Last week I told you that we all suffer August 18, 2019
It is because of the fall away from God's will for Adam and Eve where sin now results in human suffering.
There are different kinds of suffering...
One night, I was walking to the bathroom and kicked the furniture and smashed my little toe. Oh I was suffering. It wasn't the little toe that I hit. But after me trying to kiss my little toe... I pulled something in my back and I was in pain suffering for weeks.
There are different kinds of suffering. Some are dumb. Many are self inflicted. A person is told by the doctor to eat healthy and exercise. We hear it but we don't listen. Then when we are told you have a terminal sickness we start to drink Aojiru juice, overdose on vitamins, and eat goma seeds in everything. We hear but we don't listen.
God too is telling us something. Remember Job? “Out of the storm God spoke... 嵐の中から神様話した.”Now we can look at this in two ways. God is speaking to you or someone else. (Job 38:1)
The Bible shows us the kind of suffering that comes from the evil of others. You are innocent. You didn't ask for them to bully you or mistreat you. But you were there. Sometimes its from classmates. Sometimes from friends, the worst perhaps is from family.
In Genesis, there is the story of Joseph. A young boy who loved God. God gave him a special ability to have dreams that came true. He could also interpret dreams. He'd tell his dreams to his family. The 11 older brothers were jealous of him and especially because their father loved Joseph more than the others. So the brothers make a plan where Joseph secretly gets sold to slave traders. The brothers actually wanted to kill him but they sold him instead. Then they lied to their dad about it and slaughtered a goat and used the blood to trick the dad into thinking a wild animal ate him. Oh how the dad suffered because of their hate. Poor Joseph was now a slave and sold to an Egyptian. He had to work to clean Potifar's house and wash his clothes and take out garbage. He then was falsely accused of a crime. He went to jail for 7 years. Oh his suffering was great. But he kept having dreams and interpreting them. Even in the suffering he was still using God's gift to bless others. One day the Pharaoh of Egypt had a dream that no one can explain. Someone tells him of Joseph. Joseph tells him the meaning and is then exalted to second highest in the land. He is now leading Egyptian people as well as all the slaves and the work. The dream was a prophecy about a 7 year famine that needs to be prepared for. But he still suffers the wounds of his family. There is a big famine in the land of Joseph's family. They had to come to Egypt and beg for food. Joseph meets them. He wants to do evil to them but he loves them. He could have them killed. But he misses his father. God through the suffering has given Joseph a greater gift than telling dreams. He was able to see things from God's perspective and how salvation has come to all the world even his own family through the suffering. What Joseph experience all along was all God's mighty plan even the suffering. Let's see how Joseph summarized his life in Gen 50.
[Gen 50:20-21 NIV] 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. あなたがたは、私に悪を計りましたが、神はそれを、良いことのための計らいとなさいました。それはきょうのようにして、多くの人々を生かしておくためでした。 ですから、もう恐れることはありません。私は、あなたがたや、あなたがたの子どもたちを養いましょう。」こうして彼は彼らを慰め、優しく語りかけた。
The brothers wanted to kill Joseph. God wanted to save the family from certain death. Having God's view Joseph was able to forgive and release the pain and suffering and then also to go on to care for them and love them. So many families are broken all over the world. I know how the hurt cuts really deep. but if you can see things from God's perspective you get a greater sense of what he is doing and we can then enjoy the peace even when we must still endure pain. Many families do not speak to each other for 30 to 40 years and they don't remember what was said. But they will not reconcile. Many of those hurting are suffering through sickness or poverty or loneliness. If we will look beyond our hurts and pain and see the value of God at work he through us will seek to heal their heart and bring them to Jesus. It will bring God so much glory. It will change the course of your life. It will change the course of your families life.
Another kind of suffering...
Paul had to continue to minister and work in spite of pain and suffering. Did he just Tough it out? (gaman?) I don't know, But I believe he was closer to Jesus because he needed His strength more than anythings.
How does Paul use his sufferings?
In the Bible Paul the great apostle was doing so much work for God but he had a problem. The Bible doesn't say what his problem was. But he was suffering (2 Cor 12:7) 7また、その啓示があまりにもすばらしいからです。そのために私は、高ぶることのないようにと、肉体に一つのとげを与えられました。それは私が高ぶることのないように、私を打つための、サタンの使いです。 8このことについては、これを私から去らせてくださるようにと、三度も主に願いました。 9しかし、主は、「わたしの恵みは、あなたに十分である。というのは、わたしの力は、弱さのうちに完全に現われるからである。」と言われたのです。ですから、私は、キリストの力が私をおおうために、むしろ大いに喜んで私の弱さを誇りましょう。 and others too were suffering (Galatians 4:13-15) (13ご承知のとおり、私が最初あなたがたに福音を伝えたのは、私の肉体が弱かったためでした。14そして私の肉体には、あなたがたにとって試練となるものがあったのに、あなたがたは軽蔑したり、きらったりしないで、かえって神の御使いのように、またキリスト・イエスご自身であるかのように、私を迎えてくれました。 15それなのに、あなたがたのあの喜びは、今どこにあるのですか。私はあなたがたのためにあかししますが、あなたは、もしできれば自分の目をえぐり出して私に与えたいとさえ思ったではありませんか。 ) . Three times, Paul, the greatest church planter to live begged God to take this suffering away (2 Cor 12:7). Paul could heal others. His handkerchief would be taken to people far away and they'd get healed by touching it. But Paul could not heal himself. God said, “No, My grace is sufficient for you.”What??? God didn't heal him? If I were Paul I might be tempted to say, “Well fine then I quit!”But Paul didn't do that. He saw that God had a greater purpose to keep Paul humble and dependent on the Holy Spirit. When we suffer we have to ask others for help. It's embarrassing and meiwaku and not convenient. We also have to be dependent on God. But God works through things that we don't understand. Romans 8
Pastor Mark often talks of the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. わたし自身、あなたがたのために立てている計画をよく知っている──主のことば──。それはわざわいではなく平安を与える計画であり、あなたがたに将来と希望を与えるためのものだ。)
Paul no longer asked God for healing but he used it as a means of sharing the gospel. Instead of an anchor dragging along holding him back it was actually an engine that propelled him forward. [2Co 12:10 NIV] 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ですから、私は、キリストのために、弱さ、侮辱、苦痛、迫害、困難に甘んじています。なぜなら、私が弱いときにこそ、私は強いからです。
2 cor 1:3-5 [2Co 1:3-5 NIV] 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 3私たちの主イエス・キリストの父なる神、慈愛の父、すべての慰めの神がほめたたえられますように。 4 神は、どのような苦しみのときにも、私たちを慰めてくださいます。こうして、私たちも、自分自身が神から受ける慰めによって、どのような苦しみの中にいる人をも慰めることができるのです。 5 それは、私たちにキリストの苦難があふれているように、慰めもまたキリストによってあふれているからです。
2 cor 4:1 [2Co 4:1 NIV] 1 Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Suffering is a ministry. Did you know that? こういうわけで、私たちは、あわれみを受けてこの務めに任じられているのですから、勇気を失うことなく、
After being diagnoised with my heart problem here in Japan. We talked about going back to Los Angeles. Giving up. I became selfish. Like everyone pity me. “Oh I dropped my fork someone come pick it up for me, I'm sick.”The day before I was fine but now I am weaker. I can't teach English, I can't... and the list goes on. I can let the depression take over. It does from time to time. I've spent a day in bed feeling sorry for myself.” I ask God for forgiveness and ask him to heal my thinking. For me depression is just my negative thinking driving the car of my mind. It's out of control. But as we thought of going home the next thought would be and then what??? What will we do there that we can't already do here?
But God has given me too many promises. He has intervened in my life to change it and move me forward. Even though I had a bad attitude.
In the book of Peter he tells us some steps to take our suffering focus off of us and to allow God's will to lead us to do ministry and work for God through the suffering.
[1Pe 4:1-2, 12-19 KJV] 1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; If I am lying in a bed sick from chemo I most likely am not thinking about going to a party. Or gambling or lusting after others stuff.
2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. ...Surrendered to God's will.
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: If your surrendered God will work
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Bad suffering
16 Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? We demonstrate that life is not all waku waku but that humanity is dying to die. we are getting old. We need to tell others about the next life.
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
How do we turn ourselves around... Surrender to God... EVERYTHING. Let all worldly things go. Even family and kids. God's a much better parent than I am. Yes you take care of them. But let God work in their life. When bad things come help them to navigate the difficulties.
Have you divorced? Praise God you are now free to serve him.
Did you loose your job? Praise God you are now free to serve him and have him fine you a job
Are you get sick and have problems? Praise God you can now glorify him by telling others that Jesus has a new heavenly body you will get after you die.
Did you loose everything? Praise God you are now free to have only Jesus and nothing else. That's a good thing. The Bible teaches us the opposites are the good things. The first shall be last. The last shall be first. The poor of this earth shall inherit the kingdom of God. Those who suffer for Christ's sake will be rewarded greatly.
You can feel sorry for yourself and get people's sympathy and pity. Or you can turn that around and start the engine of encouraging others with sickness to look to Christ as he lifts up, he heals, he restores, he glorifies, and he takes us home.
God is speaking...We hear but we don't listen. Let's choose to listen from right now. Let's pray.