Engaging with Those Who Are Suffering

By Jason McConahy,

Over the past few weeks, in our study through Job, we have been talking about the tendency for those who suffer to feel isolated. This is due, in part, to the discomfort and mess that suffering brings, which keeps many well-intentioned friends from effectively loving those in need. Instead, we can avoid the discomfort by remaining aloof from those who are in the midst of suffering, or we can try to provide quick-fixes and advice without entering into and sharing in their pain (involvement without empathy), or we can just lack the kind of perseverance needed to come alongside someone whose suffering doesn’t go away. 

Here are some helpful and practical suggestions for ways we can come alongside those who are suffering. These are from a lady in the church body who has suffered through health challenges for nearly a decade.  

  • Don’t try to “fix” the situation. God may have them there a long time.
  • Wash them with the Word - remind them of truth. Share what God is teaching you.
  • STOP! Take time to listen.
  • STOP! Take time to pray on the spot.
  • Pray first, then ask considerate, caring questions, seeking to understand their circumstances.
  • Be willing to walk through the discomfort of processing the ups and downs. (You don’t have to provide answers, just listen).
  • Don’t judge - you don’t know God's purposes and what He is truly doing in their circumstances.
  • Be prepared for a long haul - small touches mean A LOT. (i.e. text, phone call, card with verses, email, etc…)
  • Consider what would speak love and support beyond physical service…TIME spent!
  • Don’t get sucked into the prosperity gospel. Job was righteous but God still let Satan test him. John the Baptist and Paul’s lives ended badly but the end of this life is not the end.
  • Be a patient listener.
  • Reiterate your love for them because when the darkness surrounds you, you feel isolated and unlovable.
  • Repeat God’s promises and truth frequently.
  • If possible, laugh with them.
  • Be willing to trust God to teach you how to walk through the darkness with them.

Listen to the sermon series through the book of Job:

The Suffering King of Glory

By Aaron LeDuc,

“If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?”

The age old question. A question that seems to simultaneously put God on trial and cast great doubt on the Christian life. A question that juxtaposes our experience as we walk through this life and the biblical claims of who God is and what He’s like. As we prepare to remember the atoning death of Jesus and celebrate His great victory over the grave, it would do us good to frame out the answer to this question biblically. In doing so, I believe we will be more able to delight in the wonder of the resurrection of our Lord this Sunday.

Easter Church Service

If we assume for a moment there is a creator God, it will help us to learn WHY He created us as we seek to understand the state of suffering that we experience. The WHY of our creation is a picture painted throughout scripture, but it is most concisely found in Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

Do you see the “why” there? We were created and chosen “in Christ” so that we might “praise His glorious grace.” So, God’s aim in creating us is that He might show us a display of His glorious grace. And if God is infinitely wonderful, lovely, and glorious, then we should expect a display of infinitely wonderful, lovely, and glorious grace. This display of grace is precisely the thing we are preparing to gather and remember this Friday: the death and suffering of Jesus. The God-Man Jesus Christ was born into this world of suffering to display God’s grace.

Suffering exists so that Jesus might display the infinite, lovely, and glorious grace of God by suffering to overcome our own suffering. In Romans 8 we learn that through sin entering the world, suffering and death entered as well. The creation of God was placed into captivity to this pain and suffering, longing for the redemption from God. Longing for grace. To be human is to long for the very thing we were designed to desire: Redemption. Grace. Glorious grace.

Isaiah says of Jesus:
   Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
          he has put him to grief;
     when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

          he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
     the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
     Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
     by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
          make many to be accounted righteous,
          and he shall bear their iniquities.
     Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
          and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
     because he poured out his soul to death
          and was numbered with the transgressors;
     yet he bore the sin of many,
          and makes intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:10-12)

Church Service on Easter

Without suffering in this world, Jesus could never suffer for us so that we might receive this graceful gift of God! But because we live this life of eager longing through suffering, Jesus was able to demonstrate to us the most wonderful, magnificent, and excellent display of God’s grace. The most undeserving sinners are given the perfect righteousness of the only one who suffered without deserving it. In His suffering Jesus took the very wrath of God away from us, He set us free from our bondage to sin, and He dealt the deathblow to death. And we praise Him for this. His glorious grace.

Join us this Good Friday as we remember and reflect on the suffering of Jesus, then join us on Sunday as we delight and revel in His magnificent resurrection. After Easter, we’ll begin a journey through the book of Job that will help us dive deeper into understanding suffering and the sovereignty of God. I hope you can join us for it all!

Trusting God in 2016

By Alex Florea,

As 2016 approaches, are you excited to see how God might work or are you more filled with anxiety just thinking about all of the unknowns? When we allow challenges to get in the way of us trusting the Lord, it’s impossible to have the joy and peace we all desire. How do we learn to better trust God in the New Year? How can our lives be characterized more by faith than by fear? In the sermon this past weekend, we discussed three keys to trusting God.
1) The Past: Commemorate His Character
To commemorate is to recall and show respect for. It is to celebrate an event or person. In the Bible, we see an example in Joshua chapter four where the Israelites stacked stones as a memorial to remind them of how God had faithfully brought them into the Promised Land. As we look back, it’s important for us to ask the question, how has God been faithful in the past? What reminders do you have that point you to who He is? How has God revealed Himself to you this past year?
Maybe when you look at the past, all you see is pain. You can’t see God’s faithfulness because all you’ve experienced is hardship. In those times, we must remember the cross. God loved us SO much that He sent Jesus to die for us.
Randy Alcorn said, “One look at Jesus—at His incarnation and the redemption He provided us—should silence the argument that God has withdrawn to some far corner of the universe where He keeps His hands clean and maintains His distance from human suffering.”
There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that remind us of how great God’s love is for us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If we are ever having a hard time seeing His faithfulness in our lives, we must look to His Word to be reminded of who He is.

2) The Future: Take God at His Word.
We should ask ourselves “What has God promised in the future?” When we look to the Bible, we not only see His faithfulness in the past, but we also see the promises He has given us for the future. Corrie ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Since He is a God who never changes, His past faithfulness reassures us of fulfilled promises in the future.
One of the most beautiful pictures in all of Scripture is found in Revelation 21:3-5 that gives the believer a glimpse of the future. Heaven will be a place where there will be no more pain or suffering. As we meditate on God’s promises, this should motivate us to have an eternal perspective, seeing now in the light of then.

When we fix our eyes on the eternal, we can better trust God today and better endure what we are facing. Charles Spurgeon once said, “One short glimpse, one transitory vision of His glory, one brief glance at His marred, but now exalted and beaming countenance, would repay almost a world of trouble.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 helps us to have this eternal mindset. “…do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
3) The Present: we need to have the Proper Perspective
What is God doing right now? We don’t live in the past and we shouldn’t be distracted by the future. We must be present in the present! And when we are, we experience more of His presence.

Have you ever noticed how distracting technology can be? It has a way of taking us out of the present into some other world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, the list goes on and on! In the middle of my sermon, I got out the selfie stick to get a quick pic so I could update my Facebook status. A bit unconventional, but I think this illustration proved a point that it’s easy to be distracted from more important things.
Worry is one way that we can be distracted by the future, failing to trust God in the present. “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength - carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” This was a great reminder from Corrie ten Boom who, through many trials, learned to better trust God.
Another way in which we must have the proper perspective in order to better trust God is to see that He always has a plan in the pain. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” When we see pain as purposeful, we can better trust Him in the present. Believing this to be true can be very challenging! Fortunately, God gave us other believers to help us. Hebrews 10:24-25 talks about how we should spur or stimulate and encourage other. This passage says how we need to meet with other believers, exhorting each other… warning each other. We can’t battle sin on our own, God didn’t intend for us to do so.
Not only has God given us other Christians, He has given us Himself! To have the proper perspective, we must rely on the power of the Spirit. When God calls us to trust and follow Him, He also enables us to do so. Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Battling sin and striving to see good in challenging circumstances is hard, but praise be to God that He gives us strength to have the right perspective!
So, as we head into the New Year, let’s remember that God gives us remembrances of the past and glimpses of the future so that we might better trust Him in the present!

If you missed the sermon on Sunday, listen here: