Hebrews 12:2
Suffering Saints (2)

Last Sunday night, I preached the first in a series of messages on suffering.
There were several important points to that message.
   1. It was to let you know that suffering is part of everyoneís life.  God is
       not just picking on you.
   2. It was to let you know that God uses suffering to grow you.
   3. And to inform you that God will reward you in eternity for what you endure
      in this life.

Tonight, I want to focus on how to endure suffering.  What can we do to hang on
while suffering does its work?

This is another of those messages that I will not finish tonight.  I will get as
far as I can and stop;

We know that no one enjoys suffering.  No one.  Not even Christ.  The Bible tells
us that Jesus looked beyond His suffering to the joy on the other side.

Notice what the Bible says of Jesus and the cross, His place of suffering.  He
ENDURED the cross.  Some things in life just have to be endured.  Yet, if we
study the Bible, we can find some things which will make the suffering more
ENDURABLE.

I have two thoughts I would like to give to you tonight but I believe I will only
get to one of them.  The two thoughts are:
    1. Some things need to be remembered while you are suffering.
    2. Some things need to be practiced while you are suffering.

    I. Things to remember.
        A. God is with you.
            1. This, in large measure, is what the book of Psalms was written
                to show us.
                a. Psalm 46

1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the
mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake
with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the
holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

                    (1) The psalmist is speaking of the river of Godís presence.
                    (2) Note the next verse.

5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and
that right early.

                    (3) Having God in the midst of us means that no matter what
                         is happening, God is in control, as demonstrated in the
                         next verses.

6  The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8  Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and
cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

                    (4) Here is the key.  In the middle of your suffering, stop,
                         be quiet, and be filled with the presence of God!

10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be
exalted in the earth.
11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

                b. This is not only an Old Testament teaching but a New Testament
                    teaching as well.

2 Timothy 4:16  At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me:
I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17  Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the
preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was
delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

                    (1) Paul knew what it was to suffer.  There are ample
                         Scriptures to document that.
                    (2) But he also knew that God was with him.
                c. If you lose this thought in the course of your trials, you
                    will surely be most miserable.
                    (1) Most of us can endure pain, ridicule, imprisonment, want.
                    (2) However, loneliness is a pain that few souls can bear.
                    (3) A child of God is never alone!

       B. God is a refuge for you.

Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalms 27:5  For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the
secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth
them that trust in him.

            1. Now this is where things get complicated.
                a. We have already seen in the Bible that everyone suffers.
                b. Now we find Scriptures which say that God is to be our refuge.
                c. How can we suffer and be protected at the same time?
                d. Trying to reconcile the promises of God to protect us to the
                    reality that we suffer has caused many Christians, myself
                    included, much agony.
            2. Learn the secret of a refuge.
                a. A refuge does not keep you out of the storm.  One does not
                    enter a refuge and the storm departs.
                b. A refuge does not protect everything.  A individual in the
                    refuge may be safe but those things left outside of the
                    shelter are subject the wrath of the storm.
                c. What does a refuge do?  A refuge protects you IN the storm and
                    a refuge protects the things you entrusted to its care.
                d. When Katrina hit Louisiana, people went to the shelters.
                    (1) As far as I know, those in approved shelters were safe
                         from the hurricane.
                    (2) However, while the people were safe inside the refuge,
                         most of the possessions left outside were lost.
                    (3) What did the shelters protect?
                         (a) They protected the lives of the people inside them.
                         (b) They protected the things inside the refuge, those 
                              things the people considered important enough to
                              bring inside.
                d. What God, our Refuge, is offering us is not a suffering-free
                    or a pain-free life.
                e. What He promises is to protect the people and the things brought
                    to Him.
            3. To understand why God letís us lose some of the things we lose, we
                must distinguish between four things.
                a. We must distinguish between the things entrusted to God and the
                    the things not.
                    (1) The truth is that we lose somethings because we never gave
                         them to God in the first place.
                    (2) In fact, some of the things that we consider to be most
                         important, we have made into idols.
                    (3) Surely, God our Refuge will not protect these things.
                b. We must distinguish between the things which are important and
                    the things which are not.
                    (1) We see temporal.  God sees eternal.
                    (2) Some of the things which are very important to us, God
                         knows we are going to have to give up someday any way.
                    (3) Some of these, God, in His goodness. may protect from the
                         storms.  Some He may not.
                c. We must distinguish between US and the THINGS WE POSSESS.
                    (1) I am not the same as MY POSSESSIONS.
                        (a) In my list of possession, I have a car (actually, the
                             car may be in Kathyís name), clothes, and a few
                             personal items.
                        (b) However, I am not those things.
                        (c) I am more than my possession.
                    (2) In my list of possession is also MY LIFE.
                        (a) My life will one day end, but I will not.  I am
                             eternal.
                        (b) I am more than my life.
                        (c) My life, as essential as it seems to be to me right
                             now, is just another possession.
                    (3) In my list of possession is my BODY.
                        (a) My body will cease to be one day, but I will not.
                        (b) My body is just another possession.
                d. We must distinguish between our will and Godís will.
                    (1) God, as our Sovereign, does some things which we just
                         donít understandóand maybe donít like.
                    (2) All I can say is that we will understand it better by-
                        and-by.
            4. While I do not have all the answers to why God does what God does,
                I do trust God, our Refuge!
                a. I know that while suffering may beat against our lives, our
                    bodies, and our possession, God has put the important things
                    out of the reach of all harm.
                    a. Our eternal souls are safe.
                    b. Our family and friends who have trusted Christ are safe. 
                    c. Our walk with God is safe.
                    d. And more times that not, God protects our families, our
                        lives, even our prosperity and happiness.
                b. This is the refuge that God has promised for us.

       C. God will comfort you.

2Cor 1:3  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father
of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them
which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of
God.

            1. Christian, you cannot go through a trial, through suffering, and
                God not reach out to you.
                a. That will never happen.
                b. God is love.  God is good.  God is merciful.  God is kind.
                c. God will never see His child in affliction and abandon him to
                    it, even if God brought the affliction upon that child as a
                    correction. 
            2. However, you might go through an affliction and not FEEL or SENSE
                Him near you.
                a. Get this.  You may not feel or sense Him, but He is there.  He
                    is reaching out to you.
                b. Why donít I feel Him?
                    (1) There are likely a multitude of reasons but the fault is in
                         us.  
                    (2) Our spiritual senses can become over-loaded.  After we
                         go through so much, we just short out.
                    (3) Our hearts can become hardened.  We can get resentful or
                         angry at God.
                c. However, God is there and God is reaching out to comfort you.
                d. That is just what God does because that is just who God is.

John 14:18  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Matthew 28:20 ÖI am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

            3. However, if you will come to God will a humble and contrite spirit,
                you will feel God.

Psalms 34:18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth
such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalms 51:17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite
heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Isaiah 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,
whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of
a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive
the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 66:2  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have
been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and
of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

        D. God will deliver you

Psalms 91:15  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in
trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

Psalm 50:15  And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and
thou shalt glorify me.

Psalms 72:12  For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and
him that hath no helper.

            1. Every child of God shall be delivered from every affliction.
            2. Sometimes, God delivers now, and sometimes God delivers later;
                but God always delivers.

   II. Things to do.
        1. Until God delivers, abide in Godís rest.

Matthew 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest.
29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and
ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

            a. Go into the refuge and rest there not fret there.
            b. Go into the refuge and let God worry and work.  You just trust,
                wait, obey, and be patient.
        2. Until God delivers, praise Him.
            a. Many psalms teach us to praise God not just when we get delivered
                but even before we are delivered.
            b. Psalm 57 - David is still in distress.

4  My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even
the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

6  They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged
a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.

            c. However, David still praises the Lord.

7  My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
8  Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
9  I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the
nations.
10  For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.
11  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the
earth.

        3. Until God delivers, continue on.

Hebrews 12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud
of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily
beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

           a. Donít let you afflictions stop you.
           b. Someone has said, "Donít stop in the darkness what you knew you
               was right in the light."

        4. Until God delivers, rejoice and be patient.

James 1:2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing.

        5. Until God delivers, we should search our heart for sin.

Job 34:32  [That which] I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.

        6. Until God delivers, we should trust in Godís goodness.

Psalm 27:13  I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

        7. Until  God  delivers, we should remember Godís former mercies.
            a. God has helped you so many times in the past, you do not have to
                look very far backward to see an occasion.
            b. Stop and remember. It will help you to endure whatever is coming
                your way right now. 
                
The truth is that no one wants to suffer, but no one is going to live long without
suffering.  As Christians, our faith will not exempt us but, it can guarantee that 
the suffering is not wasted.  God can use our suffering to accomplish great works
in our lives.

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