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Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? | A New Way to See Hardship

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 30, 2022 3:00 am

Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? | A New Way to See Hardship

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 30, 2022 3:00 am

Have you ever seen your child face something pretty tough? Maybe it was an important medical procedure that was quite painful. You knew it was necessary and helpful in the long term, but your child just focused on the suffering. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us trust our Heavenly Father to know what’s best—even when there’s pain in the present. We’ll learn the encouragement that comes when we focus on the future benefit, and the present presence of God in our lives.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. We live a trouble-free life, but God makes all the difference because then you realize when hardship comes, there is still a loving Heavenly Father who will allow these things to be used for His glory. Have you ever seen your child face something pretty tough? Maybe it was an important medical procedure that was quite painful.

You knew it was necessary and helpful in the long term, but your child just focused on the suffering. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us trust our Heavenly Father to know what's best, even when there's pain in the present. We'll learn the encouragement that comes when we focus on the future benefit and the present presence of God in our lives. This is the day, the day when life begins. This is the day, the day when life begins.

This is the day, the day when life begins. If you think things are bad in the world today, I want you to think about the world that Paul was called to. Rome was clearly in power. Immorality was rampant. Divorce was widespread. Slavery was the order of the day.

Infanticide a regular practice. Prostitutes roamed the streets, pulling people into pagan temples, and the religious establishment was largely corrupt. Slavery was rampant, as was spiritism and outright demon worship. Temples erected to false gods stood seemingly on every corner, and this is the world the apostles were called to.

But because of the Roman road system, which was sort of like the first century version of the internet, for the first time in history, you were able to connect with people all around the planet because the Romans had built this incredible road system. Now the world was going to hear the gospel, and there was a common language of the day also instituted by Rome, the language of Greek, and so this is the world Paul and the others were called to, and in short order, without technology, without any of the tools we have today, they effectively turned their world upside down. There were really bright lights and a dark place, but now we're gonna see an interesting verse here in Acts 14 that talks about adversity that comes in the life of the Christian. It's great to talk about heaven. It's wonderful to think about glory and the rewards that await us, but there can be difficulties on the way because heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. So whatever you're going through right now, maybe I'm talking to somebody going through an intense trial, severe adversity, personal suffering, a tragedy, something else.

You're saying, why is this happening to me? Wouldn't it be great if the moment we accepted Christ we just went straight to heaven? You say to someone, would you like Jesus to come into your life?

Yes. Pray this prayer with me. Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner. I believe you're the savior who died in the cross, and I ask you to come into my life. Amen. Boom, you're in heaven.

That'd be cool, but that's not the way it works. There's things that are gonna happen in your life to prepare you for this prepared place, and the Bible is clear in pointing out that storms will come in every life, but there's a purpose in these storms. Go to Acts 14, verse 21. When they had preached the gospel to that city, it made many disciples that led many people to the Lord. It returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. There's the gospel, and the Christian life, and in a nutshell, it's not all blue skies, it's not all easy days. Those come, thank God.

But there are storm clouds, and there are challenges, and it's through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of God. Someone might say, well, I don't want that. I want to live carefree. I just want to have fun, because girls just want to have fun.

All I want to do is have some fun, and I've got a feeling I'm not the only one. I want to fly like an eagle till I'm free. Fly, fly, fly.

Listen, bird brain. That's not the way life works. Because through many tribulations, you will enter the kingdom of God. Listen to these words of Job. When he says, we're all adrift in the same boat, too few days, too many troubles.

Wow, that's relevant. Jesus summed it up to two men building their homes, or their lives, on different foundations. One man built his home on a rock. Another man built his home on the shifting sand. And the wind came, and the storms came, and the rain fell. And the one who was built on the rock stood and was strong.

The one who built his house on sand, his house collapsed. So you have a choice as to what you're going to build your life on, but here's the bottom line. Storms will come into every life. Storms will come into the life of the ungodly person. Storms will come into the life of the godly person. The Bible says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We cannot live a trouble-free life.

Maybe this is why Benjamin Disraeli, the former prime minister of England, reviewing his life said, quote, Youth is a mistake, manhood is a struggle, and old age is a regret, end quote. Pretty pessimistic view. Well, that's the view of life without God. But God makes all the difference, because then you realize when hardship comes, when adversity is knocking at the door of your life, when tragedy befalls you, there is still a loving Heavenly Father who will allow these things to be used for His glory. It's hard for us to wrap our minds around tragedy and the life of a Christian. It's hard for us to understand that a Christian can get cancer, or that a Christian can die in an automobile accident, or that a Christian can face some other horrible event in life. You know, our own son died in an automobile accident, and people sometimes ask, Well, are you over it yet? Never ask that question of anyone who's lost a child, because you never get over it. You do get through it.

It is not as hard today as it was after it happened, but it's still hard, and we still miss our son. And I did have people come to me and say, How could this happen to you of all people? Which I found an interesting question. Well, you're a preacher, and you help people and point people to God. Why would God allow this to happen to you? And my response is, Why do you think I would get a free pass? Because I'm a preacher. We're all in the same boat, as Job said.

I live in the same fallen world as you do. But here's what the Bible says in Romans 5. We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance, and endurance develops strength of character, and this hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know how dearly God loves us.

Wait, hold on, Paul. You said trials, and you said hardship, and then you said God loves me. If God loves me, why does He let me go through hardship and trials? Answer, because God loves me, and because through many tribulations, I will enter the kingdom of God. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We really enjoy hearing when Pastor Greg's teaching and preaching touch lives. Pastor Greg, I'm a junior in high school, was raised in church and saved at a very young age. But when I started high school, I fell away from the Lord. One day, I heard you on the radio, and your message helped me see that I needed to get my life right with God, which I did. Thank you for all you do in allowing God to work through you. It's a blessing to know that listeners, young and old, are hearing these messages, and God is using His word to touch hearts. How have Pastor Greg's studies impacted your life?

Would you let them know? Drop an email to gregatharvest.org. Well, we're glad you're along today for Pastor Greg's message in Acts 14 titled, Why Do Christians Have to Suffer?

Let's continue. Mary and Martha and Lazarus, remember them? They lived in Bethany. Bethany is basically striking distance from Jerusalem. So when the Lord and His disciples would make their way into the city, they would often stop at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

And Martha was a killer cook. And Jesus liked to hang out with them. They could legitimately say, we are friends of Jesus.

And wouldn't that not be hard to not bring up in every conversation? You know, as my friend Jesus just said to me yesterday, oh, he just texted me. Want to see his text? See?

We're tight. And they were. They were actual friends of Jesus. And so when Lazarus got very sick, Mary and Martha sent word to the Lord who was out traveling, the one that you love is sick.

Thinking for sure he would drop whatever he's doing, come back to Bethany, heal his buddy, and then return to whatever it was God had called him to do. But yet we read these verses in John 11. When Jesus heard about this, he said, the sickness of Lazarus will not end in death.

It happened for the glory of God, so the Son of God will receive glory from this. Listen. Although Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.

Wait. Because he loved them, he stayed where he was. Again, this doesn't make sense. Listen, God's ways are not your ways. And God's timing is not your timing. And they wanted a healing, but Jesus was instead going to do a resurrection. Because when he showed up in town, not only had he not healed Lazarus, but he had missed a funeral, and Martha came to him and said, Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died.

Let me update that. Jesus, you missed an opportunity. You blew it, Lord. We were bragging on you.

We were telling everyone you would come through, and you show up late. Jesus says, Martha, your brother will rise again. Oh, I know, Martha says. I know in the resurrection of the last day, Jesus says, Martha, read my lips.

No, he didn't say that, but he did say this. Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. It is whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Then he followed up with this question. Do you believe this?

Well, she didn't. Mary came and effectively said the same thing, and then Jesus walked up to the tomb of Lazarus, and he said, Lazarus, come forth. It's a good thing he said, Lazarus, come forth. If he had simply said, come forth, everybody in every grave around the planet would have burst out. Lazarus, I'm talking to you.

Come back, come forth, and Lazarus did. The point of this is God allowed it for his purposes, so maybe it seems to you right now that Jesus is not hearing your prayer or that his delay is a denial. Understand, God may have a purpose. Why does God allow adversity in the life of the Christian?

If you're taking notes, here's point number one. Suffering and adversity keep us humble. Suffering and adversity keep us humble. Prosperity, success, can have a tendency to make people proud and self-sufficient.

We might say we wouldn't verbalize it necessarily, but we think it. I don't need God. I have money on my account. I have my investments. I have my career.

I have my family. I have this, I have that, and so I'm not thinking about the Lord. Proverbs 30 says, give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little.

If I'm too full, I might get independent, saying, God, who needs him? And that happens. When the children of Israel left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. By the way, it does not take 40 years to get from Egypt to Israel, even on foot.

It takes a lot less than that, maybe 40 days, two months at the most. So obviously, they were going in circles, but they were provided for by the Lord. He led them with the coolest GPS system of all time, a fire by night, a cloud by day. He fed them manna every day. But then when they came to the land of Canaan, the promised land, God gave them this warning. He said, when you get to that land and you have eaten and you are full, beware lest you forget the Lord. You see, when life gets hard, when adversity hits, we drop to our knees and we pray.

Here's my question. Do you pray with the same intensity when all your needs are met? We should be as quick to give thanks as we are to come to God with our petitions and say, Lord, thank you. Right now, just think about all that God has given you. You have your home, you have, or your apartment, or I don't know where you live, but you have some place where you live and lay your head. You have your health, hopefully.

You have your family, perhaps. You have salvation, of that I'm sure. Let's just all say thank you, Lord, right now. Thank you, Lord.

He's so good to us, isn't he? So we need to pray. Number two, adversity teaches us eternal truths we would otherwise not learn. Adversity teaches us eternal truths that we would otherwise not learn.

We try to avoid pain at all costs. You know, this is why I'm amazed at people who get tattoos. By the way, I'm not against tattoos.

I'm fine with them. I went to get a tattoo. They said, you're too old and lame, leave right now. But seriously, here's the reason I would never get a tattoo. It looks like it hurts. See, I don't like pain. Like when I go to the dentist, I don't like pain. They say, this won't hurt a bit, and they give you the shot of Novocaine. It still hurts.

And we're always looking for a way around pain. You know, I want to work out. I want to lose weight, but I actually, well, let's take out the workout part.

I just want to lose weight. Because I'm in bad shape, or I'm not in a good shape. Well, I'm in a shape. It's kind of like the shape of a pear.

And people even call me the Lord's pear. And I don't appreciate that. So I want to get in better shape. So you talk to a trainer or somebody who's in good shape. Gotta hit the gym, man.

Hit the gym, break it down, build it up. No pain, no gain. Is there a way around this that we don't like to go through those things? But in a way, trials are like God's gym to break us down, to build us up. Pain reminds us of a deeper need. For instance, when I get hunger pangs, it reminds me it's time to eat. And my stomach works like clockwork. I mean, my stomach knows what time it is before my brain does.

And it's time to eat. And so sometimes pain is allowed in our life to get our attention. Now don't get me wrong, and I hope I don't seem to be overemphasizing suffering today. Because there's gonna be many great days. Many pain-free days. Many days when there is no adversity at all.

And we're thankful for those days. And I would encourage you, enjoy them. God even says in scripture that he has given us richly all things to enjoy.

So enjoy those things. But understand that adversity will come. Why do we go through these trials?

Again, Acts 14, 22. We must, through many tribulations, enter the kingdom of God. Here's the third reason we go through these trials and temptations. We have a new compassion for others in pain. When you go through adversity, you will have a new compassion for others who are in pain. We live in a world of pain and hurt.

Everyone has it. It's been said if you preach to people who are hurting, you will never lack for an audience. It's also been said success builds walls, failure builds bridges.

Does that make sense? Success builds walls. Failure builds bridges. So when I talk about how great my life is and I don't have any problems, and look at me and follow me on Instagram and everything's perfect, who can connect to that?

But failure. When I talk about difficulty and challenges, oh, now I'm speaking in the language of real people who live in the real world. And by the way, a lot of those people giving you their fake life, they're not living that life either. It's all a mirage. It's all an illusion. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1, 4, God comforts us in our troubles.

Listen. So we can comfort others when they're troubled and we'll be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. The more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with this comfort through Christ. So I would not go through what I went through losing our son if I could change history.

I would bring him back in a heartbeat, but I can say this. God has given to me and my wife and our son a ministry we did not ask for, but a ministry we embrace. And it's a ministry of helping others who've lost loved ones.

Okay? You know? Because I don't want to waste my pain. And if I can offer a word of encouragement, a word of hope to anybody who has gone through the worst tragedy imaginable, I want to do that and tell them that God will be there with them and God will walk through what they're going through with them as well. And if their loved one was a believer, the greatest hope of all, they will see their loved one again because they're not just a part of their past, they're also a part of their future. That's our hope in Christ. Good encouragement from Pastor Greg Laurie. Such important insight today here on A New Beginning on a challenging subject.

The title of today's study, Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? You know, Pastor Greg, every day we get such wonderful correspondence from our listeners. Yes. Letters, e-mails, texts, social media postings, and many times the listener will mention they're a Harvest Partner.

Yeah. And that just makes us smile because that means they're part of our family. Explain that. Well, Harvest Partners, in case you don't know, are people that stand with us every month. You know, so many of us listen to Christian radio and we listen to great teachings or we listen to our favorite Bible podcast and these things become a part of our life and sometimes we take them for granted. And so, you know, when they say, hey, help us financially, we think, oh well, someone else will do it.

Well, sometimes someone else doesn't do it. And so I'm asking you to be a partner with us. What does it mean?

It means that you make a commitment to stand with us financially every month. You decide how much that will be, but every month as that gift comes in, that enables us to plan for the future and think about new opportunities that are out there and many opportunities pop up all the time to reach more people with the word of God. Now look, there's a lot of great ministries out there that are well worth supporting, but let me just toot our own horn for just a moment. A unique thing about Harvest Ministries is we invite people to Jesus Christ all the time. You know, if you listen, that I'll end one of my messages with a prayer that a person can actually pray and did you know thousands of people pray that prayer with me every year?

I'm not exaggerating, thousands of people. I've heard stories of people pulling off the freeway when they're driving their car and they bow their head and they pray that prayer. I've heard so many incredible stories, so know this, when you support Harvest Ministries, you're not only supporting the teaching of the word of God, but you're supporting the proclamation of the gospel and not just the proclamation. You're supporting a ministry that believes in closing the deal and by that I mean we throw the net and we pull the net back in and we ask people, would you like to accept Christ?

Here's how to do it, why don't you do it? And then we send them a new believer's bible. Do you believe that's an important thing for our nation right now?

I sure do. If you want to be a Harvest partner, here's Dave to tell you more. Yeah, it's an opportunity to invest in something that matters for eternity. Pastor Greg is looking for a thousand new Harvest partners to join us right now and working together to reach people in such a critical time. The world is a mess, I'm sure you've noticed, but it's the perfect opportunity to invite them to look beyond this world.

A thousand new partners may seem like a lot, but these studies are heard all over the country and it's really just a small group in each area that say, yes, this is important and I want to do my part. So can we count on you? We'll say thank you for becoming a new Harvest partner with a copy of Pastor Greg's book, Dave McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. And we won't be mentioning this much longer, so contact us today. Just call 1-800-821-3300. Call any time 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to harvest.org slash partner. We hope you'll let us hear from you today. Well, next time we'll learn how to focus on the glory of eternity to keep a heavenly perspective on the earthly trials we face. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.

This is the day, the day when life begins. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 12:43:49 / 2023-03-04 12:53:50 / 10

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