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Hope Beyond Suffering: How We Can Smile Through Suffering, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2023 7:05 am

Hope Beyond Suffering: How We Can Smile Through Suffering, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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May 23, 2023 7:05 am

Hope Again: When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade

The Adam Gold Show
Adam Gold

Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll describes the sting of suffering. In life's experiences, there is one thing that draws us in common with one another, and that is pain.

There isn't a person hearing me right now who has not wept. Now, we may express our anguish in different manners, but we have all known the sting of suffering. Suffering pulls us together. For the follower of Jesus Christ, suffering comes in different shapes and sizes. For some, it's coping with a debilitating disease. For others, it's overcoming an emotional trauma. But whatever the case, suffering continues every waking hour. It's the first thing that comes to mind at sunrise, and the last thing we think about at night. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll invites us to turn with him to the encouraging book of 1 Peter.

In this uplifting New Testament letter, Peter reminds us that even in our suffering, there is hope. All people throughout the world and throughout history have one thing in common. All of us know what it means to hurt. Tears are the same, have you noticed, for Jews and Christians and Muslims alike, for people who are white and black and brown, for children, for adults, and for the older adults. We all understand what it means to hurt. Pain is the one common element that unites us together. Because pain is such a pervasive problem, we need a potent prescription. Peter's first letter dispenses the remedy by telling us how we can endure pain, how we can handle suffering, not with clenched teeth, but with a deep sense of peace and even joy.

For most, I know that sounds absolutely preposterous. The people Peter wrote to were displaced believers. They were being singed by the flames of persecution. Their circumstances were about the bleakest you can imagine. Yet Peter did not try to pump them up with a lot of positive thinking.

Instead, he took another route. He came alongside them in their suffering, gently turning their attention heavenward, allowing them to see beyond their circumstances to their celestial calling. So let's begin our study by turning to Peter's first letter, the book of 1 Peter, which is right after the book of James in the New Testament.

I want to read for you from chapter 1, the first 12 verses. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood. May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. God be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven, for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now, for a little while if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

And though you have not seen him, you love him. And though you do not see him now, but believe in him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preach the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Hope Beyond Suffering. There are really very few things all of us have in common. Even though we have the same savior and are destined for the same eternal home, in life's experiences we have very very few things in common.

Stop and think. We certainly do not all look alike, no two exactly the same. Each one of us is from a different background, different way we were raised, different set of parents, and even with the same set of parents we viewed them differently so even family members seem to feel at times a different background from one another. We work in different places and we like different things.

Our taste in music is as varied as it can possibly be. What we do for recreation is very different. We recently called two interns to join our staff for this school year and I found out rather recently that one of them loves to rock climb.

That is the last thing of interest to me personally. I told him not long ago that I felt that if God intended for an individual to be that high off the earth on rocks he should be hatched, not born. He smiled and said in return I was hatched. He had me. He loves to rock climb. I can't stand even the thought of rock climbing. We watched a movie at our summer's end conference several weeks ago and I was on the front row.

I thought I would throw up before the movie ended. It was about rock climbing and this fellow took pictures from all over this enormous climb that they made and yet some people it is the thing they live for, look forward to. Those of you who are single are single for different reasons. You choose friends for different reasons and you spend your time in different pastimes, no two of you exactly alike. Those of us who are married have married different mates, at least I hope so. We have different people we're spending our lives with. We raise our families differently. I've never seen two families raising their children exactly alike. We are different in our philosophy, different in our schooling, different in our degrees, different in the way we view academia and the whole world of reading and education and travel.

Some have hardly been out of their backyard, some can hardly remember where they were raised. We have difference in backgrounds in that way. But there is one thing we have alike. In life's experiences there is one thing that draws us in common with one another and that is pain. There isn't a person hearing me right now who has not wept. No one ever goes from birth to death without tears. Now we may express our anguish in different manners but we have all known the sting of suffering. I received a letter recently from a woman who poured out her heart to me about the agony of her divorce and she talked about living with the big D marked across her life.

The disappointment that's connected with people's treatment of her once they find out she's divorced. That's one kind of anguish. I know a woman who within a few hours will have a very painful operation without anesthesia. They will insert chemicals into a particular vital organ in her body for the purpose of dealing with the cancer that is there. They will literally pull the blood supply back and replace it with chemicals and it must be done without anesthesia. The doctor has told her that it is essential for her to go on living to have this operation but he said I have to tell you it's very painful.

She will be in surgery within hours of my speaking. She's facing another kind of anguish. I know a couple who lost a child at age one. That's another kind of anguish. Some of you have gone through the tragedy of crib death walking in on a child that's dead for no apparent reason. Others of you have lost a child through an auto accident or a dread disease or some other kind of experience that you never would have expected.

Some of you face the unhappy experience of having to deal with a wayward child and you've already gone through it perhaps and you're going through more of it. That's another kind of heartache. Suffering pulls us together. Joseph Parker, the late great preacher, once said to a group of aspiring young ministers preach to the suffering and you will never lack for a congregation. There is a broken heart in every pew. I read just this past week, be kind for everyone you face is going through a battle.

That helped me that day. Be kind because everyone you meet is going through some kind of battle. Every person in this congregation is going through some kind of battle. Every one of us.

I can assure you I am and mine are plural, not just one and I know that you are and yours are many. We have suffering in common. These things have been true down through the generations and they are true even all the way back to the first century Christians.

Maybe I could say especially true then. So it shouldn't surprise us that when Peter took up his pen to write a letter, he wrote it on that one subject that drew all Christians together on the same theme of suffering. If you have your Bible or New Testament open to 1 Peter, allow me to read the first two verses and you follow along as we observe just by way of review the one who wrote the letter and those who received the letter and some things about both.

Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ to those who reside as aliens scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia who were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood. May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. Here are many things that I love about old times. I like modern inventions and I like modern conveniences but I still like things at times to be old. I like the old way of saying things. I like old books. I like old expressions that come from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. I like the old style of writing letters where the person who wrote the letter put his name at the beginning.

Isn't that convenient? You get a seven, eight, nine page letter and you don't know the one who wrote it. You have to go all the way to the last page first and then you read the letter with the one who wrote it in mind.

In old days back in the first century people signed their letters at the beginning not at the ending. Here is Peter the man who once made his living as a fisherman who was called to be a disciple, dropped his nets with his brother Andrew and joined the band of 12 and for three or so years listened to, walked with, slept beside, ate alongside, and learned from Jesus Christ. Can you imagine what that mentoring experience must have been like? But this is the same Peter who failed and failed horribly at his hour, that time when Christ was being arrested and going to the cross Peter failed tragically and I don't think he ever lived the rest of his life forgetting fully the sorrow of his failure. This is the fisherman, this is the disciple, this is the man who failed, but this is also the one who by the grace of God was put back on track and helped establish the early church. Legend tells us that Peter died by crucifixion. A legend tells us that Peter died crucified upside down because he felt he wasn't worthy of the same death of his savior.

Whether or not that is true no one can say for sure but we know for sure that Peter ended his life as a martyr paying the ultimate price for his faith. He's calling himself here an apostle of Jesus Christ and he writes to whom? Aliens who are scattered. The recipients of the letter are scattered aliens. People who knew what it was like to be away from home not by choice but by force. Persecution had arisen. They were no longer able to stay in the familiarity of their home and they were pushed out into a world that was not only unfamiliar but hostile.

Warren Wiersbe in a fine little book entitled Be Hopeful says this about the recipients of the letter. The important thing for us to know about these scattered strangers is that they were going through a time of suffering and persecution. At least 15 times in this letter Peter referred to suffering. Some of these Christians were suffering because they were living godly lives and doing what was good and right. Others were suffering reproach for the name of Christ and being railed at by unsaved people. Peter wrote to encourage them to be good witnesses to their persecutors and to remember that their suffering would lead to glory.

I read that quickly and I'm afraid I went too quickly over the next to last statement. Peter wrote to encourage them to be good witnesses to their persecutors. It is so easy to read that it is even easier to preach it but it is extremely difficult to do it.

If you have ever had anyone mistreat you and especially if you have ever had anyone mistreat you unjustly, you know the great temptation to retaliate, to defend yourself, to fight back, to treat the other person as he or she treated you. Peter writes for the purpose of helping them gain composure and find hope beyond that unfair persecution. Let me add one more thought from Wiersbe's writings.

But Peter had another purpose in mind. He knew that a fiery trial was about to begin. Official persecution from the Roman Empire. When the church began at Jerusalem, it was looked upon as a sect of the traditional Jewish faith. The first Christians were Jews and they met in the temple precincts.

The Roman government took no official action against Christians since the Jewish religion was accepted and approved. But when it became clear that Christianity was not a sect of Judaism, Rome had to take official steps. Several events occurred that helped to precipitate this fiery trial. Paul had defended the Christian faith before the official court in Rome.

He had been released and then was arrested again. The second defense failed and he was martyred. Second, the deranged emperor Nero blamed the fire of Rome on the Christians.

That was July AD 64. Using them as a scapegoat, Peter was probably in Rome about that time and was slain by Nero who had also killed Paul. Nero's persecution of Christians was local at first, but it spread. At any rate, Peter wanted to prepare the churches. We must not get the idea that all Christians in every part of the empire were going through the same trials to the same degree at the same time.

It varied from place to place, though suffering and opposition were pretty general. Nero introduced official persecution of the church and other emperors followed his example in later years. Peter's letter must have been a tremendous help to Christians who suffered during the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, and Diocletian. Christians in the world today may yet learn the value of Peter's letter when their own fiery trials of persecution began. If in the future, God forbid, some horrible persecution break out against Christians, the letter of first Peter will be one of our most treasured documents. In it we will find comfort, consolation. It will not then be some other person who is scattered as an alien in Pontius or Galatia or Cappadocia or Asia. It will be you and me in California, and Arizona, and Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and Maine, and parts beyond.

It will be you and me. But the good news about the recipients is that we are chosen by God according to the last word of verse 1. In other words, we aren't just thrown on this earth as dice thrown across a table. We are placed on this earth and chosen by God according to his foreknowledge for a purpose by the sanctifying work of the Spirit that we may obey Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Wonderful, full words. There is a purpose for existence. There is a reason to go on. God has given us a purpose to live even though the living includes hard times. We become sanctified in a greater measure set apart for the glory of God. We gain perspective.

We grow deeper. In other words, we grow up and suffering causes that to occur. Can you imagine going through such times without Jesus Christ? And frankly, my friends, that's the way most people endure suffering. They face that difficult time in the hospital without Christ. They deal with a wayward child without Christ. They hear the awful words from a mate, I don't want to live with you any longer. I want my freedom. I don't love you like I used to.

I'm gone. They go through that without Christ. That's why for many, life is just one painful sting after another. I may shock you when I say this, but I'm surprised more without Christ don't take their lives.

I'm surprised more don't simply put an end to it all. By the grace of God, his prevailing wonderful grace, he keeps them alive in some way for us to make contact with them, to help them find purpose and meaning in the scattering and sadness of their lives. We're just getting started in a message that Chuck Swindoll has titled Hope Beyond Suffering. It's the second message in our study in 1 Peter called Hope Again.

To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at Whether it's a broken relationship or a physical disease that threatens your future, sometimes the anguish feels like it's too much to bear. In this series, we'll discover that God has given his children access to supernatural hope. Here at Insight for Living, we hear from so many people who tell us their heart-wrenching stories of suffering. Many describe their slow and steady journey to restoration and the ways that God reached out to them in their desperation.

I'm thinking of this comment we received that said, Years ago, while I was stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, a voice came across the radio that saved me from self-destructing. I had done all the wrong things, but your words from heaven carried me through. I just want to say thank you for allowing the Lord to use you.

And then he adds, I'm tearing up thinking of how short my life could have been if you hadn't been there on that cold and rainy night. Well it is such an encouragement to hear how God is using his word to restore broken lives. And when you partner with Insight for Living, you're playing a significant role in making these moments possible. Thanks for jotting down our contact information and getting in touch with us today. Your donation, no matter the size, will deeply touch someone you may never meet this side of eternity. To give a donation today, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. You can also give a donation online at It's possible you have a story to tell us too.

We'd love to hear how God has come alongside you in your lowest moments to give you hope again. And we invite you to leave your comments for us when you connect with us online at Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun, all in the company of those who share your respect for God's Word and God's creation.

Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier. When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444, that's 1-888-447-0444, or learn more at slash events.

The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his study in First Peter called Hope Again, right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond Suffering, How We Can Smile Through Suffering, was copyrighted in 1988, 1990, 1996, 2005, and 2010. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Production of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-22 14:21:20 / 2023-05-22 14:30:21 / 9

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