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Why Do We Suffer?

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The person in rebellion toward God argues that suffering gives clear evidence of the lack of power or lack of existence of a good and loving God who is in control of everything.  And every God-fearing Christian deals with the question of why suffering troubles those who are righteous and walking in Christ.  So what does the Bible reveal about man’s suffering?

In the Old Testament suffering is addressed in Job, one of the earliest books written.  Though even a small child who has ever experienced discipline knows why bad people suffer, to see a good man suffer is a difficult matter.  Job did not suffer because he was sinful.  His three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar contended that Job’s afflictions were punishment for evil in his conduct.  However, after Job’s season of suffering was over God refused to have anything to do with the three friends until Job offered sacrifices for them.  God’s declaration made it clear that what they had spoken and concluded was not right (Job 42:7).  God had instead declared Job a very mature (or perfect) servant (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3).  Job’s season of suffering began with complete surrender and worship (Job 1:20-22).  But he grew angrier when his suffering and questions went unresolved for a season.  In Job 23:1-7 he proclaimed that if he knew where to find God he would present his case and arguments, hear God’s answers and be delivered from God the judge.  Because Job moved from worshipping and not questioning the good and bad allowed from God to an angry insistence on defending himself, he encountered two separate rounds of questioning by God.  Both sessions resulted in humble silence as God asked Job if he could answer the complexities of creation, the earth and its creatures.  Job was a righteous, obedient and God-fearing man, but God was showing Satan, the angels and all heavenly beings that a man who was not as powerful as the angels would obey Him even as Satan, who had served at the very throne of God, through his pride had fallen and been dismissed from God’s presence.  The conclusion?  Man’s suffering always serves a purpose higher, more eternal and far-reaching than we can know.  As a coach does to his athletes, a parent to their children, a boss to his employees, a sergeant to his troops or an educator to his class, the superior often has higher motives, goals and purposes than what the subordinate can perceive or grasp what can be very difficult but which is allowed for higher purposes.

In the New Testament, a believer suffers with Christ (Matthew 10:25; John 15:18-19; Acts 9:15-16; Romans 8:16-18; 9:1-3; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:24; II Timothy 2:11-12; I Peter 4:12-16).  Suffering with Christ will be a part of every Christian’s life and experience.  We dwell in an enemy’s land, are called to be witnesses against sin and are therefore laboring to bring the lost out of their evil and darkness.  This can and should be expected to create hostility, opposition, resentment, a sense of threat and reactions that can result in suffering for those called to be ambassadors of Christ.  Jesus told His followers, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).  To those who did not believe Jesus He said, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil”  (John 7:7).  “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master.  If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!”  (Matthew 10:25).  “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (I Peter 4:12-13).

These passages make very clear that suffering with Christ is the only path into the reward of being glorified with Christ in heaven.  This suffering has nothing to do with securing our salvation, but clearly reveals that the degree of human suffering is linked to the glorious crown and reward given to the faithful as co-heirs with Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).

Thus, the scriptures reveal that suffering can be part of God’s greater plan to teach us, angels, and all of the heavenlies of His grace and its fruit of righteousness in lives such as Job and in every believer including you and me.   It is also to test our suffering with Christ in this fallen world that leads  to reward and inheritance with Christ in His future kingdom.  One last reason scriptures teach we suffer is because of the discipline of the Father.

God’s discipline for believers can result in suffering in one of three areas.  It can be preventive (II Corinthians 12:1-10; Romans 8:34).  The suffering can also be corrective (Hebrews 12:3-15), with possible results of holiness and the peaceable fruit of righteousness (John 15:2; I Corinthians 11:29-32; I John 5:16).  And finally, God’s suffering through discipline can be educational.  Christians may be strengthened in their spiritual life by suffering (John 15:2).  Even though He was God’s Son, Christ learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

So as this new year begins, look through the eyes of God’s truths to see what He is accomplishing.  I have considered several times of intense suffering I have endured in life.  When they happened I felt the victim, defending myself and agonizing over acts of betrayal, slander, judgment, innuendos, injustice and such.  During such times I have also encountered demonic attacks alongside human circumstances.  The demonic attacks made the suffering even darker, weightier and more ominous.  The temptation to lash out, fight back, run, quit and abandon my trust in a good God accompanied the event, season and relationships that initiated the suffering.  Early in seasons of suffering my words, emotions and actions have been both undependable and volatile.

But as time passed I could clearly see God’s sovereignty, grace and power.  Areas of pride, sin and self-sufficiency were exposed, leading to personal acceptance, confession and repentance.  Powers that threaten to harm me, both of this world and in the spirit realm, are rendered powerless before God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.  He always delivers.  Experience and wisdom are gleaned.  Confidence in Christ is gained.  Obedience is magnified.  And faith in God’s plan, purpose and involvement are cemented.

People have often asked me through the years if I would go through the great trial, the tribulation, the rejection, the agony, the frailty and the suffering again in order to learn and end up spiritually where these times have led me.  My answer is absolutely, though I never want to walk through the valley of the shadow of death again soon, lest my own foolish heart, so slow to sometimes believe God, might be vulnerable to fail Him in some new trial set before me.  When it comes to suffering, my experience, and most importantly God’s word, here is what every son and daughter of the living God can claim: “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 1:6).

Posted by Craig Lile with

Why Do People Become Bored With Worship And Church, And How Should They Respond?

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With many people being incredibly busy, it is easy for us to fall into simply going through the motions. Going from one event to the next, we find ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. This rut and mechanical, robotic mentality can sometimes cause believers to become bored with worship on Sundays and ultimately with church. While this occurs with many believers at some point in their lives, the response as followers of Christ is never to stay in this boredom. Our first desire and passion should always be to “love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37). From this commandment, all other desires of the Lord fall into place. However, if we are struggling with boredom and resist the Holy Spirit’s pull to bring us back into alignment, loving the Lord with all our heart becomes pretty difficult. The very definition of “boredom” is a lack of interest and difficulty concentrating on a given subject. Therefore, when we are bored with worship or church, we are saying to the Lord, “I am not focused on what You are trying to teach me and reveal to me, and honestly God, I really don’t care.” The reality is that many people who justify their boredom drop out of church, trying to live out their faith on their own. But, God never meant for Christianity to function solely within an individual. Just read these passages and you’ll see what I mean: James 5:19-20; Hebrews 10:24-25; Colossians 4:16; Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. We as believers are called to gather together, encourage one another, disciple and mentor each other, and sing songs of praise to the glory of the Lord.

So, what does a person do when he or she is bored with worship or is losing interest in church? Before we dig into practical ways that can help to cultivate a love and passion for worship and church, let’s look at the root of the issue: the heart. Our actions, words, and thoughts do not randomly occur, but instead they are birthed from our true beliefs, core values, and desires. If I have a problem with anger and work to erase this sin from my life, that is a good thing. 1 John 2:3 tells us that, “…we have come to know him if we keep his commandments.” However, telling myself that I will just be better and that all I have to do is stop having angry outbursts will get me in trouble; it is slapping a Band-Aid on the problem and only dealing with the symptoms. Rather, address the core issue as to why I am angry and what in my heart is causing my issues. Dealing only with the symptoms serves to delay the needed healing of my heart. I can begin to hide what I am truly feeling, thus living one set of values in public and another in private. Not only does Jesus warn about this in the Gospels (Luke 12:1-3; 18:9-14), but this can also lead to sadness, depression, and a sense of loneliness, for the walls that have been created to keep others from knowing my private life isolate me.

The next step is admitting to ourselves that this feeling of boredom in the church doesn’t happen overnight. It builds over time and will usually take awhile to heal and get through. Consider James 1:14-15. What occurs when we are struggling with boredom is that our first desire has strayed from loving the Lord, drifting instead to personal longings. Before we know it, our thoughts become indifferent toward God, because His plans interfere with the present state of our hearts (our own personal desire has taken top priority over God’s desires). This can then lead to apathy toward the plans God has for us and our church. Before we realize it, we find ourselves bored with God and worship on Sundays. Having our own desires for our lives, such as getting healthy and working out, or encouraging our children in their athletics, is a great thing. But when that desire for a hobby or activity takes precedence over God’s desires, problems will soon arise. 1 Corinthians 8:9 states, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” While this is in reference to eating food offered to idols, this can also be applied to the freedom we have in taking part in enjoyable activities. This passage is stating that love for God and love of others is to be our top priority. God’s priorities then motivate us, guarding against that which is unfulfilling or boring.

So, we know that the antidote to boredom starts in the heart and will take some time and work to realign our desires to be in harmony with God’s desires. But, how is this practically done? Here are some different steps to take in order to help cultivate a love and passion for worship and church:

 

  • Humble ourselves before the Lord. Admit that the Lord knows best for our lives and has our best interests in mind (Romans 8:28).
  • Focus on our prayer life. It is vitally important that we rely on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who knows our hearts and knows what needs to change so that we can be more like Christ. It is through prayer that we tune into the Spirit and receive guidance and strength. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 calls for us to pray without ceasing, and many other passages speak to the importance of prayer. God can and does work outside of prayer, but the main way that we hear His will is through prayer. Praying to our heavenly Father draws us closer to Him, just as spending time with a dear friend grows our friendship. And, by the Spirit living within us, we grow more in tune to the desires of God, slowly erasing our boredom.
  • Realize that worship and church is not about us. You may have noticed that on the topic of worship, I have not yet mentioned anything about the style of music, the instruments being used, or song choices. Struggling with boredom goes beyond the type of music being played. Many people come to worship on Sundays expecting the sole focus to be about filling them up, a kind of consumerism mentality. But, we miss a huge part of Christianity when we become so focused on ourselves. Hebrews 10:25 calls for believers to regularly come together as a way for us to encourage one another. 1 Corinthians 12:27 states that, “…you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Oh how we miss the mark when we come to church only for ourselves! Worship on Sundays is a chance to mourn with our friend as he or she deals with the loss of a loved one or celebrate with other believers as we worship the King of Kings with one voice! The next time we are engaged in worship through music on Sundays, I challenge us to open our eyes and look around at all the people unified in singing praises to God. Let us take notice of other believers around us passionately singing His praises. It will be like a veil has been lifted from our eyes, allowing us to see Christianity from a completely different perspective. Corporate worship unifies believers and binds one another together. Let us pray that the Lord would open our eyes to the people and events around us.
  • Gain perspective on what worship and church means on Sundays. Gathering together on Sundays is more than just following a command of God. It is also a chance for us to grow together in one accord. Ephesians 4:15-16 calls for us to be joined like a building with Christ as the head or cornerstone, each individual working together so that we are built up in love. What better way to do this then each Sunday? Moreover, when we sing together songs about Christ’s death and resurrection, the life we have in Christ, our need and dependence on the Lord, asking forgiveness of sins, etc., it is not only unifying, but it is also a constant reminder of our new life in Christ. Just like in the Lord’s Supper, we remember God’s work of salvation in the past, present, and future through singing. And, when we hear the word being preached in sermons, we have the wonderful opportunity to dive deep into the scriptures to allow the Spirit to work and shape our hearts into the likeness of Jesus. Pray and ask the Lord to give you perspective on why we meet on Sundays.
  • Get involved! Sometimes when we are bored with church, we are saying, “I don’t have anything to do….” I know all of us on staff here at Faith would agree in saying that this couldn’t be further from the truth! There are so many different ministries to get involved with, and if you are looking for God to use you in some way, we would love to sit down with you and talk about how God can use you here at Faith. Even if you are unsure of how God might use you, I promise that He has a special place for you in church. Remember, 1 Corinthians 12:14 tells us that the church consists of many different members, and each believer has a unique talent that has been given by God in order that he or she can serve the body (1 Peter 4:10). 

My desire and hope is that every believer at Faith Baptist Church, every Christian in Wichita Falls, and every follower of Christ in the world would have one true desire for their top priority to be in harmony with the desires of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not once did Jesus or any of the apostles convey that the Christian walk would be easy, and there will be times when all of us will have to wrestle with boredom. But, let us be identified as believers that resist the urge to stay in our boredom and apathy. Let us fall humbly at the Father’s feet, asking the Spirit’s power and guidance to tune our hearts to Him so that we may have a heart that is on fire for His plans.

Kyle Padilla
Minister of Contemporary Worship
Posted by Kyle Padilla with

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