Where is God in my Suffering?

God Isn’t Fixing This. This was the front page headline of the New York Daily News from December 3, 2015 in the wake of the San Bernardino, CA shooting that left 14 people dead. It’s only natural that we begin to question God’s ability and sovereign power in the midst of such evil, often leading us to ask the question, “Where is God in my suffering?”

Scripture reveals reality: suffering is part of the human experience. We will all suffer because of original sin. It has corrupted all of creation, tarnishing God’s perfect work by introducing evil, wrongdoing, physical decay, and even death. These things did not exist prior the fall of man (see Genesis 3). Thankfully, God’s promise to deliver a son of man to crush the head of the serpent and sin forever (Genesis 3:15) has been fulfilled.

When we suffer, it’s in our nature to cry out. We need a Redeemer. We need a Savior. We need One who can rescue us from the plight and curse of original sin. One who can restore all of creation to its intended, perfected, and glorious state. Jesus Christ shares in our suffering so that we may live.

The Central Figure

Do you ever feel like your faith as a Christian is one big circle that seems to go nowhere? Or perhaps is it better described as a tug-a-war match between God and Satan with you in the middle of it? More importantly, how is it that many of us can regularly participate in church, read scripture, pray, and attend a community group (what we call small groups or Bible studies at our church), but still feel as if we’re coming up short and unsatisfied in our Christian walk?

I’ve come to realize the answer is simple but deeply rooted within us: We love the Law. I’m not talking about the laws of the land, but the Biblical laws and mandates most commonly found in the Old Testament. Christians are labeled hypocrites because we spend more time learning to be legalists than walking in the freedom and grace of Jesus Christ. This should be of no surprise to us because we live in a hyper-pragmatic culture that loves to-do lists, steps to a better relationship, workout plans, specific diets, and life-hacks. It’s only natural that we would extend these behaviors into our faith, but the problem is they are totally incompatible.

More disturbing is that many Christian churches, preachers, authors, and musicians are unknowingly feeding the beast within us. With the rise in “experiential worship” and “Christian self-help” preaching and books masqueraded under the guise of “practical, life-application”, we’ve been creating a generation of Christians with a faith that places you and me at the center of the biblical story. The result? A neurotic life that is caught between the greatest source of hope and freedom the world has ever known and our pursuit of self-righteousness.

The reality is, we are prone to miss the central figure in the story of salvation – Jesus Christ.

 

The Necessity of Prayer

It wouldn’t surprise most that prayer is a necessary aspect to our journey of faith in Christ. But why? Prayer is necessary because it increases our faith in the God who heals, restores and saves. When we pray to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ, we are acknowledging our willful submission to God. In other words — “I don’t have this, so help!”

Prayer is an active process that appeals to God in a posture that reflects our dependence on Him, thus increasing our faith in His sovereignty. The goal in the journey of faith is not to treat prayer as a secondary response to the critical, painful, or fearful moments of life, but rather a natural response in every moment.

The Practice of Prayer

With the affluence of technology such as email and text messaging, handwritten letters are quickly growing out of style and practice especially among the younger generation. I myself am included in this and the evidence is in my rapidly deteriorating handwriting. Likewise, as affluent Westerners with access to everything and any anything within the free two-day shipping window through Amazon, our dependence on a sovereign and loving Lord becomes less appealing and necessary. As a result, our prayer life becomes less used and therefore out of style and practice.

However, prayer is not reserved only for the moments when we need something, but rather is best understood in the context of a relationship between you and a Holy God. Although your methods of communication between friends and family have changed, the nature and purpose of your communication has not. We still communicate with those whom we love, need and intimately understand us.

Reignite your prayer life with this encouraging and grace-saturated sermon, “The Practice of Prayer”, from Matthew 6:5-15.

 

God Always Wins!

If you’re anything like me, I want to be on the winning team, or at the very least, rooting for the winning team. I like to win as much as anyone else. I don’t consider myself a sore-loser, but seriously, who really enjoys losing? I can lose and still respect the winning team, but I would rather be standing in their shoes, basking in the glory of victory by overcoming the opposition.

Our walk of faith and approach to God is often pitted in a win-lose situation. We struggle to walk by faith because we doubt God’s ability to win the battles of adversity, hardship and suffering we encounter in our lives. We assume because we encounter trials, struggles and pain, somehow we have already lost. But have we even watched a single game of football in our life? Pain is part of the game. Whether you win or you lose, you are bound to take a hard hit as part of the struggle to reign victoriously at the end of the fourth quarter. Our problem is simple: we doubt God’s ability to win the battles in our life despite the necessary pain that comes with winning in a fallen world.

If you need encouragement today over the battles in your life, then hear this: God always wins! The following is Part 2 of a sermon series looking at the life of King Hezekiah.

 

 

God Restores Broken Lives

Just the other day my son snapped a new toy of his in half. It was a small motorcycle that he was enjoying “zooming” along every piece of furniture that he could find. He apparently became curious to discover how the plastic parts came together, and well, because he’s only two and half years old, *snap*. There’s no denying that we live in a world where things break. Nothing is meant to last. My attempt to fix the toy with superglue was only a temporary solution until my son decided to test the strength of the glue.

Even our very lives are immortal and fragile, subject to the crushing weight of struggle, pain, suffering and sin. There isn’t enough superglue, surgeries, treatment plans, diets or counseling sessions in this world that can truly and fully restore our lives from our fallen condition. Only in the power of the gospel can true redemption be found. The following is Part 1 of a sermon looking at the life of King Hezekiah and learning the lesson that God does restore broken lives.

The Power, Purpose and Promise of God

Our modern affluent lives revolve around the things that fill us up. Coffee, Netflix, sports, dinner parties, weekend getaways, smartphones and shopping. We long to be filled with something that promises power and purpose in our lives, but these things always fall short and last only for a moment. Thankfully, God has already provided a perfectly fulfilling power and purpose that begins today and lasts for eternity – the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not some cheap digital app that’s meant to improve our lives by helping us become more productive, organized or healthy. The Holy Spirit is God’s eternal power, purpose and promise given to every believer in Jesus Christ.