HOW CAN I SUFFER WELL?

What a crazy question? If one thing is true about this life, it’s that everyone suffers. It’s a universal experience; something we can expect to face at various turns in our life.

However, given that everyone suffers, maybe there’s a better question we can ask. Rather than, “Why do I suffer?” instead we could inquire, “When I suffer, how can I face it well?

None of us choose to suffer, but each of us gets to choose how we suffer. If we’re willing to shift our question in this way, God in Psalm 73 gives a brilliant answer.

A worship leader called Asaph penned this Psalm. The Psalm has three parts.

1. Problem: In verses 1-14, Asaph tells us about the problem that he faced.

But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.” Psalm 73:2-3

Asaph is resentful of those around him making ungodly life choices but facing no consequences for it. He describes their cruelty, greed and pride in depth and then remarks, “Look at these wicked people enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

Maybe you feel the same sense of injustice in your own life; maybe you don’t relate at all. But one thing we can all take away from Asaph’s complaint is that God is big enough to handle our problems.

We don’t need to paper over them. Like Asaph, we can express our frustrations to God. If we need to whinge, far better to whinge to the One who has supernatural patience and can actually do something about it.

God wants us to draw near and tell Him about our struggles. He doesn’t require eloquent prayers—He just wants our hearts. This might be why the word ‘heart’ is mentioned six times in this Psalm.

At the height of his complaint, Asaph moans.

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.” Psalm 73:13-14

In other words, “God, I’m trying to do the right thing, so why am I still suffering so much?” Does that question sound familiar? Yes, Asaph is asking the wrong question. He’s in need of some perspective—and that’s exactly what he’s about to get.

2. Perspective

in verses 15-22, we hear about the perspective that he gained. A sudden shift takes place as Asaph realises,

If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people.Psalm 73:15

Up until this point, Asaph hadn’t been seeing straight. He’d been in a deep well of self-pity, and now he’s starting to ascend out of it. His eyes have been opened to something we’re so often blinded to: our feelings are not facts. In such moments of self-pity, we need the facts to reshape our feelings. This is exactly what happens to Asaph:

So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is!  Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.Psalm 73:16-17

We moderns don’t like this idea—the destiny of the wicked. Surely at the end of time, we reason, God will be kind to all. But is that really what we want?

How terrible it would be to catalogue all of the evil, committed through all of the centuries, by all of the tyrants and terrorists, tricksters and transgressors. It would leave no doubt that the world truly cries out for justice.

A God that lets every wrongdoer off the hook is not a God worthy of our affection: he is a moral monster. Deep down, we long to see vindication for those who have suffered.

Despite our modern objections, deep down we long for the God of Asaph—the God who will right every wrong, who steps in to defend the oppressed.

God will bring about ultimate justice. This is the perspective that Asaph gained. Finally, he could see how wrong he’d previously been:

Then I realised that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.
 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Psalm 73:21-22

3. Presence

Fortunately, this is not where Asaph’s journey ends. As he concludes his Psalm, in verses 23-28, Asaph testifies to the presence of God that he experienced.

What a relief that our problems don’t get the last say. And what a relief that even the right perspective isn’t God’s end-game when we suffer. The point of it all—the way to face suffering well—is to let it drive us into the very presence of God:

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God is the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.Psalm 73:23-26

Your suffering might not be understood by a single soul on earth. But nothing escapes God. He knows of your struggle. He wants to meet you in it. He offers you the comfort of His presence.

In this Psalm, Asaph lands on a truth that you and I are still catching up with: there’s a gap between the real and the ideal, between how life is and how it should be. But standing in that gap is a God who listens intently to our problems, resets our perspective, and welcomes us into His presence.

If He were just any god, that might be cold comfort. But this is the God who Himself faced incomprehensible suffering. He didn’t remain aloof—instead, he took on flesh, walked among us, and dealt with all the world’s injustice at Calvary. Because of this, every wrong will ultimately be made right.

This side of the cross, we have even more reason than Asaph to confidently declare:

But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.Psalm 23:28

Taken from article “But God is the strength of my heart” by Kurt Mahlberg

RESTORE THE GLORY OF GOD

 What the church needs most right now are God-appointed leaders who are jealous for His glory.

Years after Samuel’s ministry was established, David rose to restore the glory of God back to its rightful place (see 2 Sam. 6).

Image result for picture of King David leading the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem

‘Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You.’ 2 Samuel 7 :25

When God-appoints men to leadership, their first agenda is to make sure the glory of the Lord is restored and dwells where it belongs.

The ark did not belong in the Philistine camp, Abinadab’s house or Obed-Edom’s house (see 2 Sam. 6). It belonged in the temple of the Lord. David gathered all the choice men in Israel with an eagerness and a zeal to restore that which was lost.

I believe the highest priority on God’s heart for 2018 and beyond is the restoration of His glory in His church.

True leaders are always seeking to find grace in God’s sight, and like Moses, they will not lead without the presence of God.

The greatest concern of a godly leader is for the church to be separated from the world and wholly consecrated to God. A true leader’s longing and desire is to see the glory of God and have it restored among His people (Ex. 33:15-18).

It is not popularity, bigger buildings, increased attendance and more money that has priority in the hearts of godly leaders. It is the glory!

Men who live close to the heart of God know that it is only His glory that will change everything.

It’s time for the glory, the manifested presence of God, to return to our churches, our personal lives, our homes, our thinking, our conversation and our conduct. The glory of God will break us from going through the motions, and make everything new, fresh and alive again.

Here are some mindset changes we must make to recover the true glory of God:

  1. Don’t be impressed by the trappings of the production of the church and fooled by its big names and big conferences.

Elaborate buildings, large numbers of people and an increasing flow of cash have fooled much of the modern church. The church did not begin with that focus, and yet somehow, modern church principles have put the emphasis on attendance, buildings and cash.

Another meeting, another offering, another song, another convention, another banquet, another special speaker, another concert, another project, another program … and so ‘church life’ continues, but the changed life remains scarce. If the horse is healthy, the cart will be pulled. If the horse is unhealthy, making the cart more attractive is useless.” —Roy Farias

I’m afraid there is a large gap separating the culture of the modern Western church from the heart of God as revealed through Jesus in the Gospels and through the early church.

How do you convince a believer that what they have is a counterfeit if they’ve never witnessed the real? I’m afraid so much of it is New Age gobbledygook and psycho-babble tainted with false motives and a desire for filthy lucre at the root of our agenda. We have so irreverently cheapened and merchandised God’s sacred gifts and grieved the precious Spirit of God. Let’s stop this mess! This is not Kabod (the heavy glory). This is Ichabod—further evidence that the glory has departed.

Holy is the Lord.

  1. Restore the culture of the kingdom of God.

The sad truth is that in much of the church world, the culture of the kingdom of God has been lost to the culture of hype, greed, religious politics, a Hollywood Jesus and the professional business of the church to such an extent that many churches resemble a political machine or a corporation more than God’s culture.

God’s culture begins with the family, the home, making disciples through life relationships, reaching and caring for others with the gospel and the love of God.

The true disciples of Jesus are losing their taste for the shallow and superficial, and are separating themselves from those entangled in the appearance of spirituality. Many people have become disenchanted with the church because of hurt, misuse and abuse, religious politics and leadership caught up in the things of the flesh. People are looking for depth in the Word and in their relationships, a free-flowing move of the Spirit, personal empowerment and leadership that does not play political games.

Word received by John Fenn, World Wide House Church Network.

“See what I see, many small churches and ministries investing in relationships, walking in love, pouring their lives into each other; this is where the Spirit is moving today. There is a revolution taking place in my body, a revolution of relationships, discipleship and love. This will affect whole communities and economies.

See what I see, many churches all over the world in which people are accountable to one another, working through conflicts, walking in love and growing as my disciples. That is where my Spirit is moving today.

Many are running to and fro asking, ‘Where is the next move; what is the next season of the Spirit?’ And I say to you that it is under their very noses. They stumble at the supernatural work in their midst and refuse to humble themselves and be taught because they seek the sensational and that which appeals to the outward man. They fail to recognize the true move of God because it must be spiritually discerned. —John Fenn

  1. Return to the preaching and practice of the cross.

The cross-less gospel is the greatest lack in Western Christianity today and the reason for many of the church’s failures and the biggest reason why it is becoming increasingly difficult in many places of the world to tell the difference between a real Christian and non-Christian.  Listen to the following quote from a hero of the faith who knew God deeply and experienced His glory:

“The way into the glory is through the flesh being torn away from the world and separated unto God.” — Smith Wigglesworth

I believe God’s promises are true, and I am all for instilling hope in people, but sometimes the best thing the church can hear are the warnings, rebukes and roadblocks of what is actually hindering revival, the glory of God and His promises from coming to pass.

There is a new gospel and new so-called national prophets—really, wolves in sheep’s clothing. The false prophets Jesus warned would lead many astray in the last days. They speak peace to all those who have itching ears for something new and exotic and they cause them to trust in a lie, and subtly supplant within their hearts rebellion against the Lord (Jer. 28:15-16).

adapted from article by Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries

THIS FALSE BELIEF IS THE ROOT OF THE CHURCH’S PROBLEMS

Francis Chan believes the modern church has an outreach problem. We pray and intercede with fervour for miracles and the supernatural—and yet few of us take that same passion into outreach ministry. Worse yet, he says, we rely on our own power to save people, believing we can do anything to persuade someone more or less to Christ. He diagnoses the problem—and offers a persuasive answer—in this sermon. Pastor’s you need to see this message. It will be 20 minutes invested in eternal life.