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Why Do We Suffer: Part III

1Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

Introduction

This morning we conclude our series on suffering and hardship.

Now remember two weeks ago we began by asking why believers suffer and endure hardships (why does God call us to walk through so many difficulties in the life)? Remember we saw 5 basic reasons that Christians suffer. However, at the heart of each one of these reasons is the fact that God has sent us into a fallen world to endure its fallen conditions as witnesses and heralds to that world of the salvation and deliverance that God offers. (We are translators able to speak both the world’s language of suffering as well as the language of grace, hope, and deliverance)

 

Last week in Part 2 of our series, we turned to ask our second question (what): what real, concrete help can we expect/count on from God in the midst of suffering hardship? Often it appears that God deliver some while He leaves other to struggle through their trials? So what can we count on? Remember, last week we saw that Scripture teaches us that God’s deliverance takes many forms:

·      Some God keeps from the fire.

·      Some God delivers through the fire.

·      Some God preserves in the midst of the fire.

·      Some God receives from the fire

Not only that, Scripture shows us that each one of these different kinds of deliverance is truly and actually a deliverance of God. Also, each of us has seen God working in our own life in each one of these ways. In other words, the message of Scripture is not that God shows mercy to some while withholding His mercy from others. Instead, the message of Scripture is that God’s deliverance takes many different forms and therefore we need to know what we are looking for as we seek to discern God’s hand at work in our life.  

 

This morning as we continue exploring our second question (what can we count on from God amid trial) I want to reverse our trend from last week. That is, instead of expanding our understanding of the different forms deliverance takes, I want us to narrow the focus. That is, I want us to break down the notion of deliverance into its common components. In other words, I want us to look at what is true about any instance of deliverance regardless of the form it takes. Why? If we can find what is true of every instance of deliverance, then we can set our hope, trust, and expectation there. This in turn will help us fortify our faith and defend us from the lies and discouragement Satan often throws at us during a trial.

 

 

III. Deliverance itself- What is true of each and every type of deliverance that God gives?

 

A] First and foremost, each and every type of deliverance that God give is an expression of the fullness of His love, favor, and commitment to you. God is with you and for you in the midst of all you face.

Isaiah 49:15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 "Behold, I have tattooed you on the palms of My hands;

Hebrews 6:17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,

 

 

B] Second, each and every type of deliverance that God give is an expression of your exact need, your particular place within Christ’s ministry, and God’s perfect plan for your life (in other words, deliverance is never generic. Instead, it is always precise and personal care. God always attends to you as you)FN#1

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Luke 12:6 "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God.7 "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. {See also Psalm 139}

 

 

C] Finally, no deliverance in this life is the full deliverance that God promises and intends. Why? We have been sent on a mission into a fallen world and this world cannot contain or express the fullness of life that God has instore for us. FN#2

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now, however what we will be has not yet appeared;

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.

 

Notice the result: on the one hand, each and every one of us receives God’s on going deliverance throughout this life (in whatever form it may take). In another equally true and profound sense none of us in this life receive the deliverance that God intends. Notice then how Hebrews 11 bears this out:

Hebrews 11:33 by faith they conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection;

others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Importance: at first glance it seems as those in the first group were delivered while to those in the second group deliverance was withheld. However, if we read more carefully what we find is that the whole point of chapter 11 is that not one of them received the deliverance that God has in store for His people. Listen to the very next two verses of this passage:

Hebrews 11:39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect/complete.

Notice then each of them was approved, each was made an heir, and each received God’s mercy and help. However, none of them received the full deliverance that God promises His people. Instead, they each carried that promise a bit further. Likewise, each shared the assurance that they would enjoy God’s promise in full with the whole people of God.

 

Notice then the point: each of the 4 types of deliverance that we have seen in Scripture (deliverance from, though, within, reception out of) none of them are the full deliverance that God intends. Instead, each one is but a foretaste of the true deliverance that God has in store for all His people. 

 

So what does all this mean to you right now? It means that no promise of God is ever completely realized in this present life. Rather, God’s deliverance today points to and is a promise of the full deliverance to come. However at the same time, it also means that no promise of God is ever merely a matter of the far off future. Instead, God is with you now and is already delivering you through the challenges of today so that He might bring you to the fullness of His Kingdom. FN#3

 

Bottom line: what can I expect or count on from God amid trial? I can expect the fullness of God’s presence, kindness, and care in the midst of every situation I face in my life today (regardless of what form that deliverance takes). In turn, I am to understand that each instance of God’s deliverance today points to and is a promise/reminder of the fullness of God’s deliverance to come. As such, I am to base my trust, hope, and expectations on living hope. It is living because it is already mine and is already at work in my life. It is hope because it is not yet fully complete (1Peter 1:3-6).FN#4



Footnotes

1] We could well say that each type of God’s deliverance is wise. Remember when we talk of God’s wisdom we mean that God always chooses the best and most excellent end and the best and most excellent means for reaching that end whenever he deals with His creation/creatures

James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.

 

2] Note: while the fact that we have been sent on a mission of mercy into a fallen world may not make a trial lest arduous to endure, it does mean that no trail is pointless, arbitrary, or cruel. Instead, whether it is the witness you give in the midst of your trial, or whether it is the witness you are equipped to give because of your trial, or whether it is the witness others give in caring for you during your trial- your suffering is always bound to the purpose and meaning of Christ’s suffering (remember you have been sent into this fallen world to share in the mission of Christ. Therefore, it is no surprise that the costs you encounter along the way are also subsumed under that same mission). 

2 Corinthians 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

1 Peter 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

 

3] Each instance of deliverance today is but a foretaste of the true deliverance to come.  However, this does not mean that God’s deliverance today is insignificant or disposable. Instead, every instance of God’s deliverance today is what it is because it directly reflects the full deliverance to come. At the same time, each instance of deliverance today prepares us for and caries us ever closer to the full deliverance that God has instore for us

1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

In other words, deliverance today and the fullness of Deliverance to come are inseparably connected. We are delivered today because God is bringing us to His full deliverance. In turn, God’s full deliverance is the content that today’s deliverance reflects, points to, and promises.

 

4] The question during any trial is not if God will be with you or if God will deliver you. Instead, the question is how God will deliver you through the trials of this life in order to bring you to the full deliverance He has promised you

Ephesians 1:13 having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the pledge/guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,

John 6:39 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

John 17:15 "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.

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