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Unstuck - Overcoming Unjust Suffering, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2024 5:00 am

Unstuck - Overcoming Unjust Suffering, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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January 29, 2024 5:00 am

There are four things, four principles, you must remember when you’re experiencing unjust suffering. Chip reassures us, by sharing how to apply those four principles, from Ephesians Chapter 3.

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There are four things that you need to remember when you're experiencing unjust suffering. Four things you need to know when everything in your world is falling apart.

I'm going to cover those four things in just a minute. Stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international teaching and discipleship ministry motivating Christians to live like Christians.

Well, in just a minute, we'll continue our series, Unstuck, Overcoming the Pain of Your Past. But before we get going, if you've missed any part of this series, catch up through the Chip Ingram app. It's a great way to listen to Chip and Living on the Edge anytime. Okay, go in your Bible to Ephesians chapter three for the remainder of Chip's talk, Overcoming Unjust Suffering. Now he's going to say the purpose of the church is education and access. What he's going to say is this supernatural community of Jew and Gentile connected to Christ the Head and this Savior. And he's going to have this bride that he's preparing. And he's going to come back and he's going to say this church has a purpose in this little time on the earth. And he says what he's going to do, it's going to educate a certain group and it's a very unusual group. And it's also going to provide a new access that's not going to be about bulls or goats or temples or priests or ritual or rules.

You're going to have access. Notice what he says here, the purpose of the church. His intent, very interesting, that translates one little word.

It's hina. It means a purpose clause. In other words, for this purpose, it's very, very clear. He says his intent was that now through the church, the manifold wisdom of God, and the word manifold is like the variations of layer upon layer upon layer of the all-knowing, all-wise, how wonderful God is, should be made known to whom? To the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

He's speaking of angels. According to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ our Lord. In him and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom. It means with courage, with boldness, with freedom of speech, and with confidence.

And the word confidence there has the, mean right of access. And so he says don't be discouraged. I have the privilege, listen to this, the privilege of suffering for Christ that angels may learn things about God that they could never know without the church. And so that we as his followers could draw near with a level of intimacy and access like never before. When the apostle Paul thinks of this mystery that he's a steward of, his role of preaching it and bringing it to light, and the ultimate purpose coming, I mean can you imagine as just a regular Joe trying to kill people one day, getting knocked down, meeting Jesus, taking seminary in Arabia somewhere, feeling like you were lost and getting humbled over here, getting picked up by Barnabas and saying you know what I think you're worth something, I think God's got a plan. And then you end up with this little church in Antioch where people are first called Christians and you're just praying and fasting with a handful of guys and God says set apart for me Paul and Barnabas and you know goes on this missionary journey and all of a sudden he goes on one and two and three and he ends up in jail. And if we were in jail we'd be telling God this is unfair and I stepped out and you know I'm doing this for you and I don't understand why you're treating me like this and now two thousand years we look back. So we get thirteen books of the New Testament written by who?

And where did he write the majority of them? Can I go on record to say I'm glad he was in prison? Can I go on record to say that the gift of suffering for the sake of the church and the gospel was to my benefit and yours and to theirs? And that Paul is giving us a model of why not to be discouraged when an injustice and life's not fair in a fallen world where there's spiritual opposition if indeed there is an all sovereign all knowing God whose purposes cannot be thwarted and he will use suffering as a grace gift in your life even when people do it with such evil intent if you don't bail out on the process. And in the midst of your suffering he may produce an intimacy with him that you could have never known and he may produce a testimony and a conduit of grace through you that others may have never seen. See it's like he gives us a whole new set of glasses to think about suffering. The apostle Paul's perspective on suffering at least from my perspective is radically different than how my mind ever goes. And I'm glad for Paul and I'm glad if I was a gentile I think I'd be high fiving one another.

I would not be discouraged. You know Paul's in prison but it's okay by me, it's okay by Paul, it's okay by God but you know what I got news for you. He didn't solve my frank problem. And so what I think we need to do now is say okay that was God's very clear truth about unjust suffering from the apostle Paul to the Ephesians church in the first century. Now what we need to ask is what is the timeless application of that truth to us in the 21st century because I've just been around you all long enough to know there's people in this room that are really going through some very very difficult times that you didn't cause.

And I don't know why, I'm not going to presume whatsoever to know why. But some of you are sitting here tonight going well you know what if you had more time get that microphone out again and we'll pass it around. And I got a frank story. What do we do as followers of Jesus because I can tell you this for probably a year and a half I was stuck. I perfunctually prayed.

The joy in my life was gone. I read the Bible because I was actually so warped in my theology I thought something worse might happen to me if I stopped. But I mean it was like I'm serving a God who's capricious and takes your best friend out. Bible says he's good. God says he's loving. He's not good to me.

Not loving to my friend. And so I kind of, no pun intended, I'm living with a chip on my shoulder. And some of you get that a little faster than others. And I think God has something in this passage for those of you to break out of being stuck about the pain of some unjust suffering. There's four principles to remember when you're suffering unjustly. Number one, we are not victims.

That is so easy to get there, isn't it? How could this happen to me? This is so unfair. I mean I gave generously and now I'm upside down financially. You know we were committed. We were in church. We took them to church. We put them in a Christian school and how in the world could my son or daughter go off and do what they did and this is unbelievable. Or you know God, we have walked with you and we had this dream together and you know I think we taught not just Sunday school class but like we did junior high group for like 10 years even after our kids were gone.

And then we finally made it and we saved and we had this dream and then my wife got cancer and she was dead and now I'm alone. God where are you? How could you? It's very easy to become a victim.

Pull back the lens. Paul, does he say I'm a prisoner of Rome? Does he say I'm a prisoner of Nero? He says I'm a prisoner of Christ.

Isn't that interesting? He said I'm in these chains because of Jesus. Because of Jesus.

It's not the false accusations of the Judaizers. It's not the Roman government. He said I'm here because here's what Paul knew. God is absolutely sovereign. That means he's in control. God is good and God is loving and God is all wise. And good means he always has your best in mind. Sovereign means anything that comes into your life is either decreed or allowed by him.

Wise means he brings about the best possible end by the best possible means for the most possible people for the longest possible time. So if there was an easier, gentler, better way for his will to be worked out in your life, you'd be experiencing that kinder, gentler way than what you're getting. So if he's all wise, good, sovereign, faithful and all powerful and can do whatever, whatever you get in your life and whatever I get in my life, a sovereign God has either allowed or decreed for my good. It's a faith issue.

At some point I had to decide is God good or capricious? And when I began to read through, I was a little slow, so like the big part of the book, the Old Testament, I had to read through the New Testament two or three times as a new Christian before I wanted to tackle the big one. But when I got into the Old Testament, I read Genesis and I've always been kind of a numbers person, so you know Abraham gets so many verses and you know Isaac, he didn't get a whole lot of verses but he's pretty important and Joseph gets 13 chapters. That's 13 chapters, there's only what, 50?

I mean do the math. I mean one guy gets 20, 25% of the whole book and the story of Joseph is God chooses a man, he has a purpose for a man, in his sovereign purposes he allows this man to be betrayed by his brother, sold into slavery, falsely accused, after falsely accused, forgotten in order to rise to the second most powerful position in all the earth to save all of the promises and the agenda of God of hundreds years past and what would happen in the future. And what Joseph understood in chapter 50 when his brothers never did quite get it thinking after dad dies he's probably going to knock us off, sort of the Ingram translation of that whole passage, and Joseph turns to his brothers, now I think in dismay, you meant it for evil but God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. And here's what I can tell you, suffering stinks and it's really hard but the phrase as you study Joseph's life is this little phrase, and the Lord was with Joseph, and the Lord was with Joseph, and the Lord was with Joseph, and you see this attitude of trust because he keeps helping people. And you know the Bible's pretty honest, when people whine and have a victim mentality, you know the Bible kind of is pretty clear about when people do bad stuff, Joseph understood that God was in control. Joseph forgave his brothers. Did he have to go through the process of wounds and hurts and betrayal?

Were there nights where he's looking out of the bars and going, you know, what's with these guys? I told them what would happen, they forgot me, or God, I mean can you imagine this? I'm a young man with hormones, I'm sexually pure, and this woman is after me, and I resist, and now I'm in prison for a false accusation of rape?

I mean what a raw deal. But there's a reason why God gave him 13 chapters, and it's why almost every core doctrine is in the book of Genesis, the seeds of it. Because he wanted all of us to know that when you walk with God, there's going to be times where you get betrayed by people who love you. There's going to be times where you end up in a pit. There's going to be times where you are falsely accused. There's going to be times where you help people and you're forgotten and you're not rewarded. And he wants you and me to remember when you have unjust suffering, when you're a child of God, you may be going through a rough time, but you are not a victim. You're not a victim.

You're his son, you're his daughter. For you have need of endurance, the writer of Hebrews would say in chapter 10 verse 36. For once you have done the will of God, you might receive what is promised. And the word, for you have need of endurance, that word perseverance or endurance is hupo meno.

Hupo means to be under, meno means under stress or pressure. And what happens, as we'll see, under stress or pressure and difficulty that is so unfair, what do you do when you're experiencing that? You either get bitter and mad and close your Bible and whine and become a victim, or in tears you usually say, I don't know where I need to read right now, but I think the only place I can really go is the Psalms. And you cry your way through the Psalms. And you recognize that other people have been here before and God understands.

And the goal is not for your life to turn out someday. All you got to do is make it to like maybe one o'clock today. And then after one o'clock today you pray maybe you can make it till dinner time. And then the nights are terrible. And that digital clock, you know, it's 1-11, 2-04, 3-03, and you have those nights. And you put on worship music and you wonder at times whether you'll ever, ever make it through this. And if you get around a place like this, there's some people that have lived longer and they have hupo menoed their way through losses and pain and injustice. And isn't there sort of a tenderness and a sweetness and a maturity and a love to their life that you'd really like to have? Can I tell you how they got it?

It wasn't because they had everything go right. We're going to see the second principle is that until we understand what God is up to in the world, we will never understand what He's up to in our world. See, unconsciously what we have done to the gospel by and large is we've basically made God our self-help genie and said this is my world, this is my agenda, and you know, I want these biblical principles and of course I love you Jesus, but the goal is make my life work and make it work well. I want to be happy. I want to be upwardly mobile. I want to be healthy. I want my kids to be great.

All those desires are fine, but here's the deal. Unconsciously I'm the center of the universe and God is my servant. What's wrong with that picture? Everything. There's a lot of people that are very upset with God because He's not quote fulfilling promises and they've believed and done certain things and guess what? It's His world. It's His story.

I think you put those together you get history. It's not your story. It's not my story.

You know what the Apostle Paul realized? I'm a murderer. You know what I deserve?

I deserve to go to hell is what I deserve and by the rich mercy of the Savior He not only forgave me but allowed me to be a steward of the secret that's been hidden in God before all generations and I get to be a conduit and I'm going to whine about being in chains and for this little time knowing that forever and ever and ever I'm going to be with Him. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and Chip will be back in just a minute to finish today's talk, but quickly this program is only possible because of the generosity of listeners like you. Consider supporting us today by becoming a monthly partner. Learn more by going to livingontheedge.org.

That's livingontheedge.org. And thanks for doing whatever God leads you to do. Well, let's rejoin Chip now for the remainder of his message. See when you begin to understand what God's up to in the world, then you begin to reinterpret your world. So what's God up to in the world?

I mean you can jot this down. He's up to Matthew 28 verses 19 and 20. That's what He's up to.

He's up to lost people being found. He's up to found people growing to maturity and He's up to mature people reproducing their life. That's what God's up to for every single person on the face of the earth. So how does this suffering impact the Great Commission? How does this suffering impact my network and people who don't know Christ? How does this suffering impact those who do know Christ and are watching me go through it?

How does this impact God reproducing the life of Christ in me? Frank, a few years later, he helped me work through my process and he was in a wheelchair by then. He later, by the way, it's just an amazing story, he later finished up school, became a wrestling coach. He had over 20 different operations, bedsores, everything imaginable, actually later got married. He now teaches chemistry in a high school and he's a wrestling coach. Here's what I tell you about Frank.

He can roll out of that chair and he can't move anything, but you do not want to mess with him if you're one of his wrestling boys. And I remember just, you know, whining about how angry I was about his situation. And you know this is like one of those priceless, he looked at me and he said, Chip, I can say this honestly. I was a pretty cultural Christian and I was just starting to grow a little in our Bible study. He said, what has happened to me, what it has done in my relationship with Jesus, I would rather be in this chair where I'm at with him now than I would be where I was without him. And I don't know about you, but I can hardly fathom that. But you know, isn't that really a guy going, yeah, do I want my legs?

For sure. But even with your legs, what do you get, maybe 70 years, maybe 80, maybe a shade more versus what are you going to do with forever? See, the Apostle Paul is always asking, what are you going to do with forever? And why are you here? And what's your role in why you're here?

Third principle here is that until we understand our role in his plan, from verses seven through nine, we'll forever be frustrated with God's failure to fulfill our plans. Let me say that again until you understand your role. In other words, what are you supposed to do? What are you called to do? What are you gifted to do? What's your mission? What's your calling? Why did he put you on the earth? I mean, more than just sort of a generic love people, share the gospel when I can, get a good job, raise a good family.

Okay, yeah. Now, specifically, what are you here for? What assignment has your name on it? What Paul was saying is, I understood my role as a servant.

Mine was, very, he said what? I'm to preach and I'm to make plain this administration of this mystery. God's agenda, not my personal peace, comfort, happiness, or prosperity, is what I need to understand. And then I need to understand what's my role in his plan, rather than how I convince God to fulfill my plan.

And boy, that's a game changing truth. And by the way, I think it's a journey. I think as you mature, he shows you, shows you, shows you. I can remember a really difficult, very, very difficult five or six years ago in my life trying to discover kind of what my role is.

And you know, when you get, hit your, you know, like late 40s and 50s, you think you're supposed to have this figured out. And I knew in general, I knew I was supposed to teach God's Word and you know, but what context and where and how did it work? And I found myself in a situation where I wasn't teaching God's Word anymore, but I was in ministry and I was in all these budget meetings and my joy was gone. But all the sort of issues of reputation and what it would look like if I left and my ego and insecurities and fears and took a big step of faith, but finding that big step of faith, it was dark.

I mean, it was just dark. And all I knew was, okay, I'm supposed to teach your Word, but God, I don't know exactly where, I don't know exactly how. And then it got real clear, it needs to be, it needs to be in a local church. And then it needs to be in a local church that's hostile to the gospel.

It needs to be in a local church. But it was a two-year journey. And part of that is I'll never forget, and I won't embarrass him, but there was a fellow in Atlanta who became a brother and a life coach. And you know how when you process everything, you look at everything negatively and it just, parts of it seemed very unfair and you know, I was learning to own my stuff.

And I'll never forget the whole paradigm shift. We were sitting in a, it was a country club that he belongs to, and he said, well, Chip, did you ever just consider that God has given you the gift to suffer? Did you ever consider that maybe, you know, you're trying to figure out why this, why that, and you're supposed to do this, did you ever just consider that maybe He just entrusted to you the grace gift of suffering right now for Jesus' sake?

And I remember, I didn't have like a good answer, but in my mind I'm thinking, I will guarantee you I've thought a lot, but that thought has never crossed my mind. I mean, it was like, and then, you know, thank God for scripture memory, Philippians 1.27 comes to my mind. For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw and now see to be in me. And I just remember thinking, I don't have to figure it all out, and I don't have to figure out what blame is me, or I don't have to find someone else or some circumstance, and it was just like, you know what, what if there's times where, isn't that what Paul said? I got to suffer for your glory. I went through this for you.

I don't see him, you know, saying, well, you know, the Romans had, you know, 76% on this, and I think the Judaizers were about 23.4% a part of this. I probably had a bad attitude, I'll take one or two percent of the problem, and I mean, that's how mine works. I mean, I'm always trying to figure out and control, and, you know, he just said, I'm suffering. What if that very thing that you begging God to take away is the very thing that's the greatest gift for what you need right now, and instead of resisting and pulling away and asking and struggling and blaming and trying to figure it all out, you moved into it and said, God, this isn't fair. It's evil.

It may have spiritual attack. It sure has some bad people that have done really harmful things to me, and I want to be a Joseph or a Josephine, and I want to lean into this, and I'm going to lean into a sovereign, good, loving God, and I don't get it all, but I'm going to trust that you mean it for good, and so I'm going to get up today and I'm going to praise you and I'm going to choose to rejoice, and I'm going to get up today and I'm going to refuse to be a victim. I'm going to get up today, I'm going to understand, so what's your role for me in this big world that would really honor you? And you start asking those questions that changes your whole perspective. Finally, until we grasp the extraordinary privilege and eternal impact of suffering for good, we will squander the greatest opportunities God will ever provide us to glorify His name and commune with His heart.

Sometimes these difficult times are this window where God could mold your heart and allow you to hear His voice and to build character and endurance and a capacity that could never happen. You know, it's that old picture of the piece of coal that it takes all that time and all that pressure and I think if I get it right, that coal over becomes a diamond. I wish there were an easy way.

I wish I had six easy steps, four easy steps, something you could repeat nine times a day and you would just poof, come out like Jesus. I'd sell it. And I want you to know I'd give at least 10% of it away, maybe more.

I'm teasing. It just ain't so people. But there's part of us that are yearning somehow and looking for some silver bullet, something that takes all the suffering away or cleans it all up rather than embracing and saying suffering is not a curse in a fallen world. It's a stewardship and a privilege to reveal God's love and power and to experience intimacy with Him.

And it is not fair. But His promise at the end of the Great Commission, do you remember what it is? And I will be with you how long? Always. Wouldn't it be interesting if we recalibrated all of the issues and realized that's actually the goal, that you would actually recognize and experience Him with you?

Always. Because you've become like who you hang with. And then you're suffering and when He's with you, you become like Him. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And the message you just heard, Overcoming Unjust Suffering, is from our series Unstuck. Chip will join us in studio to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. Through this study in the book of Ephesians, Chip highlights the most painful experiences we'll encounter in life and explains how God's Word delivers healing and power to overcome them. Learn how to not just move past broken relationships, rejection, and shattered dreams, but have true joy and contentment that only comes from a relationship with Jesus.

If you've missed any part of this series, catch up any time through the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip's with me in studio now, and Chip, the Bible teaches that God works all things together for good. But we don't often get to see that good actually happen. However, we've been blessed to witness God use this ministry in an incredible way over the past few years. Take a minute and tell our listeners how it came about.

Absolutely, Dave. It was in a dark moment in July of 2020 that I got on a Zoom call with the head of all the churches in Egypt. The markets were closed. The government was struggling, getting vaccines. People were dying. And they said, we're barely surviving. And I mentioned to the leader there that I was working on a series called The Art of Survival.

And he interrupted and said, send it to me right away. And that led me to get a camera crew over the weekend, film a three-part series from James chapter one, and then our international director said, Chip, this isn't just for all the pastors in Egypt. It launched then in 300 cities in India, multiple countries in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia. For 18 months, we were doing webinars.

I would do one in the evening that would do half the world and then one in the morning that did the other half of the world. And then out of that grew this vision to gather them in real time, since they haven't been together, some for over two years. And we went on the road and did training with The Art of Survival, one-day seminars. We trained over 40,000 pastors in Kenya on the ground. Then it was Malawi, Zambia, 30 cities in Mexico.

And it just goes on and on and on. If you care about the world, if you're praying that God will fulfill the Great Commission, if you care about pastors, can I tell you, I don't know of a better place right now that you can give financially and pray than to Living on the Edge as we train pastors here and all around the world. Thanks, Chip. Well, if you're excited about this incredible work we're doing, we'd love to have you join the team. Your regular financial support helps us reach more church leaders with this training and give them some much-needed encouragement. To learn how to become a monthly donor, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call us at 888-333-6003.

That's 888-333-6003 or visit LivingOnTheEdge.org. App listeners, tap donate. And please know how much we appreciate your generosity. Well, here again is Chip with a few final thoughts.

As we close today's program, this was a very packed teaching time. We looked at the first 13 verses of Ephesians chapter 3, and there were four principles that I lifted out of there of what you need to remember when you're suffering unjustly. The first one is that we're not a victim.

But then what you see in the Apostle Paul's journey and what he models for us is he talks about God's plan, his plan for the world, his plan for us, and he talks about the eternal perspective that we can have. Now, here's what I want you to do. Download the notes on this one because the verses are there and those key points are there. This is one you need to digest and read over. But let me give you some specific questions to ask yourself that'll help you start the process and start the journey if you or someone you know right now is experiencing unjust suffering.

These are not easy questions to ask, but they'll get you out of being a victim and on the road to growing through the process. Question number one to ask, Lord, what do you want to teach me through this? Question number two, Lord, how do you want to use me in this? Question number three, Lord, who needs to see your grace carry me through this unjust difficult situation? Question number four, Lord, will you please use my present pain to accomplish eternal gain and show me what you want me to do for that to happen? Those are not easy questions. Choose one of those. And maybe at this point, all you can say is, Lord, would you help me use this to glorify you?

Just show me the next step. I don't want to be a victim. It's not fair that you know what it's like to experience a not fair world.

Suffering is hard, but God can use it for good. Don't give in. Don't give up.

Keep going on. Thanks, Chip. And as we close, I want you to know that as a staff, we ask the Lord to help you take whatever your next faith step is. And if there's a way we can help, we'd love to do that.

Give us a call, 888-333-6003 is our number, or connect with us at LivingOnTheEdge.org. And while you're there, take a moment and look through our resources on various topics, many of them absolutely free. Well, on our next broadcast, we'll tie together what we've been learning these past couple of programs by sharing a moving interview with you. Two members of our international team will join us to share vivid stories of persecution happening to Christians around the world, and what we are doing to encourage and support these hurting believers. You won't want to miss that. Coming up on the next edition of Living on the Edge. I'm Dave Druey, and I hope you'll join us then.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 07:50:56 / 2024-02-21 08:03:39 / 13

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