Pain, Tragedy & Affliction

 
Sunday September 28, 2014   Phone: 570.829.5216
Pastor David Miklas e-mail pdmikBBM@aol.com
Message: Pain, Tragedy & Affliction #2 Text: II Cor. 4:16-18 

 

Why Lord, Why Me?

 

Introduction: As we begin this message focus your attention on II Corinthians 4:16-18,

 

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

Often in the midst of DIFFICULTY, SUFFERING, PAIN, AFFLICTION or even DEATH and TRAGEDY we look into the face of Jesus through our tears and say, "WHY LORD, WHY ME, WHY US?" Listen to this poem entitled WHY? By experience as a pastor, I know this poem all too well.

 

I have sat beside a tiny crib, and watched a baby die,

As parents slowly turned to me, to ask, "Oh, Pastor, Why?"

 

I have held the youthful husband's head, and felt death's heave and sigh.

A widow looked through tears and said, "Dear Pastor, tell me why?"

 

I have seen a gold-star mother weep, and hold a picture nigh

Her lonely breast, and softly ask, "Why? Pastor, Why, Oh, Why?"

 

I have heard the white-tipped tapping cane, which leads a blinded eye.

And then a darkened, lonely voice, cries, "Preacher, show me why."

 

I have heard the cancer patient say, "This gain for me to die;"

Then look into his daughter's face, and mutely whisper, "Why?"

 

I've heard an orphan faintly say, who gazed into the sky,

"Tho Mom and Dad have gone away, my preacher will know Why."

 

I tiptoed to my Father's throne, so timid and so shy,

To say, "Dear God, some of Your own are wanting to know Why."

 

I heard Him say so tenderly, "Their eyes I'll gladly dry,

Tho they must look through faith today, tomorrow they'll know Why."

 

"If now they find the reasons that their hopes have gone awry,

In Heaven, they will miss the joy, of hearing Me tell Why.

 

And so I've found it pleases Him, when I can testify,

"I'll trust my God to do what's best, and wait to find out Why."

 

In this message I wish I could give you all the WHY's. However, let us first review last week’s message:

 

Number 1: There is affliction which we may easily understand. There is PAIN, TRAGEDY and AFFLICTION which comes into our lives, for which there are not a lot of questions because we can understand WHY?

Number 2: There is affliction which may be eventually understood. Some of these come into our lives and for now there is no explanation. You can't comprehend WHY? But eventually the answer will be given.

Number 3: There is affliction which enters into our lives from which there is absolutely no answer apart from the sovereignty of God. Only in eternity will we receive an answer WHY?

 

Remember GOD IS SOVEREIGN in the affairs of men. In Psalms 145:17 we read, "The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and Holy in all His works." Whatever God does is RIGHT. Whatever God does is JUST.

 

Now back to today’s text in II Corinthians 4:17, Paul describes this suffering as "Our LIGHT affliction." Perhaps you are tempted to say at the outset, “What do you mean "LIGHT affliction"? The Apostle Paul has no Idea what I am going through. If he has known only light affliction,” then how can he understand my difficult situation.”

 

Hold it! If you want to know what “light affliction” was like for the Apostle Paul, tune into II Corinthians 11:23-28 where we read,

 

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. (24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. (25) Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (28) Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

 

Do you see the list of "light affliction""beating, stoning, shipwreck, fasting, fighting, labor, peril, persecution, sorrow, stripes, suffering, tears, and weakness."

 

Now back in II Corinthians 4:17, Paul compares our light affliction” to time, "which is a moment." In comparison to eternity, our troubles, sorrows, and afflictions are only for a moment. Paul is saying this suffering is working for him. It is worth every minute of it, and he is thankful for it.

 

In verse 18, the word "Look" refers to an intense observation into a telescope, bringing that which is afar into focus. Paul was thankful, because he saw this temporary suffering in comparison to the weight of eternal glory that will one day be revealed.

 

So we ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?” Maybe you look at it that way, but God's Word has a different perspective. Here are 7 reasons for suffering.

 

FIRST: Suffering is designed to demonstrate the Grace and Power of God. There are times during which God will take us through some grievous sorrow and pain, what Paul called his "Thorn in the flesh." The Apostle Paul explains in II Corinthians 12:7-10 how his "Thorn in the flesh," his near blindness was a demonstration of God's grace and power.

 

At first Paul was disturbed, since this physical affliction was a threat to his effectiveness in God's service. Then he prayed for its removal, verses 7-8 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

 

The Lord answered, but not in the way Paul had hoped. Instead of removing the infirmity, notice verse 9a, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”

 

Paul's response showed no regret but rather he said in verses 9b-10, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

 

Paul is telling us not to look at affliction as an unwelcome guest, but rather as a means of God demonstrating His Power of Grace and Glory.

 

SECOND: Suffering is designed to show us the mercy of God. Times of travail can be times of birth. Today's suffering can mean tomorrow's glory. God is not accomplishing all His purposes today, nor is He explaining all His plans. However, we do know whatever the situation "God's mercy endureth forever."

 

Twenty-six times in Psalm 136 we read that "His mercy endureth forever." Even in the midst of pain, sorrow, disappointment and death, the mercy of God is still there. One can hardly pass over tragedies in the life of Horatio Spaffort. Here is his story.

 

Horatio Spaffort was a successful attorney in Chicago. He was the father of four daughters, an active member of his Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D.L. Moody and other evangelical leaders of his day. Then a series of calamities began, starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871 which wiped out the family’s extensive real estate investments. Shortly thereafter in order to lift the spirits of his family he planned a vacation for them in Europe.

 

In November 1873, Mr. Spaffort was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Harve. Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in 12 minutes. All four of the Spaffort daughters, were among the 226 who drowned. Mrs. Spaffort was among the few who were miraculously saved.

 

Immediately Horatio Spaffort left to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Wales. When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Horatio Spaffort received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write, “It is well with my soul.” What a picture of our hope!

 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

 

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll:

 The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,

“Even so” it is well with my soul.

 

Why could he write that in the midst of sorrow and pain of soul? Why, because of the everlasting mercy of God. In those hours and in those times when we have the most difficulty understanding, it is there that GOD'S MERCY ENDURETH FOR EVER.

 

THIRD: Suffering is designed to fashion in us the Character of Patience. The challenge in our lives is not to EXPLAIN SUFFERING, but rather to face it and make it WORK FOR US AND NOT AGAINST US.

 

The process by which God builds this quality into our lives is outlined in Romans 5:1-5,

 

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

 

Suffering is God’s way of building PATIENCE into our lives. Notice the words here.

 

Tribulation: The Greek word meaning "pressure" was used to describe the crushing of the grapes in the press. It takes TRIALS to make something beautiful and useful out of the raw material of life.

Patience: This word means "the ability to stay with it and not fall apart." We know it as endurance.

Experience: A better word to use here would be "character." What we are made of is revealed in our suffering.

Tribulation produces endurance, and endurance in turn produces character. Notice that character produces hope.

 

Hope is CONFIDENCE IN THE FUTURE. If we have proved the faithfulness of God in the afflictions of life, THEN WE KNOW HE CAN HANDLE WHATEVER MAY LIE AHEAD.

 

FOURTH: Suffering is designed to develop in us the means of being a comfort to others. The sufferings we experience will either involve us with others, or isolate us from others. We will either build WALLS or BRIDGES, depending on the attitude we take.

 

I have watched people build walls of self-pity, resentment, bitterness, and unbelief. Behind these walls they languish in loneliness and spiritual and emotional poverty. On the other hand, I have seen suffering people build bridges and reach out with loving hands to others who hurt.

 

The Apostle Paul had this thought in mind when he wrote II Corinthians 1:3, 4, 8-11,

 

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (4) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (8) For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: (9) But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (10) Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (11) Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”

 

The word “comforteth” in these verses means more than sympathy. Paul used the Greek word meaning "To come along side of to help." Another word that we could use here would be ENCOURAGEMENT which means "to put heart into it."

 

The best way to comfort others is just to focus on the God of all comfort. Our job is not to DEFEND GOD by giving an answer to the WHY'S of LIFE, but rather to DEMONSTRATE GOD’S LOVE in a practical way. PEOPLE NEED GOD FAR MORE THAN THEY NEED EXPLANATIONS. They need to trust the God Paul met in his hour of suffering.

 

I know that Matthew 25:24-40 is a prophetic passage that will take place upon the return of Christ after the tribulation, but nevertheless the principles still can apply to us. You will notice Jesus gives us six activities we can do to show mercy or compassion to others. Our Lord said:

 

You want to feed me? Then feed some of my hungry brethren.

You want to quench my thirst? Then give some water to a thirsty brother in Christ.

You want to clothe me? Then put clothes on one of the brethren.

You want to comfort me? Then comfort a stranger, make him feel welcome and at home.

You want to uplift me? Then visit someone in the hospital.

You want to visit with me? Then visit someone who is in jail.

 

You do something for Jesus by doing something for others. Let me read to you a statement I have read to many staff members of Christian schools over the years.

 

"The little girl lingered in the classroom after all the others had left. Reluctantly, with painful heart, she told that her mom was home with a new boyfriend; and she wasn't wanted around. Her dad had a new girlfriend. Her brother was on drugs, and her sister constantly picked on her. She told the teacher, "I just wish someone would hug me!"

Has the Christian community lost its sensitivity to the hurting all around us? More and more in this busy, hurry-hurry world of ours, we seem to say to those hurting, those afraid, those lonely, "be healed," and then we go our merry way. Dear heart, a warm handshake, a hand laid gently on the shoulder, a quick little hug can give more encouragement than many hours of counseling. Little boys and girls, big boys and girls, college students, lonely shut-ins, men and women, and people in this ministry all need to know that “YOU CARE ABOUT THEM.”

 

Why not find someone this week to comfort?

 

MAYBE there is a member you don't know but you need to find out about, who you can personally reach by doing something for them.

MAYBE go visit one of the shut-ins.

MAYBE write a letter to one of the missionaries.

MAYBE do something unexpected for one of our members.

MAYBE  you need to find some little boy or girl or teenager or even a  mom or dad in your neighborhood to reach out to and say, “ I CARE FOR YOU FOR JESUS SAKE.”

 

We must be channels of God's comfort to help people have:

 

The courage to face life honestly,

The wisdom to understand what to do,

The strength to do it, and

The faith and hope to wait for God to do the rest.

 

God's promises are medicine for a broken heart. Let Him comfort you. It could be that God has taken you through that problem or suffering for the purpose of someday bringing comfort to someone else on your life's journey.

 

FIFTH: Suffering at times is designed to restore us to fellowship. Turning to Psalm 119: 65-67 we read,

 

“Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. (66) Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. (67) Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Permit me to rearrange verse 67 in this way: "When I went astray, when I backslid it was then I was afflicted, now I am keeping close to thy word."

 

Now in verse 71 we read, “It is good for me that I have been AFFLICTED; that I might learn thy statutes.” David is saying, “If I hadn't been afflicted, I still would be backslidden, I still would be drifting further and further away from God.” However, God cared enough for me to bring me back and he used affliction to do so.

 

Now in verse 75 we read, “I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” The point being made here is: when we drift away from the Lord, God will use physical affliction to draw us back unto Himself.

 

What is the point? At times when you or I are out of fellowship with God, He will bring PHYSICAL AFFLICTION into our lives, in order to bring us back into fellowship with Him.

 

SIXTH: Suffering is designed to prepare us for greater service. Soon after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, in Acts 9:16, Paul learned his new life would involve much pain and suffering, for God said, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake."

 

Take heart, suffering child of God, your infirmity may provide a wonderful means by which you will be made more useful as a servant of Jesus Christ. Whether your talents are many or few, the attitude you display in times of difficulty and the testimony you give can become spiritual dynamite in the life of others.

 

Many Christians on their sickbeds are having far greater impact for God through their prayers and example than they would if they were enjoying robust health.

 

SEVENTH: Suffering is designed to turn your heart toward Jesus. My friend, are you disturbed and perplexed by the fact of human suffering? Are you asking "WHY LORD, WHY ME?" The next time you are thrown into the midst of adversity, difficulty, pain and suffering remember this,

 

Times of travail can be times of birth. Today's suffering can mean tomorrow's glory. God is not accomplishing all His purposes today, nor is He explaining all His plans. However, God is thinking about you personally, and is planning for you in ways that you could never understand let alone imagine. LET GOD HAVE HIS WAY. REST IN HIM. PLACE YOUR TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST.

 

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus tells us, "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls."

 

The hymn writer wrote,

 

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face!

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His Glory and Grace."

 

In closing, please turn your attention again to II Corinthians 4:17-18 as we read,

 

“For our LIGHT AFFLICTION, which is but for a MOMENT, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: While we look not on the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

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If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “Why Lord, Why Me?” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.

 

Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in

 

Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”

Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”

If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.

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