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Suffering: A Case Study

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2021 12:01 am

Suffering: A Case Study

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 28, 2021 12:01 am

The Lord does not abandon us in our suffering. God is with His people, especially when we hurt. Today, R.C. Sproul addresses some of the questions we raise in the midst of our pain.

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If there is a God who is sovereign over all of life over all of death, and over all pain and overalls disease and overall illness and overall sorrow than what that means is that it is flat out impossible that any pain could ever be without purpose, pain or tragedy in your lives. It's natural for us to pray this way today and all this week on Renewing Your Mind were going to hear the comfort the Scripture provides in those time. This is from the series surprised by suffering which Dr. RC Spruill taught in front of the group of doctors and nurses at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas learned that even in times of great distress. We can have peace that surpasses understanding whenever I encounter this question of suffering either as a philosophical question or as a cry of pain from somebody who's in the midst of that suffering when they're asking it.

The question that I hear in my profession inevitably is the question where is God in all of this and then the next question is the question. It is the one that every theologian and register here fits this question. Why, when I'm afflicted when you're afflicted when pain intrudes into your life and the threat of death comes the first thing that we ask is why why me, why has this happened. How could God allow these things to take place anytime we ask this simple question why were asking a question about purpose the why questions are the questions about purpose of why questions are questions about meaning or not asking how were not asking when were not asking what were asking why I think is a reason why we asked the question this one thing to experience pain but it's another thing to anticipate my suffering and my pain is worthless if I'm going to have to go through pain if I would have to go to suffering. I have to know inside of myself that there's some kind of reason for this is not just an exercise in futility. This came out to me very vividly and very personally just a few weeks ago, my wife Beth and I had returned to Orlando after being on the road and had been speaking. It's not even remember where we were, but anytime they were away from home and come back home.

It's an experience of great joy. I remember as we drove into our driveway.

I said to my wife I said where all this wonderful we pulled into the driveway and the garage and as I shut the engine of the car off and got out of the car came around behind the car. The door to our kitchen opened and my daughter framed the doorway and as soon as she saw us she burst into tears and she blurted out these words daddy I just lost my baby and she came over to me and I just taught my arms and she grabbed me and I held her while she sobbed in my shoulder and took a few moments for her to get over the trauma of saying us and I returned and to explain what happened here.

She had just begun her ninth month of her pregnancy pregnancy that had been very difficult and a good one that involved a long period of morning sickness and some difficulties with hemorrhaging and so on, but she adjust that day felt the absence of life within her, and she's going to see her doctor and the doctor has gone and put her through many tests and announced to her soberly. Sadly, that the baby had died. Of course that's always a very difficult thing for any expectant mother to experience but on top of that, the doctor then explained that the procedure that was necessary for her to follow would be this, that they would bring her into the hospital the next morning and induce labor.

And we talked about it and she said daddy they want me to go through labor but my baby's day.

I've often stood in profound admiration at the strength of women to go through the travail of childbirth, and I've often wondered after they got through it once how they could make the decision to do it again. In many cases again and again and as I speak to women about this is that how can you stand to go through this process that we call euphemistically labor and they said because of what we know is waiting at the end of the pay that is a woman is willing to endure the pain of childbirth because she looks forward to the moment the life will be produced and once that life is there and she holds her baby for the first time, then the pain is behind her and for that moment. At least she says it's worth and I'll do it again. But how do you go into the hospital to go through childbirth and labor knowing that what's at the end of your pain is death and that's what my daughter and I had to talk about and she looked at me as a theologian and not just as a father.

She wanted to get some heavy answers to her question and Frank that in heaven, so we want to the hospital the next day her husband, her mother and I she checked in the induced labor. We sat there in the delivery room with her find the contractions in and she was bearing heroic. I thought I was very proud of her. After several hours of pass. He said that he wants you down in the and get some lunch and come back a little while because I'm doing fine and so I excused myself. I was glad for the respite. I went downstairs and ordered a brief lunch. Only took 15 or 20 minutes and hurried back up to the floor to carry on the visual site approached the swinging doors that one of the board. Suddenly I was stopped by the sound of the bloodcurdling scream and it took a couple of moments for this. Again, there was my daughter that was screaming like that in and out of Ashley. I was terrified to go through those doors and go back in the room.

As I approached the room. This nurse stopped me. She held her hands and she said the babies, and so I scurried back into the outer corridor for a few moments and then she finally came out and she said okay you can go in. So I went in and I saw something that I will never forget my wife will never forget my son-in-law will never forget it.

I know my daughter will never forget as long as I lived. My daughter was in the bed and she was holding to her bosom and eight month old little girl who has no life and I wondered about the medical procedure. The policy why in the world when they leave this dead baby in the arms of a mother. Why didn't they just snatch it away dispose of it.

However they do and and as I discussed that with the nurses. They said the mother needs to see the fruit of her life so she held the baby for 45 minutes for an hour they came in they took pictures. A lot of air gave her name and did all of these things and my daughter cried and I cried and her husband cried and everybody cried. But as we spoken of it now and the last several weeks. He said that he I had to hold my baby because I had no my labor was not in vain that Mike was not in vain. Justice Monday. I received word in my office that the wife of rather famous sports writer in America passed away. Bob Griese living All-Pro former quarterback of the Miami Dolphins wife young wife Judy died this week after battling cancer for 10 years now. I'm not a close personal friend of the Griese family but I was in Miami a month ago when I was doing a series of lectures and after one of these lectures.

A woman crashed through the people came up to me she said are safe. She said I'm asking you to do a personal favor for me and I said was that she said I have an dear friend who's been fighting cancer for 10 years and she's really downright she went on to tell me something of Judy Griese's story and she said Judy's been listening to your tapes and all and she knows you, not personally but but through these educational materials and so I'm just sure it will mean a lot to her.

If you would somehow find a time to go and see your lesson farrago for this lady took me up to the house and rang the doorbell and Bob answered the door and he took me into the family room and Judy was sitting back there in a chair and I came in and I sat down next to her in the chair and difference, I had no idea what the Seder, and she looked at me and the tears started to just roll down over her cheeks and she said RC. I don't think I can take anymore what to say what you say to say we don't talk like that or do you say you have to keep hanging in there.

You have to keep it a thought whom I to tell this woman how much she has to think so.

I say anything I just held her hand and I sat there feeling more and more and more inadequate by the moment. As I held her hand for about 45 minutes and just listen to her talk when we were finished.

Had some prayer and I last but this woman came to be the next day and she was all excited and she said she said you just can't believe how full it was last night when you visited Judy Griese said I didn't say anything I said I was so embarrassed I said I know she was looking to me to give her some words of comfort and of wisdom and explain the secret counsel of Almighty God, which I'm not equipped to do, no matter how much theology I studied and I said I didn't do anything. All I did was sit there and hold her hand she said, but that's all she wanted an associate Dean, she's heard all the sermons and she's heard all the platitudes she just wanted somebody to show her that they cared, she said, whether you like it or not, because you are a minister you represent the presence of Christ was away a it's a poor representation and I thought at that moment of a statement that Martin Luther once may he said is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor to represent to bring his comfort his peace is understanding and not his judgment to people who are in pain-don't very often get the opportunity to listen to the televangelist but I did hear not too long ago I heard one of these preachers I couldn't even remember the moment who it was.

He was standing up and he he made this statement to the people out there in television land. He said I want you people to understand that God has nothing whatsoever to do with suffering and that God doesn't have anything to do with death. Death is something that intrudes into the creation of God and of course, this minister went on to say and to assign all pain and all suffering and all illness and all death to the devil as I listen to that. To be honest with you I want to throw something through the TV screen and I I try to understand what would possess a minister weathers a television minister or any other kind of minister to stand up and tell people that God does anything with suffering. Whether God is living with death, and the only thing I can come up with was that this minister somehow wanted to answer the problems that people have when suffering comes upon them because some people get mad at God. A lot of people get medical they say this isn't fair. How can you let this sort of thing happen to me again why where is God in all of this and what the minister of television was trying to do so carefully, was to absolve God from all guilt and all responsibility for ever allowing anything unpleasant to befall one of his dear creatures, just like the philosophers used to say that God is really loving and if God is really powerful that he couldn't possibly allow all of the tragedy and the pain and the suffering and the sorrow that happens in this world to happen so the minister on television lately kind of package forces that God simply done having.

I'm sure that what he was trying to do was to make people feel comfortable because they didn't want have to think about a God who might in fact be involved with their pain.

But two things jumped in my mind at that point. First thing is I wonder if this man has ever read the Old Testament.

I wonder if this means ever read the New Testament because the God of Judaism, the God of Christianity is a God who majors in suffering is not by accident. Ladies and gentlemen, that in the New Testament, Jesus is identified as a man of sorrows, who was acquainted with grief and he is called the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah is future expectation of one who would be known as the suffering servant of Israel. So far from the idea that God doesn't do it, death, or God is a window suffering is the God is the Lord of life.

He is the Lord of death. He's the Lord. Pain is the Lord of suffering and rather than that being bad news to me.

That's good news because the simplest of all theological lessons that we can learn from this is that if there is a God who is sovereign over all of life over all of death, and over all pain and overalls, disease, and over all illness, and over all sorrow and what that means is that it is flat out impossible that any pain could ever be without purpose.

If God is, then there is no such thing as meaningless or I don't know what the individual suffering means or why a particular person is called to suffer in a particular way at a particular time. I don't know if I cannot read the mind of God. The secret counsel of God. But I do know something about the character of God, and I know that he is sovereign and when pain comes and when disease comes that sovereignty suddenly becomes more than an abstraction doesn't because that's where the struggle is can I trust God in this or not.

Now I was talking with one of the members of the staff here. Eventually Anderson about problems that people experience when they are afflicted with cancer and when the diagnosis is first made their all kinds of of human emotions that are expressed there is anger or sphere. One of the stronger emotions is surprise because we like to think that these kinds of diseases in this kind of suffering can never or will never come into our lives and that surprise becomes all the more accentuated when we are ministers out there telling us that if you believe in God and you believe in Christ you never have to worry about pain and suffering. That's just not true. That does not comfort us when we need to become. I have a little grandson that's three years old and he's the kids are there so oblivious to all of the sorrow that's in the world there enjoying life. Then all of a sudden they bang their fingers with a hammer or they fall down.

They scraped their knees and then this little commend he's crying crocodile tears and say what's the matter Ryan. He says I have an out in a single, what can I do what he said while in a band or he says he wants me to kiss it because if I kiss it, then the arts will go away will be all over and that's why a lot of the pain and sickness and disease in children. Turns out, not for every we can go here to the pediatric ward in Indiana since the children whose illnesses cannot because the way. But for most people are childhood diseases are over as quickly and as suddenly as they came and we sort of distance ourselves from more serious, but as we grow older then when we have indigestion were not sure it's in the church when we have a headache were not sure it's a headache now this life threatening diseases become clear and present danger and for some they hear the announcement that their disease may be turned at that moment, the surprise's, even though we spent our lives being prepared for this possibility. It is still a surprise, and theologically is the worst surprise because were still forced back to this question. Why, how could God allow this to happen and that's what I just for this first segment I want to leave you with one statement from the new test say Peter wrote to his people in the first epistle of Peter in the fourth chapter he makes the statement, dear friends.

Think it not strange that you are suffering a painful trial, as though some strange thing were happening to you that are think it strange. That's because by this point in his life Peter understood that God was intimately involved with suffering and the fur of a person to be called upon to suffer is not surprising. Once we understand who God is, that may seem strange to but I want to explore that as we look at a case study in vocational suffering. Next, even though suffering is a normal part of life.

It seems were always caught off guard when it happens to us this week on Renewing Your Mind were learning about God's purpose in suffering every portions of Dr. RC Sproul's classic series surprised by suffering. He taught this years ago but biblical truth is timeless and it's helpful in every stage of our lives. We like to send you the full series on MP3 CD.

Each of the six messages will remind us that God is not absent during these times is there to comfort and give us hope. If you are a family member in the middle of a trial.

I can't recommend this series of highly enough requested today with your donation of any about to look at your ministries. You can reach us warp, you can simply call us with your gift at 800-435-4343, when were in the middle of difficulty. It's easy to feel afraid and alone studying God's word.

Though listening to sermons and hearing the great hymns of the faith is a good way to focus our attention on timeless principles.

You can do that 24 hours a day with our free Internet radio station. It's called ref net. Listen now a drift that.FM or download the free app. Most doctors will just mention there are those who've been called to suffer. Job certainly comes to mind, and RC will talk about his trials but there was someone who was called to suffer even more. We hope you'll join us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind

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