Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #8: Fairness

blog.001

The Bible is very specific: this is not heaven, it is not a perfect world. There are things that are unfair. There is injustice. This is not the way God designed it or wanted it. It was created perfect. But, because of sin, the world is now an imperfect, broken place until Christ returns and redeems it.

If you ever want to do any in depth study on this subject, you need to go study the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon had achieved wisdom and riches and many of the things we spend our life trying to achieve. He takes a step back and looks at everything in life. And he’s left wanting, He even calls it meaningless. Throughout that journey he gives five little snapshots of life that show typical, common occurrences of unfairness in the world. 


Life Is Unfair

First, he’s noticed that criminals go unpunished.

“Throughout the earth, justice is giving way to crime and even the courts are corrupt.”  Ecclesiastes 3:16 TLB

“When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.” Ecclesiastes 8:11 NLT

This could not be any more relevant than it is today. Given enough money, you can beat any inditement today,  all you have to do is hire the right attorney and they’ll find some technicality to get you off the charge. Solomon sees that criminals go unpunished while victims and their families suffer.

He also notices the oppressed are unhelped in the world.

“Then I looked again at all the injustice that goes on in this world. The oppressed were crying, and no one would help them. No one would help them, because their oppressors had power on their side.” Ecclesiastes 4:1 GNT

History is a record of the fact that it is human nature for human beings to try to dominate each other. You can see it throughout the history of the world. The powerful try to dominate the weak.

Even today, the wars we see in our society are basically wars of oppression. Many of these oppressed martyrs in the world are Christians. In certain places you can be killed for claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Solomon observes that nobody seems to be helping these people.

Then he says, exhibit number three: politicians are unethicalIllegal fund raising, cover ups, scandals, lying about your opponent… it’s nothing new.

If you see… miscarriage of justice anywhere throughout the land, don’t be surprised! For every official is under orders from higher up, and the higher officials look up to their superiors. And so the matter is lost in red tape and bureaucracy. Ecclesiastes 5:8 TLB

“There is another evil I have seen under the sun. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth.” Ecclesiastes 10:5-6 NLT

To be clear, there are some godly, political leaders. However, often times we look at the elections we have at the local, state and federal level and think, surely there’s got to be more choices than this…

We’re giving great authority to foolish people. The Bible says when ungodly people hold positions of authority they are going to abuse it and Solomon says that’s unfair.

Exhibit number four, good people go unrewarded while evil people often prosper.

“There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 8:14 NIV

Does it ever bother you that dishonest people get promoted while honest people are overlooked?  Have you ever been to a funeral of a good person, a young person and think, “Why did they die?” 

“Some of the good die young and some of the wicked live on and on.” Ecclesiastes 7:15

Another thing he notices is that capable people are often unsuccessfulJust because you’ve got talent doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed. The good guys don’t always win in this world. 

“The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 NLT

We all know bright, educated, hard working people who barely get by financially. Yet we know about these bums who inherit millions and then aren’t even grateful for it. In our society, the biggest salaries don’t go to the smartest people. In our culture we pay unnecessary professions more than we pay teachers who train our kids.

Solomon says, the bottom line is life isn’t fair. Capable men and women don’t always rise to high positions. People sometimes don’t get promoted because of the color of their skin or their gender or their belief in Jesus Christ and that’s unfair and it’s wrong.

We all ask, why God doesn’t do something about the injustice in this world? The Bible says that there is injustice in the world, for a time, for some reasons.


Why Doesn’t God Do Something About Injustice?

1. Because God gives us the freedom to choose

In the very first chapters of the Bible we have the story of creation. God creates man in His own image. That means you, as a human being, are different from the animals. God gave you a spirit which gives you the ability to have a relationship with God.

Another way you’re made in God’s image is you have the freedom to make moral choices. You can choose between right and wrong. Animals cannot do that. Animals can choose only by instinct, between survival and death. They cannot choose morally between what’s right and what’s wrong.

“’I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!’” Deuteronomy 11:26 NLT

That’s the good news. The bad news is there are consequences to our choices, and we often make selfish choices. When we do that, innocent people get hurt and that’s unfair. 

There is an assumption with God. We think that in order for God to be good, he must never allow evil. But there’s fallout from that way of thinking:

  1. God would create nothing.
  2. God would create beings with no possibility for moral free will.

In order for God to create beings capable of love, He must also create a world where evil and suffering can exist. He could create a universe with no pain. But you know what else it would be without – mercy, love, compassion, true peace, significance, forgiveness, happiness.

God is putting a group of people together who choose to love Him, not are forced to love Him. You can’t say you love somebody unless you have the choice to not love him or her. You can’t say you are honest until you’ve had the opportunity to be dishonest.

There is injustice when we choose to not do the godly thing. It’s not on God. If we get drunk and get in my car and take the life of another driver, is that God’s fault? No. It’s our fault. God didn’t plan that. It’s the result of an evil choice that we made. 

2. Because God will settle accounts one day

God will do something about injustice. People may not get their justice here on earth, but they will one day. The Bible tells us in the book of Isaiah that God is a God of justice. If we didn’t believe that we would be in absolute despair.

The truth is today, evil people get away with evil things all the time. It would be a travesty if evil dictators who have killed millions just get away with it with no punishment. That is unthinkable. God tells us He is going to be a God of justice. 

“In due season God will judge everything man does, both good and bad.” Ecclesiastes 3:17 TLB

“In due season…” Today is not the end of the story. The final chapter has not been written. The scales of justice have not been weighed. One day there is going to be a judgment day where one day we personally stand before God and give an account of our lives including the good, the bad, and whether we trusted His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior or not. Are we covered by the judgement poured out on Christ, or do we take that on ourselves?

3. Because injustice shows why we need a savior

Injustice shows what we’re really like on the inside. There is a very popular idea going around today that makes us think human beings are basically good its just environment that makes us do bad things.

Anybody who’s had children knows that we are born with a selfish nature. But we want to all think we’re basically good. We’ll admit we have some weaknesses, faults, areas we need to work on, rough edges, and personality quirks. But, we don’t want to call it what it is — sin. 

“God is letting the world go on its sinful way so that he can test mankind, and so that men themselves will see that they are no better than beasts.” Ecclesiastes 3:18 TLB

Human beings without God tend to start acting like animals. We hear the shocking stories of gang rape, abuse, senseless acts of violence in society against innocent people who have no reason to be hurt. There is no way to explain the horrific acts of violence and terror that have happened in our world if we believe human beings are inherently good.

One day when we stand before God and He’s looking at your life, you’re not going to want justice. You’re going to want mercy. Thank God He gives us an opportunity to be saved. None of us have a chance of getting into heaven on our own. Heaven is perfect and alive. We are imperfect and dead. Without the work of the cross, we don’t get into that perfect place.

4. Because how we handle injustice can build character

Not everything bad in life is ultimately bad for you. 

Pain is not without purpose.

It can build character. The Bible tells us many times, suffering produces character. However, suffering does not automatically produce character. It only produces character when you choose to respond to it in the right way. 

A lot of people who’ve suffered a tremendous amount have no Christlike character at all.  Rather, they’re bitter and cynical. Maybe you’ve gone through some things and wondered why God let it happen to you. You feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand and it just isn’t fair. Everybody has their own story of unfairness, how does God say we can grow our character through those things?


Responding to Unfairness & Injustice

1. Accept it gracefully

Accept injustice with God’s grace in mind. Don’t be surprised when people treat you unfairly. Jesus told us it would happen. 

“‘My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.'” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NCV

You can’t choose whether or not you’ll be hurt in this life. But you can choose your response.

We try to accept it gracefully, rather than becoming bitter. You can’t become like Christ if you don’t have anything in common with him. Use it as an opportunity to have more in common with Christ.

2. Respond lovingly

Respond to the offender lovingly. When somebody hurts you, they expect you to retaliate and fight back. Jesus said it like this in Matthew 5:44 NCV,

“Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.”

Why do you do that? Because it keeps them from controlling you. Great American scientist Booker T. Washington has an amazing quote. As a black man years ago, he went through many injustices and unfairnesses of life. 

“I will never allow another man to control my life by allowing him to make me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington

We don’t have to hate.  That’s a choice. We can’t control the unfairness that happens to us, but we can choose to be a better person, not a bitter person. We don’t let others control our emotions, so we choose to respond in a loving way. 

When you respond to an offender lovingly, that does not mean you continue to allow injustice.  On the contrary, we are to lovingly seek justice. We are to work for justice in the world without retaliating, without getting revenge, without seeking to get even and without seeking to hurt the people that have hurt us.

We will return love to the very people who have done evil to us. That’s what it means to be like Jesus Christ. As Christians we have to fight for justice. We are to be more concerned about justice for others than for ourselves.

“Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right!  Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors.” Jeremiah 22:3 NLT

3. Wait for God’s help expectantly

When you are going through an unjust period, God is on your side. All through scripture, God has a special heart for people who are treated unfairly. He is a God of justice.

“A person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and stands the pain, God is pleased.” 1 Peter 2:19 NCV

God hears your cry and He sees your pain and He knows you didn’t get what you thought you deserved. But He has a plan. You can develop a beautiful picture with the light of God’s love in your life.

So what does God want me to do while I’m waiting for him?

“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.” 1 Peter 4:19 NLT

You’re never going to get an explanation for a lot of things that have happened in your life that you feel are unfair — at least not in this life. When we get to Heaven and everything is made right, we will understand better. 

But even then, God does not owe us an explanation. The good news is, we don’t need an explanation to get on with life. All we need to know is God loves us. God is faithful. He will reward you if you have a right response to the unfairness of life and you continue to be fair no matter what anybody else does.

“These little troubles… are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 PH


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about moral purity. How is your path back to purity going? Have you made any adjustments to your life to have a pure mind and life?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

When everybody else is living for themselves, why should we live any differently? Practicing fairness is foundational to building values into our lives that last. But as we try to be fair, we notice all the injustice in the world. Criminals go unpunished. The oppressed are unhelped. Politicians are unethical. Good people go unrewarded. Capable people are unsuccessful.

We all ask this question at some point in our lives… Why doesn’t God do something about the unfairness and injustice in the world? Is He helpless? Does He not care? Is He unconcerned? No. The Bible says that God allows injustice in the world, for now, for a reason. One, Because God gives us the freedom to choose. Two, because God will settle accounts one day. Three, because injustice shows why we need a savior. Four, because how we handle injustice can build character.

How can we respond to unfairness and injustice? One, accept it gracefully. Two, respond lovingly. Three, wait for God’s help expectantly.

A person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and stands the pain, God is pleased. 1 Peter 2:19 NCV

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. 1 Peter 4:19 NLT

Application

  1. In what ways has God grown your character through an injustice you experienced?
  2. How can God use the pain from your past to help other people?
  3. When have you seen someone respond lovingly in the face of injustice?                                              What impression did it make on you?
  4. What injustices do you wish you had an explanation for?                                                                      How do you feel an explanation would help you?

Tell Someone Else

Prayerfully consider who you could share this message with. You could have a conversation with them around the topic using some questions from these Talk It Over Notes, or you could send them a link to message through rockbrook.org/sermons, the podcast or Rock Brook App.

For Mobile Wallpaper

 

More Than Conquerors :: Conquering Despair

blog mtc.001

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35, 37-39

Below are six things that can lead us to feel hopeless and overcome by circumstances. Make a mental checklist of the things below you have experienced in your life.

  1. Traumatic Event
  2. Strained Relatoinship
  3. Serious Health Problems
  4. Crushing Disappointment
  5. Unchangeable Circumstance
  6. Painful Loss

Some people will face these things and be tanked by them and others are able to rise again. These perseverant, resilient people are still standing no matter what has happened.

Resilience and perseverance are a set of skills that can be learned. That means that we can all learn perseverance. When we live with perseverance, we bounce back and aren’t buried by life and by loss. We not only survive, but thrive. We live a hope-infused life, not a hopeless life.

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Romans 5:3

This process is within the reach of every one of us to develop perseverance, character and hope.

The most hope-infused people are not those who haven’t been through anything. The most hope-infused people are those who have suffered and let this process work in their life.

Here are three things to consider about perseverance, resilience and endurance.

1. Life is harder than we ever expected.

We somehow have it in our heads that life is supposed to be easy or comfortable. That it’s supposed to be stress-free and pain-free. Then when the wheels fall off the bus in our life, we are shocked. From that shocked place, we become angry and from that angry place, we end up with confusion and disillusionment as though life was supposed to be easy and life was supposed to be relatively painless. When life isn’t easy, we don’t know what to do.

Jesus says: “In this world, you will have trouble.”  John 16:33

He doesn’t say some people are going to have some hard times. You are going to have problems. Sometimes people find life so hard, so overwhelming and so debilitating that they end up taking their lives.

Almost a million people in the next year will take their own life around the world, 44,000 people in the United States. It’s the number two cause of death for people between 10 and 34 years old in the United States. People who die by taking their own lives, are not wanting to die. Most of the time it’s just because things have gotten so hard that they can’t see a way out. They can’t see any other way for the pain to stop. 

The Bible is so real about this too. Job, this man who lost his family, his home, his crops, his livelihood, was covered with boils on his body from head to toe in terrible pain. He talks about being at that place of just not wanting to live.

“My days have passed; my plans have failed; my hope is gone. But my friends say night is daylight; they say that light is near, but I know I remain in darkness. My only hope is the world of the dead, where I will lie down to sleep in the dark.”  Job 17:11-13 GNT

That’s a man in despair. The first way to rebuild hope in your life, is to accept that life is harder than you ever thought it was going to be. Start setting more realistic expectations for your life.

2. God gives us resources to cope with life.

God is so good to us that he gives us resources to be able to cope with the fact that life is harder than we thought it was going to be.

He gives a Savior because that is what we need more than anything else.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NIV

Take heart, be encouraged. You don’t have to overcome the world, carry the weight of the world or solve every problem. You can’t, but someone can. Someone has carried the weight of the world, his name is Jesus.

God has also given to us a new mind to cope with life. A mind that aligns with His. We can begin to think like God. Over time, we develop and transform.

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death, but letting the spirit control your mind leads to life in peace.”  Romans 8:6 NLT

Before we accept Jesus as our Savior, our minds are a scary place. The Bible says that the longer we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, the more he can transform our minds.

The third thing that God has given to help us cope with the difficulties of life is God’s Word. He’s given us the Bible as a roadmap to navigate life’s troubles.

“By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.”  Psalm 119:105 MSG

Sometimes the path in front of us looks so dark. The Bible is a light to our path and we can see where we’re supposed to go. When you read, study, memorize, meditate on the Bible, over time, you are transformed.

3. We get to choose our responses in life.

From the list of 6 things above, you probably didn’t have a lot of control over some of those things. You do get to choose your response though. It’s freeing to know you are not held captive to a disease, disappointment, disillusionment, depression or even death.

You are not held captive by what has happened to you. Take a look at some of the choices that can give you hope again. These choices will help you build perseverance, character and hope.

  • Choose to expand your connections

When hope starts to fade and we start going through those really hard moments, there’s a natural tendency in all of us to withdraw. The moment we want to isolate or disengage, from family, friends, small group and church, hope is fading. We must choose, in those moments, to press in to community, to relationships, to those people who are there for you, who love you and care about you.

“A friend is always a friend and relatives are born to share our troubles.”  Proverbs 17:17 CEV

  • Choose to believe that, in Christ, you are capable of handling anything

Last week’s post was about how you are in Christ, and you can take off the label of unqualified or weak and put on the label “capable.”

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

  • Choose to avoid expecting the worst.

When you take a simple event in your life and go to the worst possible outcome. When you’ve already written the scenario, you’ve already written the bad scene in your head.

“Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”  Psalm 94:19 TLB

  • Choose to protect your heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23

Persevering people have come to understand that waves of hard times can eventually warp your perspective. They have learned how to take care of themselves in the middle of the hard times. People with perseverance are careful about their inner life.

“Do not give the devil a foothold.”   Ephesians 4:27

When the devil establishes a foothold in your life, he doesn’t try to take over your whole life, he starts by getting one little area of your life at a time. The more you depend on Jesus the more you know what it means to really live.

The way Satan gets a foothold in our life is through any negative emotion. Jealousy, envy, fear, resentment, lust, anger or boredom can all be a foothold. When you mix several of these heart conditions together they’re very potent. When you’re tired, frustrated, hurt and lonely, that combination is setting you up for a fall.

  • Choose to discover a truth about yourself.

In the middle of this mess you’re experiencing, it’s likely that there are some things about yourself that are hidden. Things that would be really important for you to learn.

One of the benefits of trouble, is that it exposes where we’re weaker than we thought we were. It exposes the holes and the gaps in our faith. 

Is there a part of the way you deal with conflict, is there something about the way that you relate to other people you need to work on? Trouble has the way of helping us if we will seek self-discovery. We can choose to learn and get better from it.

“We can also learn from insults and hard knocks.”  Lamentations 3:30

  • Choose to practice gratitude

If you’re going to be someone who turns suffering into hope, you need to practice gratitude. Not necessarily thankful for the wound itself, but when we think about Jesus and we think about what He did for us on the cross we know without His suffering we wouldn’t have salvation.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:7 NLT

  • Decide today that nothing can destroy you.

You can make a decision that you will not let anything destroy you. No matter what comes your way, you don’t have to let them destroy you.

This problem, this pain, this agony is not going to win. If you are going to be a person of perseverance and character, rebuilding hope again, you too will have to make even if it’s a feeble declaration, a declaration that says, “No matter what comes, God will get me through it and in Christ I will not let it destroy me.”

“I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.”  Psalm 118:17 NLT


“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35, 37-39 NIV

Satan’s ultimate goal is to separate us from God. You have a relationship with God, you trust Him, you believe in Him, but then there trouble comes that causes you to take a step back from God. If that is your response to trouble or pain and it stays your response, then the enemy has won. 

God’s Word says that you are a conqueror when you say, “Yes this hurts, yes this has taken me down time and again, but I will not be separated from the love of God that I have through Jesus Christ.” That makes you a conqueror.

But Paul says, “We are MORE than conquerors”

To become MORE than a conqueror is to take the very thing that was meant to destroy you and separate you from God and make it serve you. 

The hard times that we go through are meant to make us more like Christ. Hold on. Yes you can, through the power of Jesus Christ.

You can still stand.

You’re still here.

You will not die.

You will live to tell what the Lord has done.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on 1 Peter 2:9-10, Conquering Labels?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read Romans 8 

In Romans 8, Paul lists several things that threaten to separate us from the love of God. The good news is that in Christ, we can be more than conquerors over those things.

Life is harder than we ever expected, but we can build resilience and find hope again when we rely on God’s resources and realize we have a choice in how we respond to life. Scripture tells us that in this world we will have trouble. but nothing can separate us from the love of God. By expanding our connections, believing we are capable through Christ rather than expecting the worst, protecting your heart and practicing gratitude, resilience is within our reach. Whether we experience traumatic events, strained relationships, serious health problems, crushing disappointments, unchangeable circumstances or painful losses, we can not only survive but also learn to thrive through Christ, who gives us strength and hope as we are transformed into his image.

Application

  1. Ice Breaker: Name things in life that often warm the heart or bring a smile to one’s face even when life gets tough.
  2. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly and is a skill to be developed. Why would this ability be important in this world and in what ways can it be established?
  3. What are some disadvantages of being isolated during a difficult time, instead of sharing your problems with someone else?
  4. Share how you became resilient and found hope during a time when suffering shook your confidence in Christ, and you didn’t felt like following God anymore.
  5. Psalm 119:105 tells us God’s word is like throwing “a beam of light on my dark path.” Share a time when a Bible verse gave you wisdom, hope, or insight to a dark problem in your life.
  6. How could deciding that nothing can destroy you change the outcome of an overwhelming circumstance?
  7. How could focusing on the promise of heaven change our daily perspective?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message? What scars do you carry that could give someone life and hope?

Pray: Father, you hear the cry of our hearts whenever we suffer and your heart hurts when we hurt. When life is hard, help us to keep our eyes on you. Holy Spirit, in every difficulty we face, teach us how to be resilient and find hope by relying on your resources. Lord, help us find power in our choices to respond to whatever life challenges we face. Above all, strengthen us when Satan attempts to destroy our faith and assault our confidence in you. Today, we say “no” to doubt and despair. Each day, we choose to conquer evil by declaring we will not let suffering cause us to turn away from you. Thank you, Jesus our Savior, that each scar in our life blends in with the scars you bore for us, and how our sufferings cause us to be transformed into the beauty of your image.

For Mobile Wallpaper

Not So Far-Fetched: Is God Good?

Blog nsff.001

No matter who you are, everyone experiences difficulty. The degree of life’s severity differs from person to person. Right now, many people around the world are experiencing heartbreaking realities. In every season of our lives, in every place of our existence, there is this tension. The tension around our pain asks, “Is God good?”

Before we go any further, you need to know that this message may not be for everyone in this moment. If you’re right in the middle of personal pain, a post on good and evil and why we experience suffering and pain is not always the most helpful thing. When you’re in the middle of it, this kind of message can even be seen as offensive. The goal today is not to offend you. The heart behind this post is to offer help and to offer compassion in the midst of your pain.

People have wrestled with the question of pain and God’s goodness for centuries. The greek philosopher, Epicurus, in 300 BC posed the question this way:

blog epicurus.001

The problem of pain is very personal. It may have started at a young age through divorced parents or maybe you’ve lost someone. And you’re left asking, “Why is there pain?”

Today, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we experience pain.

1. We experience pain because the world is broken.

What we’re seeing and experiencing is not the way it is supposed to be. This isn’t the way God wants it to be. Everything began with a Creator.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

That’s a big statement, we devoted an entire post to answer the question Is God Real? There, we talked about why we believe God exists. You don’t even need to read the Bible to know God is real. Just look around and you can learn a lot about God. Wherever there is creation, there’s evidence of creation. Wherever there is design, there’s evidence of a designer. Wherever there is moral law and obligation, there is a moral law giver.

Romans 1 says, look around and you’ll learn a lot about the goodness of God. So when God created the heaven and earth, it was perfect. But then, creation rejected the Creator and as a result, nothing is as it should be.

“Cursed is the ground because of you…”  Genesis 3:17

Life is made more difficult. We are all to blame for this brokenness because we have all rejected God and his goodness. God’s plan to restore the world to perfect includes us. The good news is, that God desires for us to join him now in making his plans for restoration, unity, and peace a reality. We find this in Colossians.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God   in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”  Colossians 1:15-20

So through the work of Christ, the creation that rejected the Creator can now be at peace with God. This is good news. Why, because verse 21:

“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”  Colossians 1:21-23

A lot of us are pinning our pain on God. It is not God’s Will that there be earthquakes, typhoons,  hurricanes, tornados and natural disasters. He doesn’t want cancer, disease or death for anyone.

Jesus suffered for this suffering world so that we would find renewal in Him, a renewal that will be completed when Jesus brings heaven and earth fully together in the end.

We’re just not there yet. God’s final plan is not simply that we all go to heaven and everything is fine. His plan is to come back to earth and fix everything. Ultimately, we don’t go up to heaven, heaven comes to earth. He’s going to kick out all sin, all rebellion, and that’s how we’ll live forever. God is rescuing all of creation. That’s what every story in scripture is telling us.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

Life is hard because the world is broken, and we experience pain because the world is cursed, but Jesus is restoring all things from the brokenness of the world by his power and through his people. This is temporary. This is not what God has for you forever.

2. We experience pain because of ourselves.

Sometimes we experience pain because we are sinners. We make bad decisions — accidentally and willfully — and these choices make our lives a lot harder.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 3:23

Often, life is hard because we not only do evil things, but we don’t respond well when the consequences come.

“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:3 NLT

Life is hard because of us. Not all the time, but it is a lot more of the time than we care to admit. No matter the sin, it is vital that we do not simply say, “This is just who I am,” and fail to pursue renewal. In this case we must confess sin and repent. In Jesus we find true wisdom, righteousness, and redemption from our sin. We experience pain because of ourselves, but Jesus graciously forgives us when we confess that our sin has dishonored him and made life complicated and difficult.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

3. We experience pain because of someone else.

Sometimes life is hard and we experience pain and suffering because others sin against us. We see this throughout scripture in the parable of the good Samaritan where the man is left for dead, Joseph in the Old Testament who’s abandoned by his brothers and David who’s fleeing for his life. It’s also in Job’s story.

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.”  Job 2:7

We experience pain because of someone else, and many times that someone else is the great enemy. We don’t live in a playground, we live in a battleground. Where we’ve got to put on the armor of God. Every day there’s a battle for our heart, attention, focus and worship.

If you are experiencing pain because of someone in your life or even because of the enemy, you are not alone. Jesus didn’t stay far away from this battle. He came and experienced it. He came and received the brunt and the judgement that was sentenced. Jesus responded to the great need of humanity by allowing himself to take the position of a victim and bearing the sins and folly of the entire human race.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

Therefore, when we are victimized, we should remember that Jesus not only can identify with us in our unjust treatment. He put shame to shame on the cross, we also find power and cleansing in Him.

When we cry out to Jesus, we’re crying out to someone thoroughly acquainted with our pain. 

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

God can heal you from the harm that has been done to you. And through the power of the cross he can heal your pain.

4. We experience pain because it makes us more like Jesus.

Not everything bad in life is ultimately bad for you. Pain is not without purpose. You see, there is a built in assumption that in order for God to be good, He must never allow evil. But there’s fallout from that way of thinking. It means either God would create nothing or God would create beings with no possibility for moral free will. 

The great paradox of free will is that in order for God to create beings capable of love, He must also create a world where evil and suffering can exist.

He could create a universe with no pain. But also devoid of mercy, love, compassion, true peace, significance, forgiveness or happiness. This is where God stands alone and, amazingly, no other worldview deals with pain the way our God does.

blog pain.001

Through suffering we are more and more acquainted and formed into the image of God’s Son. As you embrace suffering you also grow in hope.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

Our perishable bodies are subject to sin and suffering, but God never abandons us. Paul would say the things that happened to him, the pain he experienced, was there to further the gospel.

Our weakest moment may be when we’re the strongest. 

“…Indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:17-18

You’re not suffering alone. We suffer with Him. We will be glorified with Him. To those who love God, the suffering doesn’t compare to the glory we have in Christ Jesus. When we look at the character of God and look at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, it tells us what the answer is not. The answer cannot be because He doesn’t love us, that He isn’t for us or because He isn’t working all things together for good.

God is good. We experience pain. This changes our perspective on life. Have you ever looked at things in your life and said, “Why does this have to be so hard?” Things should be easier. This job should be easier. This education should be easier. This marriage should be easier. Walking with God should be easier. Faith should be easier. This perspective makes you miss so much of the goodness of God. Now, try flipping it around and say, “Life is hard, but God is good.”

Life is hard, but God is good.

When you start with life is hard, then you’ll find blessings along the way. Life is hard, but God is good. Life is hard, but look at God over here being faithful. Life is hard, but you’re going to make it anyway. You may be at the end of your rope, but you’re not at the end of your hope. You may be hard pressed on every side, but God is good – you’re not crushed. You may be perplexed or don’t understand it all, but you’re not in despair.


Check Back

Check back on what you discussed last week. Does anyone have any more thoughts on Noah and the flood? Did anyone have any exciting conversations or times studying God’s Word?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week we looked at the questions, “Is God Good?” We ask this questions because of the pain we see around us, and because of the pain we see in the world. It leaves us asking, “How could a good God allow pain?”

Spend some time in the word of God together as a group. Read Colossians 1:15-23. (If you have time consider reading the entire New Testament book of Colossians. It takes about 15 minutes.)

We learn from God’s Word that we experience pain because of four main reasons.

1. We experience pain because the world is broken.

Things are not the way God created them to be, because creation has rejected the Creator. (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 3:17, Revelation 21:4)

2. We experience pain because of ourselves.

Sometimes we experience pain because we are sinners. We make bad decisions – accidentally and willfully – and these choices make our lives a lot harder. (Romans 3:23, Proverbs 19:3, 1 John 1:9)

3. We experience pain because of someone else.

Other people cause us pain. The enemy, the devil, also causes us pain. (Job 2:7, Isaiah 53:3, 1 John 1:7)

4. We experience pain because it makes us more like Jesus.

Sometimes we experience pain because God is good. When we embrace suffering, we become more like Jesus, who suffered for a suffering world. (2 Corinthians 4:8-11, Romans 8:17-18)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in the message? What did you hear?
  2. What pain are you experiencing because the world is broken and the way life was supposed to operate is fractured?
  3. What pain are you experiencing that you brought on yourself?
  4. Are you carrying any pain because of another person? What pain do we see as a result of our great enemy, the devil?
  5. How can pain conform us more into the likeness of Christ?
  6. Based on the life, death and resurrection of Christ, does the existence of pain mean there is no God?

Tell Someone Else

The world says, ” God is hard, but life is good!” The reality is, “Life is hard, but God is good.” How can this change our perspective and attitude toward life for the better? Who needs to be reminded of God’s goodness through you?

 

For Mobile Wallpaper