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A Suffering People

Notes & Transcripts

“Eric has been battling brain hemorrhages since 1998 while a student at Boston University. On January 7, 1998, Eric suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and was not expected to live through the night. Through God’s Grace, Eric survived the night. He spent 3 months in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. During that stay, he spent 30 days in the Neurological ICU and had 2 stereotactic radiosurgeries. The doctors stated if he survived he would be a vegetable. On March 26th, Eric was strong enough to fly home to Oklahoma and began extensive outpatient rehab.

Stroke number 2 hit June 1998. In the fall, he enrolled in college classes. In the spring of 2000, Eric moved with his family to Georgia where he continued his education at Atlanta Christian College. In 2001, his family moved from Georgia to Kansas where Eric enrolled at Pittsburg State University. Eric’s 3rd stroke hit while at Pittsburg State. However, God has never let Eric down and he completed his bachelor's degree at Pittsburg State University, May 2002.

After graduation, Eric wanted to get his bachelor's in Bible and Ministry and he enrolled at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO. After Eric completed approximately 45 credit hours at OCC, he endured his 4th and 5th strokes. As a result of these hemorrhages, his mobility was significantly impaired. Eric spent 1 month at St. Luke's and began extensive inpatient rehabilitation. He continued outpatient rehabilitation in Kansas but he was unable to return to classes due to significant short term memory problems.

Eric had another radiation surgery & embolization surgery to help obliterate the Arterio-Venous Malformation or AVM. An AVM by definition is a abnormal collection of blood vessels. In the winter of 2006, Eric’s mobility began to regress again and he was life-flighted in June 2006 to Kansas City. After tests were run, it was discovered he had another large bleed on the brain. His brain surgery was scheduled for the end of June. Finally, the AVM was removed (Praise the Lord!), but there was still a long road ahead of him. Eric spent 4 1/2 months in hospital and went thru multiple shunt surgeries during this stay. After being released from the hospital, he continued outpatient rehabilitation.

In June of 2008, Eric and his parents then moved to beautiful Mena, Arkansas and, once settled in, he continued his outpatient rehabilitation. However, within 6 months he began to regress once again.

Since 1998, he, being held in God’s hands, has survived more than 9 strokes. In December 2008, his already impaired mobility began to get worse. After 3 months of continued regression, brain surgery was scheduled for April 28, 2009. As a Christian, Eric was ready for the surgery & was unafraid of the danger of what may be ahead.”

Since writing of this Eric was able to return home; however, a few weeks ago Eric had another major setback and once again we almost lost him.

As of right now Eric is back home in Arkansas and still running to finish—well!

In Philip Yancey’s book Where Is God When It Hurts there is a story of a migrant farmhand mother.

Someone interpreting for her writes, “Last year we went to a little church in New Jersey…We had all our children there, baby included. The Reverend Jackson was there, I can’t forget his name, and he told us to be quiet, and he told us how glad we should be that we’re in this country, because it’s Christian, and not ‘godless.’

…Then my husband went and lost his temper; something happened to his nerves, I do believe. He got up and started shouting, yes sir. He went up to the Reverend Mr. Jackson and told him to shut up and never speak again—not to us, the migrant people.

Then he lifted the baby Annie up, so she was higher than the reverend, and he said why doesn’t he go and pray for Annie and pray that the growers will be punished for what they’re doing to us, all the migrant people….And then my husband began shouting about God and His neglecting us while He took such good care of the other people all over.

Then he told the reverend he was like all the rest, making money off us, and held our Annie as high as he could, right near the cross, and told God He’d better stop having ministers speaking for Him, and He should come and see us for Himself, and not have the ‘preachers’—he kept calling them the ‘preachers’—speaking for Him.”

I can not speak on the topic of suffering as the Hatcher family can nor as a migrant family that is trying to survive in a new world; perhaps, having to come to the USA because they were refuges in their own home land. Nor can I speak for this young family…

When Bernie May was the head of Wycliffe Bible Translators he visited a young family in a Muslim nation. They had been there three years working with a people group of 100,000 people and no knowledge of Christ. This couple had three children under five years old.

The baby was covered with pox marks, some of which looked infected. He asked if the child had chicken pox. "No, those are ant bites," the mother said. "We can't keep the ants off him. Eventually he will become immune to them."

Bernie May wrote:

In a moment of honesty she confessed she felt guilty because she was suffering from stress. Stress! She and her young husband came there from mid-USA. Now they live in a place where the temperature is above 100 degrees most of the year. The children are covered with bites; a war is going on close by; their helpers are in danger for being their friends; many in the villages are suffering from hunger and disease; they can't even let their supporters know what they are doing so that they can pray for them since they are in a "critical" area—and she feels guilty because she is under stress.

I told her she had every right to feel stressful. I had only been their three days and I was already beginning to come unglued.

Yet this dedicated young couple are laughing and joking and filled with the joy of the Lord. (Letter from Bernie May, Jan. 1990)

No matter what kind of suffering we are going through God knows because of the Incarnation. Christ Jesus came to earth sent by His Father to live and breathe as we do. To experience the things good and bad that we do. Christ knows and Christ cares! I understand that certain places are already putting out their Christmas displays…that God sent his Son to live and suffer as he did helps us in our suffering!!!

PURPOSE…

Today marks three out of five lessons that we are studying from Peter. Our objective in all of these lessons is to be lead to wholesome thinking (2 Peter 3:1).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.” Bonhoeffer, a great theologian who was imprisoned and executed shortly before the Allies liberated Hitler’s death camps, understood very clearly that God does not beg for human approval. Many people question God’s existence or his love on the basis that he would stop pain if he could. But God doesn’t give us a perfect, scientific, logical proof of his existence. Why? God doesn’t need your approval to be God.

“When Christ calls a man,” says Dietrich Bonhoffer, “he bids him come and die.”

Take a walk we me through 1 Peter…and seeing how it relates to suffering

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)

6 So be truly glad.* There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

• In every chapter of 1 Peter, the apostle returns time and again to the topic of suffering by Christians

1 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT)

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

• What is Peter saying here? Could Peter be thinking back too…

Psalm 22:31 (NLT)

31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.

They will hear about everything he has done.

If you would like to see further examples of Christ as the suffering servant see Isaiah 53:7ff.

• In 2:19-21, he reminds us God will commend us when we suffer unjustly and that we should follow in the steps of Jesus who suffered unjustly for our sakes

1 Peter 2:19-21 (NLT)

19 For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered* for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

• What else comes from Peter regarding the topic of suffering by Christians

1 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

• Next Peter writes that it is better to suffer for doing well than for doing evil

1 Peter 3:13-17 (NLT)

Suffering for Doing Good

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.* Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT)

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

1 Peter 4:3 (NLT)

3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

• And in the text we are studying…

1 Peter 4:12 (NLT)

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:19 (NLT)

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

• In 1 Peter 5:8-10 we learn that after we suffer for a little while, God will restore us and make us stronger

1 Peter 5:8-10 (NLT)

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters* all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)

12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

John 15:20 (NLT)

20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.

In the text we are about to read Peter focuses on six ways we can respond or react when we go through suffering and grief in all kinds of trials.

Please stand for the reading of God’s Word…1 Peter 4:12-19 (NLT)

Suffering for Being a Christian

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.* 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,

“If the righteous are barely saved,

what will happen to godless sinners?”*

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

How do we lead a consistent Christian life? How do we live a life that is worthy of the name Christian? And how might suffering lead us to wholesome thinking?

1) v. 12—do not be surprised…

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.

The Hatcher family faithfully takes one day at a time. The migrant farmhand mother felt comforted in the community of migrant workers standing with her husband in church that Sunday. And one of the reasons why that family was able to stand up while living in a “critical area” was because they were prepared—not surprised.

2) v. 13—shared suffering…

13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

Matthew 5:10-12 (NLT)

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you* and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

3) v. 14—Emmanuel…”God with us…”

14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.*

Isaiah 11:2 (NLT)

2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Ephesians 1:17 (NLT)

17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

How do we lead a consistent Christian life? How do we live a life that is worthy of the name Christian? And how might suffering lead us to wholesome thinking?

1) Not being surprised that you are suffering 2) Your suffering identifies you with Christ 3) Believe that God’s Holy Spirit is with you and will help lead you to a consistent Christian life…suffering will help you live up to the honorable name Christian, and also lead you to wholesome thinking.

4) God cares for you

I believe suffering tends to draw us closer to God. Somewhere I read of a big brother’s advice to his little brother that was about to be spanked for something wrong he had done. The older brother said, “When father is spanking you then pull yourself in close to him and it will not hurt so bad.”

• God cares for you

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

5) Suffering of nonbelievers

17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,

“If the righteous are barely saved,

what will happen to godless sinners?”*

Hebrews 10:27 (NLT)

27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.

6) Missions exist…if the following is true…

What will become of the ungodly if the righteous suffer? Peter answers this question in his second letter…

2 Peter 2:4-9 (NLT)

4 For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. 5 And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. 6 Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. 7 But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. 9 So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.

How do we lead a consistent Christian life? How do we live a life that is worthy of the name Christian? And how might suffering lead us to wholesome thinking?

1) do not be surprised that you are suffering

2) we are able to share in the sufferings of Christ

3) when we suffer God’s Spirit is upon us

4) suffering draws us closer to God

5) Unbelievers will suffer…2 Peter 2ff.

6) Missions exist because God is love

Many people over the last 2,000 years have and continue to suffer sometimes in ways unimaginable because Christ first suffered and three days later rose from the dead!

Think of Job in the Old Testament. After his suffering God restored twofold everything he previously had except his children. Job originally had seven children and after all of them passed away; later, God gave Job seven more not fourteen more. Why do you suppose this was? Because seven children is enough? Could it be that God was giving Job and us too a glimpse of eternal life? Seven in heaven while seven were with him yet on earth eagerly awaiting to be reunited with God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and the loved ones in Christ that have gone on before!

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”* And with those words he breathed his last.

Therefore, trust your life in Christ today!

Let’s pray…

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