Today’s sermon was something that should have hit home to many Christians, and seekers alike. The scriptural background was Judges 2:6-13 [show]ERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'
6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.
I think the main point of the sermon is after the jump.
Art said one thing (amongst many) which hit me hard, to the point where I had to write it down:
knowledge without experience is merely information.
What happened during the end of Joshua’s life, an era in which an entire generation of God-believing-and-fearing peoples were nearing their expiration were soon to be filled with a generation of God-unbelieving peoples, had been repeated through the Puritan migration to New England and is, according to Art’s observations, occurring in the Chinese churches today. Of course, this growing trend of post-modernistic thought, as well as apathy toward life, God and everything else, can probably be seen in churches throughout North America.
The new generation of Joshua’s end time had not walked through the desert for 40 years, and 40 more afterward, nor had they seen the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, drank water flowing from a rock, or eaten manna which fell from the skies. Most of them were born into the land of Canaan, free from the slavery in Egypt and relishing in the benefits of the promised land, and therefore would not ever understand the hardships their fathers and forefathers had endured. They would also not understand the existence and sovereignty of the Almighty God.
To them, Baal and Ashteroth were good enough gods which they could see, worship and experience. And thus this new generation of Jews were put to persecution and war, as seen in Judges 3 [show]ERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'
, to let them learn how to fight, how to survive, and experience the power of God. Art concluded that trials and hardships in our lives are meant to allow us to experience God and to have a glimpse of Him.
Surely, this isn’t a surefire-all-encompassing answer to why suffering occurs in life. More than often, “suffering” happens when we are most focused with our own well-being. We “suffer” when things aren’t going our way, according to our plan. And shouldn’t we “suffer” in order to experience and see God’s works?
Merely mentioning “suffering” in the Christian sense then seems a little limited. Many people will ask, what about the innocent non-believing people who have to suffer? Those who have had their families destroyed, those who are born with incurable diseases, those who develop incurable diseases, those trapped in war-torn countries, those who do good in their neighborhood but get gunned down? Why do they have to suffer? Saying “so they can experience and have God revealed to them”, combined with “because we live in a broken world which only belief in Jesus can fix” can both be simplistically idealistic, yet paradoxically accurate.
Through “suffering” comes questioning. Through questioning comes opportunities for answers. Through answers, hopefully comes truth, love, healing, and most importantly, God’s glory. However, there can be no healing for the broken if there is nobody to help share the answer, our freedom and redemption from the physical suffering constraints of this world through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Thus as a Christian, when we “suffer”, there are a few questions that come to mind.
- Is my suffering brought upon me as punishment toward my sins?
- Is my suffering brought upon me as temptation from Satan?
- Is my suffering brought upon me as a reminder of God’s existence, sovereignty and commandments?
If you believe your suffering is due to your the sins that you may have committed by your hands or in your heart, you must definitely acknowledge your sins to God and ask for forgiveness. What point is asking why you’re suffering for your sins, when you are aware of them and do not ask for forgiveness? Is that not similar to having a nail impale your foot, and refusing to take it out?
There could be many times when Satan is causing your suffering in order to sway you from the hand of God. Case in point, Job. Under no circumstances would the LORD ever tempt you, for God does NOT tempt you to do evil. Saying the LORD is tempting you equates Him with being evil, which He cannot be.
The final question has been attempted to be answered through this entire post, though the question of why we suffer cannot be sufficiently answered (and accepted) by many people.
Should our questions then be revised from “God, why am I suffering?” to “God, what are You trying to reveal to me through this?”
“Grey Christianity” is a mini-series of commentaries and questions devoted to tackling some of the issues which come to my mind as a Christian. I take no authority whatsoever over what I say, and hope there aren’t misquotes of scripture, in the rare occurrences I actually quote scripture.
These posts are meant as discussion of these issues, not as avenues for people to smash Christianity. Do not waste our time if you plan to troll.