Dark Threads the Weaver Needs
I pick our title from a book that I have; which touches upon the issue of suffering. Herbert Lockyer became well known in Christian circles when he wrote the “ALL series” volumes. I have a few of them, which cover all the men of the bible, all the promises of the bible, all the messianic prophecies of the bible; and so on. They are a very exhaustive search throughout the bible turning over every stone of scripture; for the certain themes.
But there was a time when he picked up his pen to write a different book; a book about the dark threads that God uses to weave into our lives; the dark threads of suffering. He could speak of suffering first hand, for it was at a time that he beheld the slow passing of his dearly beloved wife.
He writes in his preface that as a little boy he used to sit underneath the shadow of this mother’s needle work. And from that point of view all he saw was a mass confusion of differently colored threads all jumbled together without the slightest hint of order or reason. As a little boy he wondered, what kind of desirable design could come from such a disorderly mess? And one day he asked his mother to show him the top side of her needle work, it surprised him he said. It was the most beautiful thing that he has ever seen as a boy; so beautiful that at the age of 82 he writes about it in this book to set the tone for his theme.
That’s the way suffering is to us, he said. We are like little children starring up into what seems to be a mess of disorganized colors and form. Starring up into the work that God is weaving out of our lives. And because of such a work, there are times which God uses dark threads in our lives.
Maybe this point of view will help you about suffering in your life. You and I can only see one side of our lives at a time and it happens to be the side that looks all to be in a mess. And to top it off; God uses the dark threads of suffering for some purpose that is only known to him at the time.
Suffering is the age old question that has always puzzled the people of God of every age. The skeptics and critics of the faith have always used this issue as their “ace in the hole” to refute the idea of a loving and caring God. They say, “If there is a God then why does he allow evil and suffering to continue on in this world?” “If he really loves mankind then why doesn’t God do away with all suffering?”
And if there is any issue which we are more likely to lose our objectivity about; it certainly is the topic of suffering. Why, because suffering touches us all! A great preacher of the 19th century was telling his class of young preachers on how to gain the peoples’ attention. He said, “Young men, always preach to the suffering and broken hearted in your churches and you shall never lack an audience.” He’s right isn’t he? We all know what it is to suffer and we have all suffered at one time in our lives or another. Whether it was physical, mental, financial, whether in was obvious to those around us or it was hidden to them; we are no strangers to it.
And because we have all been touched at one time or another, we have all formed some sort of rational for suffering. Whether we realize it or not we have a fixed idea in our heads about suffering. And it is when our circumstances contradict our rational (our preconceived notions) is when we become frustrated and confused and lost when it comes to suffering. We might even find ourselves asking the same questions of our skeptics.
I don’t think I have to tell you that the topic of suffering runs all through the bible. Suffering is no respecter of persons. The wicked suffer for their sins just as much as the godly suffer and reap the consequences from their actions. Though Suffering is universal to all humans, we can maintain our objectivity while we pass though suffering.
Remember what we said Objectivity was; the ability to step back from a situation and take in the bigger picture. Not get so close or engrossed in the problem that we can’t see our way out. To step back and see what God is trying to do with this problem and with our lives. There are many cases of suffering in the bible that we could notice but for the sake of time I want us too see three thoughts about suffering that we must remind ourselves so as too remain objective.
I. Suffering is not always due because of Sin.
A. The case with Job.
We saw some of Job’s case last time, so we will only hit the high points that I believe affect us. You will remember what happened to Job. In one day he lost it all! He lost his family, his wealth, and then he lost his health. And the amazing thing about him was the way he acted to all this tragedy, Job 1:20 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
V21 “And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. What a testimony! Job believed that God was in control of all things, even the bad things that come to us in life. Job worshiped God! His worship revealed his trust, as true worship always does. All these things seemed not to shake him for a time, until his three so-called friends came to comfort him. Basically put, his three friends came not to comfort him, but to condemn him. They pulled reasons and arguments from every area of life. They wanted Job to accept the idea that only the guilty suffer; that only the wicked have problems in this life and the saved or righteous never have any such problems.
Let’s notice there reasoning: Job 4:7; Job 20:5; Job 21:17; Job 21:30. They think that Job must be wicked because in their thinking only the wicked, hypocrites, fakes suffer. Their problem was that they were basing their reasoning on faulty sources. They didn’t know that in the heavens, it was really the devil that had a bone to pick with Job, not God. They were blaming all that the devil was doing on God! These folks are still around today, they blame everything hurtful and devastating on God which is really the work of Satan. They believe in God enough to blame all the world’s problems on him, but will not accept that there is a devil who works to overthrow the faith and lives of Christians. Who loves to cast doubt on God’s name and word. These friends learned from God himself, that Job was more righteous than they really were, and that all his sufferings were not because of sin.
B. Case in John 9; 1-7 Man born blind
It was a common belief that a man suffered because of sin, either his own sin or his parents’ sin. The disciples were attracted to the man and wondered about him. Was he suffering because of some great sin committed by his parents, or because God had foreseen that the man would be a great sinner before he was born? Jesus said that the man’s suffering was not due to sin, but that he suffered so that the works of God could be demonstrated in his life. Man sometimes suffers not because of sin but because God will get more glory out of their life than when they are healthy. God can have the
opportunity to show his power and his compassion and love towards us. Listen if we were never in situations where we need God, we wouldn’t feel our need for God. And that is what the Lord is teaching us probably half the time; is that we need him if we realize it or not.
C. Case with Lazarus, John 11; 4
Jn. 11:4 “When Jesus heard that, he said, this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby”. The first purpose of Lazarus’ sickness was to glorify God and to proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. Lazarus’ sickness was not for death. He was to die for the glory of God and Christ. He was sick, and he was to die so that the works of God could be demonstrated.
Now, I think it is obvious also that we can suffer for our own mistakes and certainly sins too. If we eat the wrong things for too long, they will cause health problems. If a person drinks and does drugs they will eventually take their toll upon the body and the person will suffer. So we when do suffer we need to rule out sin if we can. Lord, I’m suffering from my own problems that I brought upon myself or am I suffering for your Glory?
Suffering is the way that the Glory of God is shown in our lives to others. Don’t lose your objectivity, suffering my not be because of sin, but for God’s glory.
II. What suffering does? 2 Cor.1; 1-4
God comforts the sufferer so that he might be a testimony to other sufferers. The word “tribulation” (“thlipsei” PWS: 4052) means to be weighed down exceedingly; to be pressed and crushed. It is the picture of a beast of burden being crushed beneath a
load that is just too heavy. It is the picture of a person having a heavy weight placed on his breast and being pressed and crushed to the point that he feels he is going to die. I.e. God’s purpose in comforting us is to make us a testimony to others. God comforts us so that we can comfort others who are suffering. God carries us through trials so that we can carry others through trials. God strengthens us so that we can strengthen others. God helps us so that we can help others. God encourages us so that we can encourage others. The bottom line is, that if we don’t suffer we can’t be comforted and if we can’t be comforted then we have nothing to offer others.
So the very thing that you are suffering though just might be for someone else; whether they know it or not they need your example under suffering for themselves. So what does suffering do for us in the boarder sense? If we can get our eyes off of ourselves and our problems then we will have an excellent chance to minister to others.
III. Suffering helps us relate better to our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Phi 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;”
Suffering may come because of the highest possible reason; which is that it helps you and I relate better to Jesus. There is no doubt that he suffered. Heb 13:12 “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate”.
Heb 13:13 “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”
Heb 2:9 “ But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Heb 5:8 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;”
Jesus suffered the things we suffer under because he needed to relate to us as our high priest. Likewise, we suffer that we might be enabled to comprehend what he went through for us. Suffering looked at this way doesn’t separate us from Jesus but draws us closer! That’s where we need to be always;
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.
Closing: Suffering does more than afflict our bodies it affects our thinking too. That’s why we must always maintain our objectivity in suffering; or we will miss what the Lord is trying to do in us so he can work through us.
1. All suffering is not necessary because of sin in our lives. Sometimes it is, but not all the time.
2. Suffering gives us a chance to be comforted so we then can turn around and minister to others under the suffering. You might be missing a chance to really help someone.
3. Suffering brings us into a closer relationship with our Saviour. Hopefully, as we suffer like he did our love and appreciation will grow for him; for we know first hand what he has been though for our sakes.