16 Reasons Why People Suffer

Suffer

A few nights ago we experienced a rare Pacific Northwest house-shaking BOOM of thunder which led our daughters quickly out of their bedroom in search for comfort, and answers. Their mom and I reminisced about our developed fondness for thunderstorms growing up in Indiana and Florida, and comforted them with a satisfying scientific lesson and assurance of God’s sovereignty.

But, in the morning, our second oldest wanted MORE answers!

She said, “Dad, God makes the lightening that comes out of the sky and kills people. WHY WOULD HE DO THAT!?” I replied, “And, there, my lovely daughter, you have asked the number one question that keeps people away from God and struggling through life. Why do people suffer?”

16 Reasons

Why do we suffer? My dad tells the story that one of his seminary professors in the 1960’s challenged his class to study the Scriptures to determine that very thing – why God allows suffering in the world. My dad, the young pastor, concluded from his study that Scripture identified five basic reasons why people suffer.  He placed those five on a small piece of paper in his Bible as he visited people with some physical or emotional affliction. Over years of more study his small piece of paper grew into a detailed chart. He ultimately concluded that God’s Word gives 16 general reasons why people suffer in this world.

Dad’s journey was years. I want everyone to have this in their hands right now. So, I have put his chart below, and have attached a printable Word document here. It is not a simple question, but it is a vital question for us to answer; and, one which will lead to glories, faith, peace, assurance, and convictions of many kinds. Please consider these 16 reasons prayerfully, and research the Scriptures for yourselves.

Suffering Chart

Notice that there are some things God holds as more important than our comfortable circumstances – His glory, the fulfillment of His redemptive plan to eradicate evil, and our relationship with Him. By His grace He shares His glory with His children. In future glorification in heaven believers attain likeness to the glorified Christ and are freed from both physical and spiritual defect. We will never again experience bodily decay, death or illness, and will never again struggle with sin. We will see God as He is, face to face, and walk and reign and rule with Him forever.

What About Right Now?

Right now, in the face of your struggles today, the delight of knowing Him and being His brings joy, peace, satisfaction, and contentment in this life, in all circumstances. If you grasp these truths, you will experience routine praise. You will not be shocked at any bad thing. You will say to suffering, the lower you lay me the higher you raise me.

Or, you might waste it. In an article called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer,” John Piper and David Powlison identify several mistakes that can make us waste God’s plan in our suffering. I’m going to change the word “cancer” in these to “sufferings” because they apply to all. They write:

  1. You will waste your suffering if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
  2. You will waste your suffering if you think that “beating” it means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
  3. You will waste your suffering if you grieve as those who have no hope.
  4. You will waste your suffering if you treat sin as casually as you did before.
  5. You will waste your suffering if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and the glory of Christ.

Are You a Child of God?

But, it all starts with salvation from sin. Whether you are in a time of prosperity and comfort right now, or a time of suffering, pain, and disappointment, God says that we are all sinners and stand condemned without repentant trusting faith in Jesus Christ. But, Jesus suffered for our sins so that He may save us from our sins. So, don’t wait any longer. Repent of your sins and call on Him for salvation today. He will answer.

Considering the hardest parts of life, together, with patience and endurance, for God’s glory and our joy,

Reg

P.S. Volumes have been written and discussed on this subject, but in your searching for answers I would most recommend the resources on http://www.desiringgod.com under a search for “suffering.”

How to Make Bible Reading a Priority This Year – 2013

Hi Friends,

HAPPY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR!

What is going to mark your life in 2013? Here is one important idea.

Both God and experience declare that reading and applying the Bible will impact your life’s success more than anything else. So, let’s make sure we all have a plan to make Bible reading a priority this year.

First, some encouragement. If we spend some time and energy on the Bible, we can master it! Don’t let it get crowded out of your life this year. Love God and His Word. Be excited about these Words of Life! Be committed to them. Never assume they are irrelevant or not understandable. Make this your top priority this year!

Now the question, How? 

Here are two keys to success in making Bible reading a priority this year:

1. Christian Friendship

Christian friendships are one of God’s greatest provisions for our lives. Good Christian friends can help us understand the Bible and keep us on track living it out more than anyone or anything else can.

Are your Christian friendships doing this with each other?

IronSharpensIron

If so, you are in great shape for prioritizing God’s Word in your life. I just preached an entire sermon on this subject which lays out the “hows” and “whys” in Christian friendships. You can listen to it here, or read it here: Sermon – Christian Friendship, 123012 – MANUSCRIPT.

2. Bible Reading Plans

Bible reading plans work. There are many. Here are the best for our church to consider:

youversion2

  • Even better is the fantastic collection of creative Bible reading plans offered by “YouVersion” – a free “ap” on your smartphone, or a free website, at www.youversion.com/reading-plans.  I have never seen a better collection of Bible reading plans. And, their daily reminder options are actually very helpful. Here are the types of categories of plans that you can try. There are dozens of plans within these categories:

Topical
Whole Bible
Partial Bible
Devotional
Related to the works of many of your favorite authors or artists
Seasonal and Holiday themes
Family
Youth
And more! Don’t hesitate to sign up for a free account with this website. It’s one of the best web tools out there.

  • Pastor Jim’s favorite website to recommend for reading plans and other various helps for exploring and understanding the Bible is www.biblestudytools.com. Be sure to save that one to your “favorites” as well.
  • Perhaps the best place to start, however, is with the exciting plan from the appendixes of our recent HEROES study book, the “100 Essential Passages Reading Plan.” My wife, Sarah, and I started reading this together about a month ago, and it has been a fantastic, quick-moving journey through the Bible. Sarah said that it has completely revived her passion for reading God’s Word. It will take 17-20 weeks for us to finish, and then we plan to hop on the YouVersion list to choose another plan together that excites us both.

Download this plan here – 100 Essential Passages Bible Reading Plan

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

You have been encouraged and equipped for a transforming year of experiencing God’s will in your life. The rest is up to you! Enjoy the journey.

Blessings on 2013,

Pastor Reg

P.S. Here is what’s in store for the upcoming Semester, kicking off on January 20! 

Winter/Spring Semester, 2013

Here are a few important dates to put on your calendar right now:

1.  The 2nd annual Lake City Family Summit happens Saturday, January 12, 9:00AM-1:00PM. NFL quaterback Jon Kitna and his wife Jen will be our primary speakers, along with several breakout sessions.  As usual, the small group leaders training will be contained in one of those 50 minute workshops.

2.  If you miss the Summit, a small group leader training make-up session happens Sunday, January 20, during 2nd service (10:50AM-12:10PM), in the Gym.

3.  The Official Kickoff Week of Winter/Spring Semester is the week of January 20. Of course, groups have autonomy to start earlier or later, based on their semester plan.

4.  Pastor Jim resumes the Luke Sermon Series on Feb. 2/3, a good option for any group who would like to study Luke’s gospel along with the weekend sermons. We will have resources.