This can be one of the hardest struggles in life, for the believer as well as the non-believer. Why all the suffering in the world? Why do we have so many seemingly unnecessary difficulties in our lives? Why DO bad things happen to good people? Of course, if we are in Christ we know that our question should be why good things happen to bad people, since none of us is good by God’s standards. But even knowing this it can be hard to see God’s plan. It is certainly hard for those who don’t know Him
The one thing we can know and trust in is that God is sovereign, and that everything He causes or allows has a purpose. Just as we can see that purpose in Job by reading the end of the book, and seeing the impact it has had on the rest of scripture and on Christian life, you can likely see how the hand of God has worked in your life. I know there were times of incredible pain and struggle in my early life that made no sense to me at the time, but do now, and many of those struggles made me who I am today. I thank God for those times, and even for the pain, because they were God’s means of drawing me closer to Him. And in the same way God uses struggles in other people’s lives for the same purpose. In a number of occasions, when sharing the gospel with people and talking about their struggles, I have reminded them that it could be that the very reason God allowed those struggles was to bring them to that time and place, and to prepare them to hear His word. It has always given them pause and made them think, and I believe in some, if not most cases, that is exactly the truth.
So this weekend as you read, remind those listening (and yourselves) that we serve a God of purpose. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Nothing is random or accidental. Everything that happens, whether it is directly caused or merely allowed, whether it occurs through supernatural fiat or through the working of His providence, has purpose, and is the act of a good God working for the good of His children, and for the praise of His glory.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND THE GROUP
READ JOB 2
This is part of the story of Job, one of the oldest stories in the Bible
It reminds us of the reality of pain and suffering in this world
It also reminds us that God is aware of that pain and suffering
Many would ask how a good God could allow such evil things to happen to such a good man.
In truth no man is good, and we should rather think of why good things happen to bad people
But more importantly, we need to know that God is sovereign, or in control, and that everything that He allows or causes happens for a purpose.
Like Job, we may not know what that purpose is, and like him, we may struggle to see God’s goodness is our lives
And like Job, God may not choose to give us the answers we seek. God never answered Job’s questions that we know of.
But this story reminds us that God is sovereign, or in total control, and that He has purpose, even if we can’t see it
So what is your purpose in God’s creation?
The Westminster shorter catechism says man’s purpose here is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
But God’s word tells us all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
We fall short because we have broken His law and chosen to disobey or neglect His commands, and thus we do not glorify Him
Have you done that? Have you broken God’s law?
God tells us that the purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith.
So take a few minutes to examine yourself in the light of that law.
GO THROUGH THE LAW TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
The purpose of the law is to show us our sin and our guilt before God
God is holy, and because of His moral perfection, because of His absolute purity, His word tells us He cannot even look on sin, and that He will not leave the guilty unpunished
Therefore God has prepared a place of punishment, first for the fallen angels and then for us. It is a place called hell, a place of eternal suffering and torment. A place of fire and darkness and pain that will never end.
The purpose of judgment and punishment in hell is tied to that holiness, to God’s character
God’s justice and holiness must be satisfied, and thus all sin must be punished completely
And if you look at yourself in truth, you know that punishment is exactly what you deserve.
But God has made a way for sin to be punished, and His justice satisfied, so you can be brought into a right relationship with Him
That way is through the suffering and death of the God Man, Jesus Christ
The purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross 2000 years ago is the redemption of mankind through His blood
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 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. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
Because Jesus Christ died and rose again, we can be saved from the penalty due us for our sins and brought into a right relationship with our creator.
God’s word says this is done through repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21)
So today, while God has given you time, repent, or turn from sin, and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone to save you.
BE SURE TO EMPHASIZE THE TENTATIVE NATURE OF THIS LIFE, AND THE URGENCY OF TRUSTING IN CHRIST WHILE THERE IS TIME. STATISTICS REGARDING FREQUENCY OF DEATH, OR ACCOUNTS OF RECENT TRAGEDIES INVOLVING UNEXPECTED OR VIOLENT DEATHS CAN BE USEFUL IN THIS REGARD. BUT DON’T FORGET, SUCH EVENTS SHOULD NEVER BE TREATED LIGHTLY, BUT WITH SORROW AND WITH COMPASSION.