Anush A. John
The Fulcrum of Pain - Why Suffering?
A Sermon on Suffering
2 Timothy 1:8-14
8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
A. Christian Suffering and Pain.
V 8. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
Acts 22:25 But when they stretched him out with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?”
Matthew 19:29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.
B. Suffering and Shame
v. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.
Luke 9:26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness..
C. Why is there Suffering and Pain?
1. Punishment theodicy
John 12:8 "For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me."
2. Soul-making theodicy
Pain is not only immediately recognizable evil, but evil impossible to ignore. We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. CS Lewis, Problem of pain
I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity to-day, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down.
At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit-by-bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And … for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys:… Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but 48 hours and then only by… taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over - I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless. - CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain
D. Kinds of Suffering and Pain
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
I'm so tired of being here
suppressed by all my childish fears
and if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
your presence still lingers here
and it won't leave me alone
these wounds won't seem to heal
this pain is just too real
there's just too much that time cannot erase
I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along.. - Evanescence, My Immortal, 2003 Fallen
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God…
E. The Gospel and Suffering
What is the gospel?
Romans 3:23 – all have sinned
Romans 6:23 – wages of sin is death
Romans 10:9 – that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me