosophical equation of suffering and free will.
Conclusion: watch out that your theology is too conservative (too quick to say “praise God” in the face of our suffering) or too liberal (don’t think Jesus has any power, he’s a nice guy who will sit with you and nothing else). Pray like a Psalmist. I think that in the midst of my sickness a few years ago I would’ve appreciated it even.
I wrote a blog about the point suffering about a month ago. Not sure if you are a fan of Francis Chan but he depicted an image beautifully about what it means to truly suffer:
“Imagine you’re on the other side of Jesus as He’s dying on the cross and you’re looking Him directly in the eyes as you’re being beaten too. As painful as it would be, imagine the fellowship. We hate pain, but imagine the fellowship that would happen between you both. Imagine the comfort and security of looking Jesus in the eyes and saying, “I’m right here with You.” Imagine how intimate you are with with Him and how safe you would feel.”
Suffering forces us to draw closer to Jesus. “For with God nothing that is suffered for His sake, no matter how small, can pass without reward. Be prepared for the fight, if you wish to gain victory.”
We sometimes lose too much and wonder what more could be taken from us. When we experience loss or pain of any kind, God gave back more than we could ever hope for. God gave us His Son and that’s the point.
Jesus is the point of suffering.
Well said! I read this a few times wondering how to respond. But all I can come up with is “well said” 🙂