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How God Uses Suffering, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 28, 2021 3:00 am

How God Uses Suffering, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 28, 2021 3:00 am

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John MacArthur

Paul says the dominant theme in my life is suffering first and sums it up.

Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions and difficulties for pricing because when I'm weak, then I'm strong. That's the way to look at life and again I go back to the fact that this is the cornerstone of Christian living. Life is full of trouble and it's your perspective on some of it is the bottom line issue here may not know that the writer Horatio Spafford wrote the lyrics at a terribly difficult time. He had just lost his children who had been on a ship that sank. What was it that gave Spafford the strength to say it was well with his soul. Despite such a heartbreaking loss and where can you find that sort of strength in your own hard times, how do you make sense out of suffering. That's John MacArthur's focus in his study on grace to you titled making sense out of suffering.

Today John considers the example of Paul who, except for Christ probably suffered more than anyone else in Scripture and yet Paul understood that making sense out of suffering was a glorious possibility for Christians and so with a lesson. Now here's John MacArthur through the suffering and the terrible depression and sorrow of unfulfilled on the broken heartedness in which Paul was was literally being shaped. He learned five great lessons and that's were looking at. Remember lesson number one God uses suffering to reveal our spiritual condition we saw that in verses five and six. I will go over again.

Simply the fact is it somebody wants to see what you're really like and the truth must be known and let them see you in your deepest sorrow and your greatest pain and suffering, and therein will come out the character that is really there so it was time for Paul to demonstrate his credentials. The Lord wanted the world to see what this man was made of every reason then to cause him to suffer because it was in suffering that the truth would be manifest what you are comes out in suffering and Paul says you can look at me in verse six of the end of the verse and you can judge me, credit me with what you see in me and hear from me that's the proof of the pudding in the midst of the sufferings. What kind of man do you see secondly God taught him that he uses suffering to humble us. Verse seven. Twice he says to keep me from exalting myself. There was given me his thorn in the flesh.

Paul, as he says in Colossians 2 would not take his stand on visions like so many do. He said I did go to heaven. I did have a vision I went to heaven. I came back from heaven. But that's not helpful, because all that does is puff up my pride and so the Lord is to bring along these terrible things in my life to humble my otherwise proud heart. God wants us meek and God wants us humble and he will even use Satan and his demons. If necessary, and he will even use trouble in the beloved church.

If necessary, to humble his servant. When you are going through suffering.

Remember it is here that your spiritual condition is manifest. It is here that you can come to grips with what you really are in Christ and deal with it and it is here that others can see the true character of your faith.

Remember also that in your suffering. You are humbled you are broken and when you become broken and contrite. Of course, you become useful to God and he gives Gracie says to the humble. Thirdly, Paul learned that God uses suffering to draw us to himself.

Verse eight. What he do he went to the Lord three times to pray, he drew into the Lord's presence to call on the Lord to deliver him from this and this is the right place to go. What lesser sources do men find when they can go to the living God.

He faced many trials he knew where to go, because therein could he find the strength and wisdom necessary. Point number four.

God uses suffering to display his grace now or in diverse nine and he has said to me, my grace is sufficient for you. He went three times and three times he got the same answer. Paul I hear you. I know you're asking for the thorn to be removed. I know you're asking for. The messenger of Satan to be removed. I understand all of that. I'm sorry. However, I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to turn up the grace standing answer. God answers not by removing the pain because the pain was productive, not by removing the trouble, because the trouble was productive. It really showed the true man and it humbled him and it drew him to God. And so God says I'm not going to remove that the processes and over.

But what I am going to do is increase the grace so that you can endure it gave relief. God give relief not by removal but by sufficient strength to persevere through the necessary humbling process. In those times is when God pours out the greater grace in those times. Sometimes you find yourself with an exhilarating joy.

I can't. I can't them say it any better than to say in the way that it didn't and in exit 16, where Paul is in stocks in his arms are stretched and his legs are stretched, so the muscles are taught and locked in the stocks in these Therein excruciating agony and Paul and Silas are in that condition and you go in the jail and you hear them doing what singing where they sing because they have been given sufficient grace to endure it and you're never going to know that grace if you don't have the exigencies of call for it.

Never going to know that grace never going all the joy of that grace and the exhilaration of that grace until you have to have that grace sure from a human standpoint.

Bosses get that steak out of my flesh get that agony out of my heart it's it's depressing, mean it's crushing me and it's breaking me the gotchas are not going to get it out of them and leave it there was gonna crank up the grace in the midst of the grace going to give me glory and you're going to endure and people going to see the greatness of your God and the strength of your faith. First Corinthians 1013 remind you of this. There is no trial the lever come upon you but such as is common to man.

God is faithful, who will never let you be tempted above that you are able and will with the temptation make a way of escape, but the Lord will bring trials in your life that you can endure. He will give you the grace to endure them, so that in the enduring you experience the great grace. What an exhilarating what a joyous joyous experience that is Deuteronomy 3326 puts it this way there is none like the God of gesture under the God of Israel who rides the heavens to your help.

Joshua 19 be strong and courageous.

Don't tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go, God will always be there.

He'll always be writing your help, ready to just unload gushing grace so that you can endure whatever it is that your suffering only a couple of verses out of Isaiah 43. Listen to this verse one. I have called you by my name you are mine.

God says when you pass through the waters, I'll be with you and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.

When you walk to the fire. You will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you, for I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior, God doesn't promise no waters and no rivers, no fire just promises to be there when were going through and the graces there poured out on us in abundance in a first Timothy 114 pulses the grace of our Lord was more than abundant while more than abundant folks, get this, would you please. Here is the cornerstone of Christian living. Here is the cornerstone of Christian living is is simply this, listen carefully, you will have trouble in this life.

It is inevitable and it is useful because it produces the evidence of your true spiritual condition. Humility and intimacy with God and allows God to put himself on display in his grace. This is the cornerstone of Christian living folks.

You will have trouble.

God does not promise to remove it, but he does promise to pour out enough grace to endure it. The word sufficient.

There in verse nine is RK it's enough, you'll have enough grace, you will have trouble. You will have difficulty, you will have temptation you will obtain a disappointment. But God promises not to take away all that see that is that that's the current contemporary lie, but God wants your life to be happy and peaceful and comfortable and successful in satisfactory and prosperous. And it's the devil who wants all the bad stuff you want to know the truth. It's the devil who would like to make your life prosperous and successful and happy and tranquil because then you would need God, and you wouldn't have to thank him for anything, the prosperity message is the devil's message God's message is a message of suffering and grace. God wants us humble and uses suffering to humble us. God wants us intimate with him and he uses suffering to make a sentiment with him. God wants our testimony made manifest. He wants her character on display and uses suffering to reveal it in the greatest testimonies of Christians ever have in history is when they're persecuted and the persecution of the saints, the blood of the martyrs becomes a seed of the church, God will crank up the grace in your life and you will crank up enough grace for you to be able to endure songwriter put it this way, he giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater descenders, more strength when the labors increase in other words, you get as much as you need and more to added affliction he had at his mercy, to multiplied trials is multiplied peace. When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength has failed or the day is half done. When we reach the end of our hoarded resources our father's full giving has only begun.

His love has no limit his grace has no measure is power no boundary known on demand for out of his infinite riches in Jesus he giveth and giveth and giveth again God just wants to flood you with grace and there's always plenty in his inimitable way. Charles Spurgeon was riding home one evening after a heavy day.

It the church a day full of work and hardship and some disappointment. He was feeling depressed in his biographer says he thought about the verse, my grace is sufficient for you, and in his inimitable way. He immediately compared himself to a little fish in the Thames River. Apparently last drinking so many pints of water in the river each day. It might drink the Thames dry feeling insecure. In that event only to have father Tim say to a drink away little fish. My stream is sufficient for you. The biographer says and then he thought of a little mouse and the granaries of Joseph in Egypt, afraid lest it might also die by daily consumption of the cornet needed it feared it might exhaust the supplies of all the corn and all of the silos and started and then Joseph came along and sensing them. The mouse is fierce at Europe little mouse my granaries are sufficient for you, or again he thought of himself as a man climbing to the top of the Alps reaching the lofty Summit and Reading to take a breath lest he might exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere, only to hear the creator say breathe away old man. My hair is enough for you. There's enough and more than enough and plenty, and you never going to know it and you never know the exhilaration of it, and oregano. The thrill of it unless you can just rest in the suffering and let God pour out the grace and you find yourself singing at the strangest places and times and you'll find a piece in your heart that knows no explanation and you find joy that's disconnected from your circumstances. Because this grace is an energy that transforms it's not in itself a static gift. Grace is an energy the changes you. It's an energy of being flooded with blessing from God that alters your thinking changes you transforms you. Yes, Paul was in his deepest suffering. But God was using it to put his grace on display and that turns you into a worshiper doesn't. And God wants you to worship him and you couldn't fully worship him, you wouldn't know the abandonment of joy in the abandonment of heart, the Paul and Silas know in the jail unless you had sufficient grace in the midst of dire suffering people who worship God most deeply are those who been through the deepest water and have been flooded by his grace one last point, God uses suffering to perfect his power, God uses suffering to perfect his car.

God wanted Paul not just to be humble man, not just to be a man of prayer and intimacy with God. Paul was not only to be a man of suffering, so the God could displace grace, but God wanted met this man to be powerful. God wanted this man to be used to change the world. God wanted and the impact individuals and families in cities and nations, and so we come back to verse nine power is perfected in weakness.

God said to them when he answered that person.

My grace is sufficient in the second part of what power is perfected in weakness.

I not only want you to go through this so I can put my grace on display, but I want you to go through this so there's nothing of you left.

I want you whittle down to nothing. I want you down.

I want you down to the point where you have no self-confidence. You have no trust in yourself or you have no self-esteem in the sense that you believe your you're capable of anything eternal. I want you broken down and I mean he broke him down you go back to Romans chapter 8 end and remember Paul talking about tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness peril sword. Then he says it know they've come after me, the Angels, the principalities, the things present the things to come. The powers, the height, the depth and nothing can separate me from the love of God, he says in Romans chapter 8, but it all had come at it and he was basically broken down the mean. You remember part of the accusation against women in the Corinthian church was that he was weak and he was he was contemptible and he lacked charm and charisma and oratorical skill and all of that in he had been pretty well hammered down to nothing. It was the suffering that crushed out his pride and crushed out his self-confidence made him powerful BC when the Christian gets to the place where he is lost all human ability to deal with his difficulty got nowhere to go, nowhere to go when you realize you're weak when you realize you can't fix it.

Paul could fix it.

He could fix it.

He been there.

He visited he sent people. He wrote letters he couldn't fix it and the rumors were getting further and further spread around about him lies about his life. He was a wicked man. He couldn't do anything about it and there he was with nothing but God, and that was enough. He had to trust God's power and he'd been persecuted mercilessly. He been battered and hammered. He had not only found sufficient grace, but he found that when he was finally crushed down to nothing. He became powerful BC when you're human wisdom's out when you're human confidences out when you're human ingenuity is out when your solutions to the problems are out when you have nowhere to go and nowhere to turn but God you are now in a position to be most effective. I'll put it this way, no one in the kingdom of God is too weak to be powerful, but many are too strong. Many are too strong.

First Corinthians 127 God's chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise God's chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things are strong. The base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen the things that are not God loves to work through nothings and nobody's, and then he gets all the glory as he rightly deserves pulses when I came to you I was in weakness, fear and trembling and no-confidence weakness, fear and trembling.

He didn't come in thinking himself some great man with some great message and some great power in his life and parading himself around as if he were became inferior.

He came and trembling became in weakness, he had had visions of Christ, you get a trip to heaven and back. He never talked about it. He just spoke of his weaknesses.

But when he was no longer able to do anything then God was able to do everything you see physical suffering, mental anguish, disappointment on fulfillment failure creates a pressure that produces power. It really does because he just squeezes everything out of us so that we become nothing but a clear channel through which the power of God can flow. Paul learned he really did learn all his lessons in the middle of verse nine he says. Most gladly. He's happy now circumstance hasn't changed.

Nothings changed circumstantially, but most gladly.

He says I'm happy now, and I'd rather boast about my weaknesses, the power of Christ may dwell in me.

I'd rather be powerful than anything else in order to be powerful have to be weak. I just want to talk about my suffering.

I don't love the abuse. I know it's satanic I don't honor that. But I do know that God is using all of this to make me the man he wants me to be and I love his grace and I love his power and I love the humbling process and I love the intimacy with him because I understand what a produce so let me post thesis writ of compare notes and see who's the real apostle.

Let me most all boast about my weaknesses goes back to that again as he has every time he's done it several times as we've noted, always wanting to boast about his weakness because it was in his weakness that the power of God was seen look at me. He's saying you can explain my life. You can explain my effectiveness. You can explain my ministry, except for the fact that I'm weak and he is strong because you know I'm not sure. He says I just want the power of Christ. His weakness was not self-induced it was God-given. It was not official was a psychological game he was playing with himself. It was God-given weakness. He had been literally crushed by God so that he could be powerful.

So when we have the deepest troubles in life we go through these things go through those times of unfulfilled relationships and broken heartedness and unsatisfied desires and we suffer from those who should love us the most. Remember God is at work. The world can't fix it and probably shouldn't because God is using it to reveal your spiritual character, to humble you to draw you to himself, to put his grace on display and make you powerful. So Paul says the dominant theme in my life is suffering. Verse 10 sums it up. Therefore, therefore, here's the summation I'm well content with weaknesses well. Content means unsatisfied folks, I am satisfied.

I'm at peace on that rest I'm content great word. I am content. Perfect contentedness with weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions and difficulties for Christ sake is not talking about the things a come as a result of our sin and iniquity, and disobedience know he's talking about those things that come for Christ sake their undeserved sufferings and persecutions that are connected to our sins, he wouldn't be happy about his chastening he would be happy about sins. He sees not saying that he's saying I'm content with all those sufferings that come when I'm faithful to the Lord because when I'm weak, then I'm strong he wisely embraced his pain.

He wisely embraced his suffering as hard as it was because it was in that weakness that Paul died in is when Paul died, the Christ really lived. That's the way to look at life and again I go back to the fact that this is the cornerstone of Christian living. Life is full of trouble and it's your perspective on trouble.

That is the bottom line issue here. Running all over the place to have your trouble fixed isn't the answer being obedient to the word of God and letting God do his perfecting work in your life.

That's the answer. You embrace your suffering. Like Paul did you be content with it.

You be thrilled with it. You sing hymns of joy to God for it.

You counted all joy, because it's having a perfecting work a few years ago song was written that really says I'll close with this call the refiner's fire. Listen carefully to the words, there burns a fire with sacred heat white-hot with holy flame and all who dare pass through its blaze will not emerge the same sum as bronze and some is silver some is golden with great skill. All are hammered by their sufferings on the end goal of his will.

I'm learning how to trust his touch to crave the fires embrace for though my past with sin was etched his mercies did he race each time his purging cleanses deeper.

I'm not sure that I'll survive. Yet the strength and growing weaker keeps my hungry spirit alive in this great chorus.

The refiner's fire has now become my soul desire purged and cleansed and purified, that the Lord be glorified. He is consuming my soul refining me making me whole. No matter what I lose, I choose the refiner's fire and when you can come to the point where you say that you've reached a level of maturity and a grasp of the Christian life no matter what I may lose I choose the refiner's fire refiner's fire has become my soul desire because I want to become weaker so that he may become strong revealing your spiritual character, humbling you draw you to himself, displaying his grace demonstrating his power that happens through your stuff.

Embrace it and let God do his refining. This is grace to you with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John study has been showing you how to find genuine profound peace even when you face trials. It's titled making sense out of suffering. You know John from what we seen these past few days.

It's obvious.

The question we should ask ourselves is not. Will I ever enter a dark valley but when will I enter it and how will I respond yeah I think that's very important.

We need to live in anticipation of it. Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation trouble you remember what Job said man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward. You know, as surely as the sparks of a fire.

Go up.

So inevitable is trouble in the life of man, then we shouldn't expect to avoid it. After all, we live in a fallen world and we ourselves are fallen and surrounded by fallen people.

We live in a cursed world everything is not going to go the way we wanted to go in making sense out of suffering means you gotta turn to the word of God and you gotta go to the source of life and the solution to trouble, which is the Lord himself. That's what we tried to help you do in this wonderful series.

We've been looking at second Corinthians 12 which shows us all how to face the most painful issues of life and be triumphant and joyful in the midst of that we looked at five purposes that God has in our affliction. Now all of this that we been covering is available in a two CD album really important for everyone to know these truths. MP3s are also available and can be downloaded off our website but you can order the two CD album today from Grace to you, reasonably priced, that's right, young or old, married or single, rich or poor.

You will face trials in your life. In this study can help you get through the unavoidable and even thrive as a result, the purchase John series making sense out of suffering onto CDs.

Contact us today our toll-free number is 855 grace and our web address TTY.org. The two CD album is a great gift for a loved one who struggling or you can pick up a copy for your church library. Again, the title to ask for making sense out of suffering. Call us at 855 grace or go to our website TTY.org and if you'd like to download the messages right now on MP3 or the transcripts you can do that for free@tty.org and in closing, let me say thanks for supporting Grace to you financially.

We are able to broadcast on radio in this community and hundreds of others just like it because friends like you stand with us to help connect people like you with biblical teaching that changes lives. You can make a tax-deductible donation when you call 855 grace or go to our website TTY.org and as always, thank you and thank you especially for your prayers now for John MacArthur on Phil Johnson encouraging you to come back tomorrow for a practical look at the purpose of trials. Join us for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on a skiing


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