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December 30, 2021 9:00 pm
Why do I experience pain in life? Dane Ortlund offers answers to the hard, unavoidable reality that we as humans face in hurt and suffering.
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You know before you jump in her interview today. Sorry I was to begin in Iowa a few weeks ago at a marriage conference and this couple came up and it was so cool because they said you don't know us, but we feel like we know you and and we listen to you every single day in family life today and she starts tearing up that I as you came talk and I look at him like what she's like I just can't tell you how you have saved our marriage, self-cleaning family life today and the content that we bring every day.
It was so cool is this see them and feel their their marriage be saved by what we do are here. I've had that same experience is so funny when people say I feel like I'm working out with you every day now because there listening is there working out, but that same thing have the cultures pulling us away from God. But they're saying now year taking us back to knowing what it is to praise a family and had a marriage based on biblical principles that you and I just want to say thank you. There's many listeners that have given financially to make sure that this kind of ministry can happen. Maybe you've never given you did.
Even though that we are of donor supported ministry and today's the last day of 2021 it's your last opportunity to make a gift that is tax deductible for 2021. If you make a gift today hears incredible news that gift will be matched up to $2 million and will send you a gift as well continue devotional which is amazing that this is so important.
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Just go to families today.com you can make your donation there or call us at one 800 FL today them in our prayers that you join in with us be partners with us and watch God do what he's done already in 2021 in the next year and beyond. Describe a painful moment in your life or season that led to growth and hopefully not to say my marriage to you and me every season.
I feel like in painful moments that have led to growth.
I mean the most obvious terms. You are going to say our barley and welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most kind and Wilson and I'm Dave Wilson and you can find firstname.lastname@example.org or on our family life. This is family life today scribe a painful moment in your life that led to growth. I mean the most obvious would be our marriage because I think it we both bottom of the kind of the pit in terms of feeling like we were desperate we were losing our marriage and yet that but God moment, but God has lifted us up saved us, saved our marriage and I would say some of the most spiritual growth in the deepest times of Jesus were in those moments, yet in those moments.
I know I felt. Where are you God, why you let this happen.
This is not going to be helpful and yet we've learned God often uses our pain to gross gross up to him and that we learn that we'll talk about that that I now; we got Daniel and back with us. Dane welcome back to family life today. Thanks David and go to talk with you again you that we start a program I look over your just smiling no years left so what does a smile me, I'll just enjoy listening to goes quickly shows offers a personable and relatable of all is that I love it. Funny thing is half the time we don't know if you want to get us in real time. It's real response. You know you know, we know you as a pastor of Naperville Presbyterian in Naperville, Illinois. We were just there, just a beautiful suburb of Chicago. You're married with five kids you've written several books you're a real theologian, let alone a man of God in this book that you've written called deeper real change for real sinners is fascinating about how we really grow spiritually. We spent a little time talking about that but one things you get into in the book is what we just brought up this idea of how God uses pain hard things are life to actually you know, put us on a path of growth. Talk about that.
What we can't read long in the New Testament without coming up on this theme I would just want to say.
Sometimes we can talk about the church in the West as being free from suffering.
That's true in some ways over persecution but I I would want to say right off the bat.
Dave and and that every single one of us is affected by the fall, and every one of us is navigating life with all host of internal adversities. Anguish is pains, fears, worries, sends sufferings and so the first thing to say here is when we talk about anguish and pain in the Christian life. This is not for like five or 10% of believers. This is for all of us just in its own unique manifestation for each one of us, pain is simply we were talking about it in deeper. How do we grow as believers.
Pain is simply one unavoidable key ingredient that the divine chef uses in causing us to grow and flourish as believers so depressing because we all hear that we get gripped with fear, like a little corner on our honeymoon. This is a mean Dave and I talked about this before but on our honeymoon suite.
We plan on a two-week honeymoon.
It was amazing that in the middle of the night I woke up I had never had this before young in my faith I was 19 years old I'm sound asleep. By the way, and I had this sense, it was the craziest thing. This sense of holiness in the room where I felt like God wanted speak to me and I felt so strongly. I didn't grow up in the church I might what is happening right now. I have no idea what's happening I get on my knees and I have this sense of God just pressing in on my heart to start reading James the book of James son knew in my faith I could've categorized at that time all the book of James is about suffering or trials I would've never been able to say that. So as a young bride.
The next morning I told Dave about this whole thing and like this impression. I think that were supposed to start reading the book of James together. I feel like this is something that's really can be important for our future. So we start reading it a full day just folded up. You know James one verse to count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds of Mike why we reading James for you know you love your perspective on this as we talk about how God uses trials and pain in our life.
I'll read it and then you can just comment count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. And we kind of thought is something around the corner. That will be difficult but we clung to that last part of that scripture that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Talk about that well. I remember going to the beach of Southern California, Corona Delmar with my family growing up we wait out I was six, eight, 10 years old weighed out of the Pacific Ocean on the waves will start coming up at us. At first, let your ankles know that your knees and you keep walking out of the incident you're wasting your kinda destabilized the Pacific is cold is not like you and you keep walking out there and then pretty soon if you keep going. Unavoidably, always will come along that goes over your head throws you your tumbling all over upside down totally discombobulated, disoriented, and that is actually what happens to us in life we have garden-variety ankle high knee high waist high pain.
But what happens as God loves us too much to let us only remain the level of depth that we will have. If that's the only kind of pain we ever half but he wants is James one says he wants the testing of your faith to produce steadfastness so when that overhead wave comes then we are forced to either get cold and cynical and abandon faith or to believe what we always said we believed, but I've never had to truly bank on it.
And so, in other words, our professed belief in our actual belief have to come together or move further apart. That's what suffering is doing it's making us a do. I actually believe what I say I believe your theologically and at that fork in the road.
The Lord in his fatherly tender rugged kindness is pulling us into depth with him and giving us steadfastness so that were not lacking anything but a perfect and complete experience that the country that there have been some episodes a few episodes in my life and where I believe that I have but I also suspect and maybe it is my own weirdness. I suspect the biggest one is probably out ahead of me.
I don't know, just as I look around at the saints, and I'm 42. As I look at the sun. Probably half dead grandfather died when he was 84. Maybe I'm to get hit by truck tomorrow but just looking at my family.
Guess what the word was intended to go in their mid-80s are, I suspect, is probably out ahead of me. I do know the work that I'm doing as a pastor now glory and honor and privilege, though it is is very painful and is a fertile environment for deep pain so I don't really know my wife and I have walked through a valley or two together that the Lord has enabled us to whether those have deepened us, but I just being wrong is your guys.
I don't know if I've ever experienced something that has been like a Job like over the head kind of wave. How would you sit with her dad and mom which I've had to do a few times not. Not 10 or 20 times but you know is they've lost their child.
I for a decade coach high school football right over here near our house where three boys went to high school in one of our linebackers died he passed with cancer and you the whole football team. All the families in our community are at our church for the funeral and that's the public moment, but before that public moment.
I'm in their basement is there weeping and trying to understand where God is in this moment is a loser high school son and then you come to a verse like considered all joy, my brothers, you know, you think joy is there joy in the middle of a valley and how do we find that I would be the question. I think a lot of us would say how do we find joy in is he talking about like happy. Give us a little perspective on that old man you been a pastor for many years Dave and you walk through this, far more than I have. I do remember a few months ago doing a funeral with two tiny little coffins for children who had perished and here are a few thoughts that come to mind because number one this is real life and this is common real life. This is not something that just is for 1% of us M so let's go deep with God now, so that when that wave comes, we can weather by his grace stop number two. The Bible says weep with those who weep. The Bible never says provide theological answers for those who weep. So Romans 828 is true.
God works all things for good for those who are called according to his purpose. But Romans 1215 says weep with those who weep. We do Romans 1215 before we say Romans 828 to someone if we actually try to tell them answers, even true answers when the pain is wrong.
We are actually being like Job's friends. His miserable comforters and were being theoretical about it and we are what were doing is work exacerbating the pain were actually making it worse.
But when we when my wife and I walked through a tragedy in August 2018. Our pastor walked to the hospital room and she didn't say a word that he was being a good pastor. He wept with those who were weeping and the ministry of listening/solidarity is a profound rare and neglected ministry would you say Dave is a ministry of sheer and mere solidarity and don't let that awkward silence make you say something stupid goes when people suffer stupid things that church people say doubles the suffering they need is on Monday night of this week couple nights ago we learned of pregnancy that had gone south. Stacy came home and gave her the news young couple we love and I thought all right I'll give him a call and she said you think we should just show up and I didn't want to do that because what about more comfortable as I really I thought I said you're right, we just show up so we did that. It was the right thing to do. So those are couple thoughts that come to mind. I have a good friend to has two teenage sons that are really really struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, she's actually been reading the book of Job because she feels like she's in it that I sent her this quote from your book and says our natural instincts tell us that the way forward in the Christian life is by avoiding pain, but the New Testament tells us that pain is a means, not an obstacle to deepening in our Christian maturity and I thought, that's so good it's so true because we of course it's just natural to want to avoid it.
We hate pain. We don't want to go through it, but talk about that deepening where it can take us know the Lord Jesus Christ himself didn't go from life to resurrection glory. He went from life down into the nominee. The shame of suffering and rejection and death up into resurrection glory in the New Testament teaches in Romans Ephesians and Galatians that actually we who are united to Christ have the same pattern we share in his sufferings in that kind of way.
Paul Miller wrote a book called J curve the places out a couple hundred pages. We go pain. It's not only the big arc of our life we go from life up into heaven, and we go through pain but actually every day's equity is for talks about this to the way we experience resurrection power life in our mortal existence is by not by avoiding pain, but by receiving it sent from God receiving it, embracing it turning into faith, walking by faith not by sight. Say okay Lord I'm all in.
I'm yours I'm never going to suffer. Helen condemnation the way the Lord Jesus did any pain we ever suffer. Isn't that the ultimate pain he went through that on our behalf. Okay, but now God is shaping us in chiseling a school that hurts he's chiseling us to be something beautiful.
So yeah, you're right, it's a way that God is actually ultimately bringing us into joy and your right Dave, it's not chipper happiness. It doesn't mean like we smile more, necessarily, it might mean we cry more but tears can reflect joint real joint biblical joint, not just pain because were in touch with ourselves and with reality with actual like God. Tears are some of our most sublime and joyous moments and so pain is one way that gets us there. I know that when I was in college and just gave my life to Christ.
For some reason I ended up in the book of Philippians and one of the verses. I'll never forget it was Philippians 310 which is really what you just said they now impel rights that I may know Jesus or know him and the power of his resurrection and the reason I remember this so vividly is when I read that Mike yeah that's what I'm in for man. I want to know the power of the resurrection of Christ, yes, this is why Obama cries them to be a new man and I want to stop right there and then I read the next phrase in Mike that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death in my what way will await what why is this in the Bible. I mean, it's about and letting it sit just like you say that to be becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead is just what you said but I think you know when the pain comes in our life we want to avoid it, but sometimes we can't and were in it so you write so well you know Annette pains there and were working through the valley.
You say there's two choices talk about that because growth doesn't happen. If we make the wrong choice in the middle that pain sometimes will meet a fellow saint at our church or in some context and they are a professing Christian there a true born-again believer, but you can tell that there's a certain hollowness. There is a certain artificiality to them like they're there there just painting it on. They've dialed it in and I wonder if in many of those cases, what is happened is you came to that fork in the road moment of deep pain in their life and instead of moving towards God instead of banking on him afresh ever more deeply they stiff armed him and cooled towards him and what the other way. Cynicism is what it is on rather than faith. Cynicism is the opposite of faith and therefore instead of sweetening, they soured I can testify to ways that my own dad through adversity and pain and deep mistreatment sweetened rather than soured, and I remember talking to him on the phone when he was in anguish and he said he was communicating time and again in it out of this is stress that he and the Lord Jesus were going to make it was going to be okay. He had Jesus and he was experiencing a depth of fellowship and communion. Friendship with Jesus Christ that he or none of us can when life is about of roses in joint. We just can't me when we praise God, life is going well. Thank you Lord. But when life goes south when we are fired unjustly when one of the kids says I never want to see you again when the malignant report comes back what is going on right there also are we then going to say okay I guess God isn't good. After all, maybe he actually hates me or are we going to say hang on, he already proved in the death and resurrection of his own son, which I deserve to experience that death the depth to which he is willing to go to love me.
Therefore I know that anything that washes in my life now has to be from the very gentle and tender, if painful hand of the heavenly father and we let we let God love us more deeply that he ever has before. That is what we let him do I think we all know when were at that point, when were at the crossroads I was 38 years old when my 45-year-old sister died of lung cancer and she never smoked. My parents hadn't.
She had four kids, four boys struggled in a hard marriage Batman every morning at 430. She was up reading her Bible and when she passed away hates me and I remember being at that fork thinking this doesn't even make sense. I don't like what is the point of her life being gone and I can remember being right there thinking because I couldn't see anything good in you can't explain it and you can't wrap it in this little bow with well you know God is good, even though I knew that that I remember being on the floor of my bathroom on like face down before God saying I don't understand, as you said Dane.
It was like a wave just kept tumbling. I was tumbling over and over and that way but there is a point when I remember saying I don't understand that I will follow you because I know you are good and I know I can trust you and my feelings, my happiness didn't come back immediately took a long time and I remember just soaking in worship, but I can sing my heart and my soul felt dead but I remember thinking I need to feed my soul and I need to be at this point of being in his presence for me to get that back man and it's still hard that God is good and he restores our joy. I know that every time I sat with a man or a couple that I walk away going man I want that depth of maturity. I want that dynamic relationship with God that they have every time I thought that about a person or a couple.
It's true every time 100%.
They have gone through real yet again yeah and you know it, it isn't without it it's like there where they are because they went through pain made the choice to be better not bitter and I've been around others just like you'd said Dane at their bitter they've lost their faith or mad their anger leaks and it might've been the exact same type of Valley and yet the choice in the valley is what determines what happens out of the valley and it's like yeah I want that faith but guess what guys like yeah you're not going to get it without some hard times and I'm going be with you through the whole thing.
And yet if you want to grow let's go because it's going to be not easy, but it's going to be beautiful in the end God wants us to learn to trust him in the absurdities of life. It's one thing to trust them when there's pain, but we can see what he's doing with it, but when it when there's pain and you can makes no sense.
And like you just said it makes Apsley no earthly sense. That's when he wants to say oh CS Lewis has a great line until we have faces where he says God doesn't want to give us answers when we are perplexed in life.
God wants to be the answer key is the one before whom all questions die away. So that's the kind of Christian man I want to be that I would just add if you're listening and your pain is your marriage like your listening right now and your pain is your husband or your wife or your kids in your ear probably think it's because I'm married to this person armor. No, it's not because of that is because life is hard and pain is a part of it and I just want to say hold on to Jesus. He is your only hope.
And if you will allow him to walk you through this. There is light on the other side line is actually beautiful is just hoping that you pray I can thinking something people are resonating with that pain part. We just pray for them and us absolutely. Let's pray for is our father in heaven we entrust our lives to you. We are so thankful for what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew six when he said our heavenly father knows what we need before we even speak it, and yet you are so good you want us to speak to you and enjoy that fellowship with you. Won't you take each of us into a deeper depth of fellowship trust in communion with you, so that whatever washes into our lives. It can only ultimately net out for our good and glory and growth, and deepening in Jesus name, amen they standing I'm thinking of another quote from CS Lewis is on listing today Morgan talked with David and Wilson about adversity and pain in our lives and how God uses that to mold us and to make us more like his son CS Lewis said we can ignore even pleasure but pain insists upon being attended to.
He said God whispers to us in our pleasure speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world and that something Lewis knew a little bit about having lost his wife and having to walk down that very painful path and deal with the pain of loss in his own life, and if you are in pain today. We don't want to realize that or minimize that.
But we do want to say God is present in your pain.
He has a purpose for your pain and he can accomplish great things in the midst of your adversity.
If you continue to run to him in your pain. This is something that Dane Orton talks about in the book deeper. The book that is written.
The subtitle is real change for real sinners as we think about a new year. Many of us are thinking about real change in our lives.
The Dane's book is a guidebook to help us think about, not just change behavior but change hearts, which is what God is interested in, get your copy of the book deeper from Dane Orton when you go to our website. Family life to.com or call to order at one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, amend the word today that would just hours to go before we turn the calendar and begin a new year here at family life. We are waiting to see if today is the day when we will receive the final donations we need to be able to take advantage of the $2.3 million matching gift fund that was made available to us.
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