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What Problems And Suffering Can Do - Part 2

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt
The Truth Network Radio
January 19, 2022 7:00 am

What Problems And Suffering Can Do - Part 2

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt

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January 19, 2022 7:00 am

The Lord can use your pain and suffering for his good and yours if you allow him.


Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. Take pride in it. Not only this, we exalt in our tribulations.

The word tribulation is thipsis, and thipsis means afflictions or distress and implies suffering. So boast about it if you're suffering. How many of you thought about that? Yeah, I think I should be boasting about this. Why would I be boasting about it? Because it's going to be so good for me. You see what I mean?

It's going to be good for me. We never think this. In fact, our prayer life about our own tribulation and suffering is one. Stop it, stop it, stop it.

Whatever you do, you must stop it. God's not in a hurry here. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana. Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's Word meets our world. Go with me to Romans, Romans chapter five. Romans chapter five. The chapter starts out just what Paul was talking about in context, therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. But Paul is going to change something here.

He wants to talk about something else. And that's what he does in verse three. It says, and not only this, but we also exalt in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope.

And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has given to us. It says in English we exalt in our tribulation. That's kind of unfortunate from my point of view because the word exalt is the word kauchomai. And if you look up kauchomai, you'd find out that it has a couple of ways it's translated.

And exalting is not a very exacting word. Kauchomai means to take pride in or to brag or boast about. So whenever you go through really something difficult, boast about it. That's what he's saying. Brag about it.

That's kind of a strange thing. Take pride in it. Not only this, we exalt in our tribulations.

The word tribulation is thlypsis, and thlypsis means afflictions or distress. It implies suffering. So boast about it if you're suffering.

How many of you thought about that? Yeah, I think I should be boasting about this. Why would I be boasting about it? Because it's going to be so good for me. You see what I mean?

It's going to be good for me. We never think this. In fact, our prayer life about our own tribulation and suffering is what? Stop it, stop it, stop it.

Whatever you do, you must stop it. God's not in a hurry here. In James chapter 1, you know the verse as well. Consider it all joy, my brother, when you encounter various trials. The same idea because he said, you know what trials do? Trials are a test of your faith and trials will produce endurance and endurance will make you mature. Here he says, knowing that trials bring about perseverance or endurance and endurance brings about proven character.

Proven character will give you hope. Wow. There's a lot of things you and I can suffer and what God's going to say is, and I'm just going to let it continue. And all you can do is endure it.

We don't like this, but it's true. Think of Job. How much was he suffering?

Immeasurably to us. Lost 10 children, lost all of his servants, lost all of his wealth, lost the respect of his wife, had a terrible marriage, then lost the respect of everybody in the village. He was considered the wisest man in the village. He lost everybody's respect.

Then he got so ill that he ended up using broken pieces of pottery to scrape the sores off of his body and he ended up living on the dump outside the city walls. You know what God said to him? This is good for you.

This is good for you. Really? You see, really. And that's what the book of Job's about. That's why he went through it all. Job, and remember, was Job innocent?

Yes. So what Job wanted to know is what we always want to know, right? Why? Wait, why am I going through this? God never tells him.

He challenges him because God's whole view is, look, I'm loving and sovereign. You're not going to go through anything that hasn't passed through me first. But I can tell you this, it will give you maturity. It will give you a proven character and that will produce in your life hope.

Now think of this. Hope in the Bible is future certitude. It means I'm certain what's going to happen. That's what the beautiful promise of heaven is for us. No doubt in my mind, I know where I'm going. The Bible tells me that over and over. The second coming of Christ, no doubt in my mind, it's called the Blessed Hope.

He's coming. But if I have hope, what does it produce for me now? Peace. If I have hope, I have peace. And that's what he's trying to say here.

You will have peace. He toughens him up. And what's interesting is he does it because he loves us and because he is a really, really good parent. You're his child. And he's doing this for your good. Now, I know if you're a young person, parents say that kind of stuff all the time, right?

I'm only doing this for your own good. But a good parent does. What do a lot of parents do? My child's going to face tribulation or trials. Rescue them. Got to stop it. I've got to make sure my children never experience anything negative. Wow. That's a mistake. That's a real mistake. Because they're going to go in the real world, which is cursed, and be surrounded by other sinful people.

And it's coming. And they'll have no ability to handle it at all. That's not what a real parent does. Just think about this idea of rescuing. What if Ruben, and if you read the story, Ruben tried to talk his brothers of getting Joseph out of the pit and giving Joseph back, taking him back to his father. What if Ruben would have been right? What if they had done that?

They'd have lost their lives in a great famine that was about to come. Remember, what if Potiphar had believed Joseph, which he did, but rescued Joseph from his own wife and didn't throw him in prison? Joseph would have spent the rest of his life as a slave in Potiphar's house. God had much bigger things in mind for Joseph. You see, that's what God did. He had much bigger things in mind for Joseph. So, problems can create opportunities, problems can promote maturity, and problems reveal who you really are.

Please understand this. The revelation is not for God. God never will put you through a trial so he knows where you really are. He's putting you through a trial so you'll know where you really are. You see, it reveals who you truly are, and that's hard to do.

Look at it this way. Right now, most of you are what I call relatively wonderful people. That's the church experience. You've been wonderful. You've been well-mannered.

You see, you haven't insulted anybody. You probably haven't done a lot of whining and complaining unless the sermon's too long or something like that. But really, you go out in the lobby and you wish everybody God bless you and move on.

That's a neat place. Then you go into the real world and that's a little bit different to you. And then you end up somewhere like intensive care DJ. You can't fake it there.

You can't. Who you really are is going to come true right there. Your spiritual maturity is going to be evident to you completely there.

That's the way life is. So God, in a sense with God, God wants to reveal something here. What is Joseph really like? So now go back to Genesis 50 with me for a moment. Genesis 50 and verse 19, right at the end of the book. There's some things about Joseph when you read his whole story that are interesting.

It never once in the Bible says he was afraid. Now wouldn't you think he might be? Sold as a slave. What's going to happen to me? Potiphar, the Pharaoh's executioner's wife said you tried to seduce her. He could kill me on the spot. Now I'm in prison.

Am I in this for the rest of my life? You see, he could be. He never says he's afraid. It's interesting because every phrase of Joseph's life, every phase that he goes through, it says God was with him. God was with him.

And you know what that means? He was with God. God wasn't just with him.

He was with God the whole way through. So, he finally reveals himself to his brothers. You see, he finally reveals himself to his brothers and his brothers now know who that guy is. Now please understand, it's been 15 years. People always ask me, why did his brothers recognize their brother?

Well, a couple reasons. When he goes to see Pharaoh in the not too distant future here, they make him look Egyptian. He has to be shaved.

That means his head shaved, everything shaved. He's an Egyptian. He's not a Hebrew. No one would ever mistake the two.

Secondly, he speaks fluid Egyptian by the time he's prime minister of Egypt. And so, would the brothers ever think I'm going to stand in Pharaoh's court and see my brother? I mean, not a chance that's going to happen, so they never look for him. And that's part of the beauty of the story. But at the end of it all, notice verse 19. Joseph says to his brothers, do not be afraid. I'll bet they were terrified.

Because you know what they're thinking? What would I do if I was in this spot? I know what we did. Now, what would I do if I was put in this spot? He said, I'm in God's place.

Wow. Wait, now you're, what? Yeah, I'm in God's place. How'd I get here? God sent me here.

Watch. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. He said, I know why God sent me here. To save the lives of tens of thousands of Egyptians and to save the lives of the people in Israel. He said, therefore, don't be afraid.

I will provide for you and your little ones, so be comforted. He spoke kindly to them. Wow. You see, that's an amazing thing when you think about it. That revealed what kind of person Joseph was the whole time. So don't think he sat and sulked in prison saying, I just can't believe my brothers did this. I just can't believe it. He never once has he ever victimized himself.

I can't believe his Pharaoh's wife falsely accused me like that. Kip, do we ever do that? Do you ever do that? Sure we do. And it makes it worse.

We can talk to our friends and they'll all nod with us. That's right. That's right.

You were done dirt. That's a little bit different than that. Problems reveal who you really are. The fourth thing, problems can produce and should produce dependency on God.

By the way, that's why we have problems. The worst problems that you face and I've ever faced is when you have no solution and there's nothing you can do. And I realize God put me in that situation.

Why? Come here. Just come to me. And by the way, when you can't go anywhere else, where do you end up reluctantly going?

You say, I want to come to you. Lord, I can't get up. I thought I could work my way out of anything. There are things you can't. Life is not fair.

That's the whole book of Ecclesiastes. Life is not fair. Don't expect it to be. And you and I both know something, don't we? We know life's not fair, but be honest, but you expect your life to be fair.

You do. Well, this isn't right. No kidding. I can't believe they did this. You know why they did it?

Secret. They're sinners. That's what sinful people do.

You see, that's what ends up happening to us as we go through this idea of this dependency on God. You see it all through Scripture. Daniel's in Babylon.

You know what it says? And God was with him. You never hear Daniel complain.

He's never got any fear. He's in Babylon. Paul's in prison in the New Testament. God's with him. Is Paul afraid? No. You see, not at all.

You see this over and over again. We can make our greatest impact on the basis of how we handle problems and suffering in our lives. I'll give you a few names. There's a man that's very famous to me, and I hope he would be famous to you. His name's Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent a lot of years and wrote the book The Gulag Acapelico. The communists put him in a gulag in Siberia.

Unbelievably horrifying experience. Solzhenitsyn finally got out, and he wrote The Gulag Acapelico. His influence worldwide almost beyond belief. I can remember way back in the 80s reading about him. How many classes he was addressing. The graduating class at Harvard asked him to be the keynote speaker. Now, this is a devoutly Christian man who went through a living hell, and they want to hear what he has to say.

And that was his ministry all over the world. If he had not gone to the gulag, none of us had ever heard of the guy. No one would have. How about Corrie Ten Boom? Corrie Ten Boom and her sister spend that time in a Nazi concentration camp.

And when you read The Hiding Place, you start realizing how horrible this was. But we all knew who she was. If she hadn't gone there, no one had ever heard anything. She'd have had no ministry. Johnny Erickson taught her.

Unbelievable. Here's a girl with 17 that's perfectly healthy and decides to take a dive into the Chesapeake Bay and misjudges the depth of the water and comes out of the water a quadriplegic. She was 17. She's been a quadriplegic for 55 years. Now, I want you to think about that.

Nothing from the neck down. Fifty-five years. Is that long enough for you?

Is that suffering enough for you? And then you think about what she's accomplished. Oh my. She's a master painter. She puts the brush in her mouth. And she's a master painter. She writes songs. She sings songs. She's an authorist. She writes books.

She speaks all over the world. And then in 2010, they detected she had breast cancer. So she had to have radical mastectomy, both breasts removed. Couldn't imagine that going through that as a quadriplegic. 2018, the cancer's back. Same area of her body, so she goes through intense radiation and chemo again.

2019, she gets COVID. And she said, this was so difficult for me. She said, as a quadriplegic, I have real trouble breathing anyway. And she said, so I had all kinds of labor trying to breathe. She spends a lot of time in intensive care in the hospital. It's an amazing thing to think, how do you go through this?

I would invite all of you. Go on YouTube. I mean, Johnny Erickson taught her, and she has about a three-minute response to how she handled COVID. And when I watched it, not only did I cry, but I was humiliated for myself. This woman's spiritual maturity and courage is overwhelming. It's overwhelming.

I mean, look, after 55 years as a quadriplegic, and then have both the breast removed and then have cancer, or come back and get cancer-free, then get COVID, and you think you're going to die of COVID now. No anger. None. No victimization.

None. How do you do this? You see, how do you do this? The impact of Solzhenitsyn or Corey Ten Boom or Johnny Erickson taught her is overwhelming because of what they've suffered and how they went through it, because all of us respect that. And all of us usually doubt, could I ever have done that myself?

I don't know if I could have. The last thing, problems prepare our hearts for ministry. That's what ends up happening. They prepare our hearts for ministry. We have an ability to give comfort to other people. 2 Corinthians chapter 1 says that when we go through hardship, God will comfort us. But our responsibility after we go through is to comfort others now the way God comforted us, so that we can have a ministry and help other people in that comfort.

And it's kind of an interesting thing if you think about it. If you're a cancer survivor, you have a capacity to comfort other people with cancer much greater than anybody else, because I know how you feel. You see, a cancer survivor is saying, I know how you feel.

But you're diagnosed as stage 3, stage 4. That's what mine was. Boy, I could get some hope out of that. I can get some comfort out of that. What if you had a child who died and a person came up to you and said, I know what it's like.

My daughter or my son died too. That's comfort. They've been there. They know how you feel. They know the helplessness. You see, what if you lose your mate? They have whole groups for that. They have whole groups of people that get together.

And guess what? Everyone in the group lost their mate. And they comfort one another because they know exactly how the other people feel. What if you have a severe handicap? Other people with severe handicaps could comfort you.

That's the way life works. So if you suffer through something and you come through it with the right attitude, you have an enormous capacity to help other people who are going through the same thing as you are. I know it's interesting to me that problems can create opportunities. Problems can promote maturity. Problems can reveal who you really are. Problems can produce dependency on God.

And problems, he said, can prepare our hearts for ministry. But they often don't. You see, there's one word in there. I didn't say problems are going to do these things. I said problems can. There's the word. Can. Problems can do all this in your life.

It doesn't mean it will. That choice is yours. You see, that was Joseph's. You see, that's Daniel's. That's Paul's. That's Corey Ten Boom. That's, you know, Johnny Erickson taught it. That's Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

They have phenomenal success stories. But yours might not be like that at all when you face it. You see, you and I have an enemy. And the first time you face real suffering or real problems, the first thing he wants to tell you is quit. Just quit. Just quit. Or maybe even more to another idea, and this is big in our country, victimize yourself.

Make sure you victimize yourself. Whoa, it's me. Look what happened to me. I can't believe it happened to me.

It's amazing how we do this. If I ask all you in the room, do you believe everybody in our country, anywhere in our country you go, people are going to occasionally suffer? Do you believe that? Oh, I believe that. Then it rings your doorbell.

I can't believe this happened to me. But you just said you believed it. Yeah, but I didn't think for me. And then I become a victim. You see, that is such a defeatist attitude.

We'll never be able to be used greatly by God if we have that attitude. Worse than that, if you become a victim, I can tell you for sure what you're going to become. Bitter.

You'll be bitter the rest of your life. Your identity will be to have something terrible that happened to your past. That's who I am. You see?

Now, my name's Bill Gebhardt. You know, I got to tell you something. My father never really appreciated me. What?

Yeah, that's who I am, a guy whose father never appreciated him. Like, what am I doing? You see, why do we do those kind of things?

Why do we victimize ourself by this? But in all these cases, it keeps saying God is with him, God is with him. Joseph's suffering and problems created opportunities for them. His problems promoted his maturity. His problems revealed who he really was.

His problems produced a dependency on God, and his problems prepared his heart for ministry. And eventually, by the way, that cupbearer told the Pharaoh about the dream because the Pharaoh had a dream, and no one would interpret it. And so Joseph went and interpreted for Pharaoh, and guess what eventually happened? He made him prime minister of Egypt. He told the Pharaoh that a great famine is coming, and the only way, the only way you can prepare for it is take all the surplus now and store it so you'll be able to feed your people later. And Pharaoh said, I put you in charge of everything.

So he went from the outhouse to the penthouse, from the prison to the palace, all because of the way he handled his problems and his suffering. God wants to use your problems and mine exactly like the author said, Howard Rutledge in Hanoi, for his glory and for your good, but the choice is yours. Let's pray. Father, this is a great example, but I know from my own experience and the experience of others, this is hard for us. This is a struggle for us. We find ourselves suffering or in a problem we can't solve, and boy, the flesh just screams out to us. This isn't fair.

I'll never get through. I'm angry at somebody, but that's not your will because no matter what comes our way, as Joseph said, you intend it for good. You said in Romans 8.28, all things work together for the good for those who love Christ Jesus. Father, I pray we can use this perspective because if we do, it will not only give us peace through everything that we experience, but it will also make us effective in being able to reach out with two others with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Father, I know that problems and suffering are not enjoyable, and I know none of us would wish it on ourselves, but in this world, it's a reality. May we use it for your glory. In Jesus' name, amen. And you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online. At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift.

Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word, 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana, 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, That's F-B-C-N-O-L-A dot O-R-G. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online. Or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-22 11:58:14 / 2023-06-22 12:08:48 / 11

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