Thes #6 Suffering
Thessalonians Series #6
2 Thessalonians 1
READ 2 Thessalonians 1
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends,
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends,
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod;
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things;
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured!
-Walter B. Knight
Gives grace & peace
Because we are going to need it because suffering goes with the territory of the growing Christian
1. Maturity and faithfulness doesn't exclude us from Suffering
A. Faithfulness prepares you for suffering
1. when we are faithful to love God through obedience it prepares us or moves us toward suffering
2. Agatha Christie said "if you love, you will suffer, and if you do not love, you do not know the meaning of a Christian life."
3. C.H. Spurgeon - there are no crownwearers in Heaven that were not crossbearers here below"
* Remember 1st that Suffering is an intrusion into this world as a result of the presence of sin in the world
> Without original sin entering our nature, through Adam and Eve, there would be no suffering because God's creation was good and man was very good. But suffering entered the world as a result of sin
> At the Restoration of all things, Rev 21:4 says "every tear will be wiped away, no more death, mourning, because the old order will pass away."
Death will Die, Suffering will Cease
Isaiah 65:17 says that we won't even remember the old things or will they come to mind
According to 1 Cor. 15:26 says that Suffering and Death will be the final enemy to be defeated by Christ
> It has intruded our world and attacks us like an invading army, and will be defeated, but what happens in the meantime?
B. Persecutions And Hardships should be expected v4
1. Faith is flourishing and love is growing and yet they are still suffering
2. Persecutions come because we stand for Christ
a. you can be sure that if you stand up for Christ persecution will come eventually.
b. someone will not be happy
c. someone will be uncomfortable
d. persecution will come
3. Hardships are often just part of life
a. just because you are mature and faithful doesn't mean that hardships don't come
b. God causes the sun and the rain to shine and fall on both the evil and the good
3. Both persecutions and hardships are an opportunity for God to glorify himself through you
a. it is an opportunity for Christ to be lifted up - what happens when he is lifted up?
b. John 12:32 "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to myself."
c. James 4:10 "humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up"
4. Suffering and glory are inseparable in the spiritual realm
a. Romans 8:17-18 "now if we are children, the we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us"
b. 2 Cor. 4:15-18 "that the grace reaching more and more might overflow to glory 16 there fore we do not lose heart … 17 for our light and momentary troubles are achieving an eternal glory that outweighs … 18 fix your eyes not on see but unseen … eternal"
c. 2 Peter 4:13-14 "rejoice that you participate in suffering that you may be overjoyed when glory is revealed if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on you."
Wesley's Expectation Of Persecution
John Wesley was riding along a road one day when it dawned on him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days.
Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and exclaimed, "Can it be that I have sinned, and am backslidden?"
Slipping from his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and began interceding with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault.
A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. "I'll fix that Methodist preacher," he said, picking up a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark, and fell harmlessly beside John. Whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet joyfully exclaiming, "Thank God, it's all right. I still have His presence."
2. Suffering Makes you worthy of the Call
A. Suffering is The Refiner's fire
1. Worthy to bare the same stripes that Christ bore
2. Suffering makes you "worthy for the Kingdom"
a. worthy = FIT
b. doesn't mean - merit or earning, but rather in shape or fit for the Kingdom
c. suffering knocks off those extra "spiritual pounds" so you are in shape or fit for the Kingdom
d. God is putting you through your paces
3. Ps 66:10 "You, O God, tested us, you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."
4. many a "wanna be" athlete has complained of the exercise, drills, and suffering that comes with training. But the true athlete welcomes the difficulty, the struggle, and strife because they produce the ability to be a Victor, a Conqueror
B. Suffering is a Gift from God
1. Philippians 1:29 "it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him"
2. Thank him for the privilege of being counted worthy to share in Christ's suffering
3. You can't know him in the Power of his Resurrection without knowing him in his suffering and death -
Phil 3:10 - "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
a. you must die to know resurrection
b. we want the power but we don't want the suffering that produces it
C. Through it, God shows his justice
1. God's justice requires the refining of suffering to enter his blessings for a job well done
2. His justice will also take care of those who persecute us
3. They are set for everlasting destruction v9 and we for everlasting joy in his presence so we need not worry about any temporary suffering and persecution
4. Rest will come but is only promised when Jesus comes
a. God will pay back trouble to the persecutor relief will come for us
b. the only relief from suffering promised to all of us as believers is coming in the Future coming in Glory in God's revelation and redemption and restoration in heaven
c. it is also a promise that suffering IS temporary
5. Rest for US, Paul was not writing safely outside the realm of persecution and suffering, no, he wrote as a fellow sufferer and one under equal or greater persecution
a. I guess Paul had some refining to still go through as well huh?
b. In 2 Cor 12 we discover that Paul had a "thorn in the flesh" a "messenger of Satan" given to him, allowed in his life by God. Why? Wasn't Paul "fit" "Worthy" for the Kingdom?
c. Well it says so that he would NOT become to proud or conceited because of the great revelation that God had given him.
d. Paul's BIG HEAD wouldn't have fit through the gates of Heaven if God had not allowed him to suffer.
So, with all of this in mind what should our mindset be?
Perhaps, . . .
3. Bring It On
A. Trust God to Avenge You
1. Romans 12:17 says "do not repay evil for evil, be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone."
2. it is better to DO right than to BE right
3. do not take revenge, leave room for God's wrath
Romans 12:20 - "if your enemy is hungry feed him, if he is thirsty give him drink, in doing this you will heap burning coals" - NOT the burning coals of frustration, or the coals of judgment, But the Coals of Repentance.
V 21 "do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good"
Paul was praying for them to be made worthy and that only comes through suffering so Paul was saying "I'm praying for you to suffer" 'I'm praying for you to be refined by fire"
B. How do we react to Suffering?
1. 1 Cor. 4:12,13 we work hard … when we are cursed we bless, when we are persecuted, we endure it, when we are slandered we answer kindly … we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world 16 I urge you to imitate me … 18 some of you are arrogant"
* sounds like they were NOT fit and needed to imitate Paul in suffering so they could be made "fit for the Kingdom"
2. Keep suffering, keep serving, keep praying and God can and will make it come out right
- Paul prayed that their good intentions would be fulfilled or completed as you intended but more importantly as God intended as we are faithful
- every good and perfect thought or idea is from God so he will fulfill it
3. Hold the suffering up to the light of our future rest and glory -
Romans 8:18 - I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us
2 Cor 4:16-18 … do not lose heart, outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day … our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all … fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen … seen is temporary … unseen is eternal
4. hold on to God's hand even when you can't see down the road - squeeze tightly - the discomfort brings sight to your spiritual eyes - If I squeeze his hand, I place my focus on his hand and not on the discomfort. I don't flinch in the face of suffering
Psalm 73:21-23 when my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand
5. Ask God for understanding and/or grace and peace if it is beyond your understanding
6. Trust God
7. Keep your eyes on the Finish line
8. Grow your roots deeper in Knowledge and Relationship to Christ
>Purpose of Suffering
1. That they may honor Jesus because of you
2. In the process you can trust God to honor you as well
3. All is possible because of the unmerited favor of Jesus Christ
4. A person's "name" in their culture was more than something that you called them it was who they are
As you honor Christ through your faithfulness through suffering, you make his name complete, you fill out the understanding and definition of Christ's name
It is difficult for the Clay to understand the work of the Potter,
> The Teacup and The Potter
There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in a beautiful
antique store. This trip was to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked "May we see that?
We've never seen a cup quite so beautiful."
As the lady handed it to them suddenly the tea cup spoke, "You don't
understand." It said, "I have not always been a tea cup. There was a
time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, 'Don't do that. I
don't like it! Let me alone,' but he only smiled, and gently said, 'Not
"Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun
around and around and around. 'Stop it! I'm getting so dizzy! I'm going
to be sick!,' I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly,
'Not yet.' He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to
suit himself and then..... Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat.
I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. 'Help! Get me out of here!' I could see him through the opening and I could read his
lips as he shook his head from side to side, 'Not yet.' When I thought
I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took
me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so
good! 'Ah, this is much better,' I thought."
"But after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all
over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. 'Oh, please stop
it, Stop it!!' I cried. He only shook his head and said. 'Not yet!'"
"Then suddenly he put me back into the oven. Only it was not like the
first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I
begged. I pleaded. I screamed I cried. I was convinced I would never
make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took
me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited ------- and waited, wondering what's he going to do to me next?"
"An hour later he handed me a mirror and said 'Look at yourself.' And I
did. I said, 'That's not me; that couldn't be me. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful!'"
"Quietly he spoke: 'I want you to remember.' Then he said,
'I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left
you alone, you'd have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around
on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled'. I know it
hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put
you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I
brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never
would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I
hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for
long because the hardness would not have held.
Now you are a finished
product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'"
The moral of the story is this:
God knows what He's doing [for each of us]. He is the potter, and we are
His clay. He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just enough
pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless
piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
So when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed
almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of
control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when
life seems to "stink", try this.... Brew a cup of your favorite tea in
your prettiest tea cup, sit down and think on this story and then, have
a little talk with the Potter.
God's People have always known suffering
God Never uses a man greatly until he hurts him deeply - A. W. Tozar
>Noah knew the suffering of 120 years of work and fruitless preaching so that he might obey God and save his family
>Abram and Sarah knew the suffering of wandering and a childless adult life that they might give birth to the amazing child of promise and live in the land of promise
>Moses knew the suffering of exile and desert wandering that he might feel the plight of his people and be used by God to lead them to freedom
>David knew the suffering of unjust attack and hatred at the hand of Saul that he might know the blessing and protection of being God's Anointed
>Hannah knew the suffering and shame of being without a child that she might know God as her provision and give her child of promise to God that Samuel might become the voice of God to the nation and her first kings
>Daniel knew the suffering of kidnapping, lies, personal attack, threat of death, they he might be a light to the world or the Wonders of God and lead Kings and nations to Christ and might be God's voice of prophesy
>Mary knew the suffering and shame of a pregnancy without a husband that she might be the carrier of the Prince of Peace, Immanuel, God with us.
>Paul knew the suffering of physical limitations, insults, prison, beatings, stoning, death threats, assassination attempts, and a death sentence, that he might be the revealer of the mysteries of God's wondrous grace to every generation of man
>Jesus knew the sufferings of leaving heaven's glory, angels' praises, a Father's presence, being emptied of his rights, being rejected, despised, loved one day hated the next, bruised for our transgressions, slain for our sin, that by his suffering we might have salvation, that in his persecution we might find justification before God
Grace and Peace to You as you will Suffer
But turn your face to the Master
Submit to the Potter's Hand
He is just making you fit for the Kingdom, Worthy of the Call, Worthy of his name that you bear, so that as you Share in his Suffering and Death, you will also share in the Power of His Resurrection
God is In Charge - 1 Cor 10:13
Do you Know Him Today?