Dustin Willis from North American Mission Board out of Atlanta was at FCA this past Thursday to talk to us about something we all have, are, or will experience: suffering.
He asked the question “Why is this happening to ME, right now?”
He began by pointing to the Word, in John 9, asking us to step into the suffering of the blind man as if it were our own. Dustin then took us through 4 truths that begin to answer our greatest questions about suffering.
1.Suffering is guaranteed.
Suffering is everywhere and it almost overwhelms how fatally fragile human life is. John 16:33 promises that we will have tribulation in this life. When looking at all of this suffering, it can be easy to ask “why didn’t God create a world without suffering?”, and the answer is, that He did. God created the Garden as perfect, without suffering. But we did get offered the choice to love Him back or not. This leads to his second point.
2. Suffering is a result of the fall
As a result of the fall of man, the choosing to pursue something other than what God created for us, suffering entered the world. However, He did not leave us hopeless.
3. Suffering will be used for good
While we are suffering, we never understand why we are going through it. Maybe sometimes we will get a glimpse into what the Father is doing, but God wants our trust even more than He wants our understanding.
At the beginning of FCA, everyone was handed a black puzzle piece as we entered. Dustin talked about how we long to create that puzzle in our life. To see where each piece fits and to know all that surrounds it. However, sometimes all we get is a single, black piece without even the back of the box to look at to know what we are creating. Suffering often feels like this black piece. But in God’s economy, this suffering piece is essential, and can be redeemed.
He said that ” because of the worst thing ever to happen, He made the best thing ever happen: full access to the Father and our souls going to heaven through the death of Christ.” ( John 16:7). So He too can use this awful piece and use it for good.
4. Suffering will end
He left us with the idea and hope that suffering will end. Revelation 21 says
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
There is a day coming, friends, when all this will be no more. When every tear we have ever cried will be wiped away by our saviors scarred hands. There will be a day when all of this ends. When all we have left is the fullness of the Father.
I do not know what your suffering is. I don’t know what that looks like. But I do know that just hearing words about why we suffer isn’t enough to heal all of that hurt. So I just want to pray for you.
Father, may this dearly loved child know that You are holding them. May they feel the fullness of this suffering and the fullness of your healing and kindness. May they have peace that washes over them. May they see your gaze upon them and know without a shadow of a doubt that You care so deeply for them. Father, may we remember this isn’t punishment. Rid us of that lie that is guilt and shame and fear. Help us to know what is true, that You are good and that You work ALL THINGS together for the good of those you love. Amen.