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January 26, 2021 3:00 am
When you go to the sufferings of life God has a purpose.
His purpose is to manifest the character of your spiritual life to everybody around you and you as well. His purpose is to humble you, because of his multitude of blessings poured out his purpose is to draw you into the intimacy of his glorious when your husband or wife, or maybe your child faces a serious illness when the job you thought would always be there disappears when life is anything but predictable and happy. What can you hold on to whatever others held onto today you will see how one hero of the faith held on during severe testing and how you can follow his example.
John MacArthur shows you what the apostle Paul learned about making sense out of suffering. As John study by that name continues on Grace to you so follow along in second Corinthians chapter 12 and here's John MacArthur. The greatest pain that we feel is that inflicted on us by other people and the closer they are to us. And the more we love them, the greater their ability to inflict pain on us and were made for relationships by God were made to enter into intimate relationships and therefore we have a high degree of vulnerability that is precisely where we find the apostle Paul when he wrote second Corinthians. He is hurt and he is hurt profoundly and he is hurt deeply deeply enough to describe himself in chapter 7 of this epistle as depressed. I really believe that it was the it was the point of Paul's deepest personal disappointment.
It was his deepest personal pain other question is what does God accomplish in the life of his own through suffering. Why did God allow this, we would assume today that if that ever happens. That's the devil that Satan that's demons operating on their own, and against the will of God, but not in this case and not always God is allowing this to happen. Why give you five reasons why God allows suffering in your life and mine number one God uses suffering to reveal our spiritual condition. Our spiritual character, God uses suffering to reveal our spiritual character. You really do not know the truth about someone spiritually.
When everything is going well right so God allow suffering to manifest our character, our spiritual character. Number two God allows our deep pain as his way to reveal our spiritual character in our spiritual condition. Secondly, God uses suffering to humble us. God uses suffering to humble us and that's what was happening to polishing Paul's greatest success was the building of these churches mean this was sort of like his life work. This was his monument to his faithfulness and the excellence of his ministry. He built the Corinthian church and now the whole thing is starting to collapse. This is a very humbling experience. But Paul needed it. Verse seven and this is explicit, and because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations.
For this reason explicitly to keep me from exalting myself. There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me in case you missed it, to keep me from exalting myself. He says it twice.
Sometimes we think about the apostle Paul. We think about a man who would seemingly be impervious to our normal struggles with the things I pride right not so you can just imagine the scenario cancer.
Paula is talking to one of his coworkers in the he says to them, how were you converted brother, always wonderful. I heard you preach.
Paul one day you preach the gospel and Lord turn my heart and I believed really well you know how I was converted I was on my way to Damascus one day in heaven opened up in a great light blinded me and I fell to the ground and the Lord Jesus himself the risen exalted Lord came down and stood by me and spoke real make a guy feel a little shabby right I mean yes and then I was blinded and the Lord spoke to me again and told me he called me to be a light to the Gentiles in.
It was quite a thing and they took me off the never to in Arabia for three years and he was my soul teacher no man taught me my gospel.
The Lord himself taught me about you thought you so little intimidating and you can imagine is a little dialogue about missionary strategy and Silas is there and maybe Timothy's their nursing will we going to this town and here's a strategy we need. Paul says well here's the strategy I think we ought employee and Silas is Paul. I disagree. I think there's a better strategy than that I like to suggest we do this and the other which is yeah I agree with him. Paul, how many times have you fellas been to heaven none good will do my plan. I mean, you know, I just the humblest of men would be exalted with that kind of experience.
Paul is not only had a trip to heaven, but he had a revelation of Christ on the Damascus road and he had a further revelation of Christ when he came to them when he was in jail and land of Israel. He had a further revelation that God gave them when an angel joined him on a ship, the Holy Spirit came to him and testified to them about chains and imprisonment. I meeting there was this is constant flow were not talking about the 13 epistles that he received by inspiration were talking about direct contact with heaven. That's enough to make the best of men proud and because of all these great revelations, he says to keep me from exalting myself was give me a thorn in the flesh, you mean to tell me that this whole mess in the Corinthian church. This whole deal over there. Why was the humble Paul that's right, you need to say that God would allow one of Satan's demons to go in a terrible church for nothing more than the humiliation of its pastor. What happened God's ways are not our ways really see Paul was a very formidable person and his humility was very important to the redemptive plan. God wanted them humble and God did what needed to be done.
For this reason, to keep me from exalting myself to bring me to brokenness, meekness, humility, which the highest virtue. Lord allowed this demon to send those false teachers and tear up the church and produce that betrayal begin. Ask yourself, do I know what I'm doing. I put my best effort into that and look it's all just kind of falling down in there turning on me and that's a very, very humbling experience. But that's the purpose of God. He wants his servants humble.
Spurgeon said you have two choices. You can either be humble or humbled. Trouble is a humbling, humbling thing. Job was like that boy. Job was just humble to choose wisely.
Just humble to ask you spent the first part of his life building up this fortune or just wipes it all out kills everybody in his family but his wife and then humbles him just unbelievable humiliation. All that had to happen because God wanted to make his point that his servant would be humble and never loses faith and then of course in his humility. Job says I repent in dust and ashes receipt and an ash pile full of repentance right where God wants us is not no trust in his flesh, no confidence in himself helpless and hopeless, clinging to the mercy and grace and power of God.
He was at the end of all his resources and then got open up the floodgates and graded greater blessing fell on him than he ever knew even before so God uses suffering to humblest and listen folks, if need be. He'll use Satan to do.
That's why so foolish for these people running around chasing demons there under the illusion that the demons respond that somehow they have authority over demons. Christ did and the apostles did nothing in the Bible indicates we do. But even if you did, you might be chasing away the demons the Lord sent you don't understand kingdom purpose, people running around binding Satan here and binding Satan there unsuccessfully I might add. It's an illusion. It might well be that if they could do that they would be interrupting the work of God for his own purposes. Allow Satan access to his own such as Job and Peter in the case of Paul to a messenger from Satan to do what he did in the Corinthian church to bring that kind of pain and sorrow and brokenness to Paul in order that that man would be humble imitation folks God blesses us. But while you're in there praying for blessing and blessing and blessing and blessing you better realize that the more your blessed the more likely you are to need to be what humble so the backside of all this blessing your pleading for may be painful enough. I was Paul and I had any choice to said Lord can do me a favor. Forget the trip to heaven and forget the thorn in the flesh, I'll just stay right where I am.
The price is a little too high. Illegal rushing in a ministry. All I want success success success except get ready.
I look at my own life and I don't I don't like these personal illustrations but is a look at my life and I see God's blessing on my life. I I just always walk in anticipation of a disaster. I do I'm never surprised I'm alive. You know what I'm almost relieved when it happens because then it will get over you know the Lord blesses and blesses and he blesses the teaching of the word. He blesses the church and he blesses the ministry and there lots of things that people don't understand people sometimes question you about this in question you about that and some things you can tell them and some things you can and and so you get a taxi you can ever answer without betraying a confidence or undermining someone else or whatever and you just hope and pray that you can stay in an even keel and continue to be used in God blesses and blesses him and you know that somewhere down the road. Your flesh is going to save look at all the success look at all this blessing and the Lord is going to have to send a messenger from Satan to drive a stake through your otherwise proud flesh right so you expected and it comes it's necessary and it's sort of a suite experience because humility is a sweet grace to taste.
Trouble does reveal our spiritual character and trouble does humble us when the best and most beloved of our accomplishments start to fall apart and we can't do anything about it. That's very humbling and it's painful but it's purposeful. One more point, God uses suffering to draw us to himself, God uses suffering to draw us to himself. Verse eight concerning this.
I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me where to go to the Lord, don't you think that might've been the purpose or one of the purposes that's the right response didn't go to Timothy or Titus didn't go to some of his buddies. He didn't go to his friends. He didn't go to somebody with an earthly formula. He didn't find a therapy to fix his pain. He didn't look for a technique he wasn't after human wisdom.
He didn't try to find the path of comfort when the delight of his life was gone. The joy of the service was lost. He didn't go to any human resource. Furthermore, it's notable he didn't start messing with the demon he didn't run over there.
The car at the chart chasing the demon he didn't bind Satan protocol or try to cast that demon out, he just went to God directly to God who controls men and demons. I entreated the word entreated is used frequently in the Gospels for the appeals of the sick. He sees himself as a man, in deep sickness here and he's crying out to God. This is a pleading banking, crying out to God. This is too painful. Lord please and may well have been that he prayed some imprecatory Psalms, like you know kill those guys over there current tell him return of your church dinner three times on three separate occasions he prayed to his Lord and he asked him to remove it. He said I can't take it. It's too painful. It hurts too much. I love them so greatly. I love the church. I love the truth.
I love the gospel. I hate false doctrine. I hate the kingdom of darkness.
I hate the demons and all their evil deception.
I can't endure this. It's depressing. I can't bear this for taking away and he prayed that it might depart, it being that thorn was just a constant thing, but the Lord didn't answer yes you know I think this is the this is the very special thing that happens in suffering. He was immediately forced into the presence of God. And that's the best place you could ever be isn't have you noticed how good times don't do that, and the severe of the trouble, the more likely you are to have an increase in your prayer life is that not true when they take your little baby in the hospital and they tell you could dye you get real serious about your prayer life. When you find out your teenagers on drugs, get real serious about your prayer life. We find out your life partner has cancer you get real serious about your prayers when you find out you're on the brink of your business going down the proverbial drain in everything you put into it.
Your life savings is essentially to be lost. Your prayer life takes another level while I think sometimes that's what God has in mind was not some few years ago.
Now that when I told you about this at the time that Mark was having headaches. Our son Mark was having headaches and we took him to get an MRI to find out what it was and they discovered a tumor down near the pineal gland near the optic nerve deep inside the brain area they sent me down to Cedars-Sinai to neurosurgeon to talk with him.
Mark and I went down and walked in the office really didn't know what to expect and walked in sat down. This is a crusty old doctor. I mean he did poke around a lot of brains. It was no big thing to him and he had long since forgone any bedside manner, so he dismissed.
He dismissed Mark from the room, under the pretense of filling out some papers and he said I didn't want them in here to hear this but this is probably fatal and I was very stone. You know what you spend so many years pouring all the best of what you have to given to the life of young person so they can live a life honoring to Christ and that's your whole goal and then all of a sudden you find out it not have a life of any kind and that you know your first thought is Lord you want to check that list again.
You sure you got the right name on this one and he said, but for the next eight days you're gonna be going over the Frank Norris cancer center over the LA County Hospital USC Medical Center going to go over there every day to be a series of tests were gonna try to determine the nature of this tumor and rep with the best guys on this and you take them over every day and at the end of that time with them tell you about the results. Boy that catapulted me immediately into intense prayer. This is my son, this is my my heart and also into fasting and prayer, I had nothing to eat for those eight days had no appetite. I was not some sacrifice. I was just lost in in importunity before the Lord and I was praying on behalf of my God and tell him this, I just said they got test for these headaches. That's all.
Will try to find out what it isn't is not known. He knew was fairly serious to be going down her eight days in a row in a kind of stuff they were sticking and even poking around and put them under but nonetheless we had these conversations back and forth but never said what what the situation was very guarded and yet we enjoy the fellowship and I thought this is probably the last I'll have my son so just poured all the richness I could into it and the prayed and fasted through the station.
Start out sort of praying Lord Sabin's parents Berryman in a few days in your saying, Lord, do whatever you want, do whatever you want. You're in the presence of the Lord incessantly unbroken even sleep is interrupted by this and finally at the interest and take him to heaven or get them out here. Why should have to endure this world anyway to committee your presence. Heaven is a better place and by the way. Take me with him will you know I mean is this is big transition that takes place.
This shift and you just spent all that time in the presence of the Lord and is just so on the eighth day it was a Wednesday evening and I I was supposed to get a report on Monday. There were gonna bring all of the guys together and they had the whole team of experts who were involved in this and they're going to give me this call and let me know the next day, Thursday morning, and so was in my office up there church and close down the office and it was just before the 730 event start around campus.
All was dark and I was sitting up there I began to feel a peace in my heart that I hadn't felt in this whole process and actually welled up into a joy in my heart and I had released him to heaven the night by Ike. I actually try to visualize them there, and presence of the Lord and I was a complete peace and there was joy in my heart and I remember it was a tearful time but I was found myself singing and then I start to feel hungry and I I wasn't sure how to break the fast and we just can't go down it in an outer summit just to to crassly noise side are just sitting there thinking, you know, I could probably eat something and then I heard a knock on my door and thing and who is that when I open the door as a leader and she said to me she said oh Pastor hope not disturbing you.
I said no.
How did you get isn't she said all I don't know why the door was open. I just came in. I hope I'm not bothering us. No, she said well you are just thinking about you and I saw your light on and thought well maybe you're hungry so I my major sandwich. She handed me a bologna and cheese sandwich and I don't know what I said probably some like you know, this sort of shock reaction and I think I said thank you. That lady had never been in my office. She never made me anything never given me anything she's never give me anything since to be honest with you, so I don't know what was going on on that one moment, but I'm standing there looking at a bologna sandwich thinking to myself.
God is so intimately involved with my prayers that when the fast is over, he delivers the sandwich that's a pretty heavy thing and I'm not mystical, but I was I was overwhelmed. I thought I was eating manna from heaven back since then. Bologna has a special place in my I went back to my desk rejoicing and ate that little sandwich in the next morning the doctors called and said well he has a benign epidermal idea which is some kind of skin down there that's inconsequential has nothing to do this. Headaches probably having headaches is because he is growing because he's the son is working out and playing baseball and whatever.
Don't worry about it we think is going to be fine. The report is all good all of a sudden everything changes because I've already sent them to heaven and I getting back you know, but I was so thrilled I went out to this rule. He was out the collagen through my arms around him and I said told him this great news and he said why do you think the Lord put me through that. I said put you through that you don't even know was going on, put me through that roof well. He probably knew more than he said and will while we embrace there and rejoiced in the Lord, you know, I realize what the Lord put me through that because it drove me to him and it taught me how intimately God is involved in answering my prayers. There's nothing more wonderful than that. This does amazing impact on your prayer life doesn't it just not only your prayer life but your praise life because now all of a sudden you realize what heaven means to you. But going to the brink is great for your spiritual life is.
I think that's what God wants Paul to discover what what happens to Paul in the midst of this, he goes to the Lord and is that we ought to be. Can't find a human counselor who can fix it.
He went to the Lord. When you go to the sufferings of life God has a purpose. His purpose is to manifest the character of your spiritual life to everybody around you and you as well. His purpose is to humble you, because of his multitude of blessings poured out upon you, and his purpose is to draw you into the intimacy of his glorious presence save the rest for next spring father. It is with a great amount of joy in gratitude that we have looked into this passage how instructive it is for our lives.
How blessed it is to know that you have a purpose in our pain and our difficulty that could never be achieved any other way, and thus we can agree with James who said count it all joy when you fall into various trials we should joyfully embrace the suffering because it has such great spiritual impact, it puts your true saving work on display breaks our pride drives us into your presence what great benedictions. Those are. We pray now that you confirm these great truths to our heart and may we live them out to your honor, and glory in our Savior's name and with that John MacArthur wraps up today's look at making sense out of suffering. That's the title of his current study here on grace to you that you know John as you spoke today about the bleak prognosis doctors gave your son Mark some years ago that may have surprised the number of listeners. People might assume that because you study the Bible and teach so much you'd be impervious to the times of testing that other Christians face. Oh, I live in the same world everybody lives in and I'm a fallen person and all the people around me are fallen, and so all that goes wrong in the world goes wrong. Also in my world and in my life but I have an anchor III literally live on the rock and for me that anchor and that rock is what I know to be true about God. I have spent so many years studying the word of God and coming to the fullest knowledge of God that I don't question God, I don't question his wisdom.
I don't question his power.
I don't question his purpose. I don't question his love or his affection for me of the people in my world. The only question I ever ask is God. What is your purpose in this. What is your will. I don't deserve anything other than suffering. None of us deserves anything other than suffering by just want to know the purpose.
I just want to know the reason and when Mark was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the doctor told me this could kill him.
My immediate thought was were you doing Lord what's your purpose, what you trying to accomplish. I know he loves you. I know he serves you.
I know he wants to live his life for you.
Show me your purpose and I went from there to Lord its normal and natural for me to pray for his physical well-being.
To pray that you would spare his life so that he could serve you and those were the things on my mind. God was gracious God spared his life. The tumor was not terminal and to this day. He continues to serve the Lord, but the questions in my mind were Lord, what is your purpose and would you be gracious I played in my prayers to spare his life. It would be for your glory. I think those of the things that you can pray for when you stand in the rock of confidence in God's purpose in God's power, right, and friend. It's the kind of trust that John just described trust that grows as you mature in Christ that allows you to make sense out of suffering. With that said, to encourage you in the trials you face. John study on making sense out of suffering is available on two MP3s or two CDs get your copy when you contact us today.
You can download this firstname.lastname@example.org and in fact all of John's sermons about 3500 of them are available free of charge to email@example.com and if you'd like. Making sense out of suffering on CD. Perhaps a gift to someone is hurting order. The two firstname.lastname@example.org or you can order by calling 855 race. That's our toll-free number 855 race also noted we would love to hear how John's verse by verse. Teaching is encourage you. Maybe today's lesson was timely encouragement for a trial you're dealing with poor perhaps a recent message help you apply biblical truth that you never really understood before. If God is use these broadcasts in your life. Let us know when writing to Grace to you. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 or you can email us at email@example.com that's firstname.lastname@example.org now for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you staff, I'm Phil Johnson be here tomorrow when John looks at the incredible grace that God gives to believers so that we can deal with trials, join us for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to