Once when comedian Bob Hope received a major award he responded, "I don't deserve this, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either."
What do you have that you feel you don't deserve?
What are you walking through, some kind of negative, harmful experience that you honestly feel you didn't deserve - and you says, "Hey, I don't deserve this?"
It's called suffering. It is called pain.
We are going to wrestle with this (Romans 8:18-27) - this evening at "Pure Worship" (Don't forget we have a prayer meeting at 6:00 P.M.)
We all have gone through things that we feel we don't deserve - and we ask, "Why me, Lord? What Have I ever done to deserve even one of the troubles I am in?"
Here's what I know: As a follower of Christ, you and I will experience pain and suffering. No one is exempt.
I read this week that at the Nicene Council, an important church meeting in the 4th century (A.D.) - of the 318 delegates attending, FEWER than 12 had NOT lost an eye or lost a hand or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith.
Most Christian types deal with suffering in one of four ways (that we will look at this evening): Denial, anger, blame, and/or acceptance - learning from it.
God will use suffering to help us grow in him. Proverbs 20:30 tells us, "Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways."
God will uses our trials to motivate us, to get us going and to get us in gear.
Again, people don't change until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of changing.
Outline for tonight from Romans 8:18-27?
Your suffering is temporary (read verse 19-22). Your suffering is educational (verses 23-25). Your suffering is beneficial (verses 26-27).
All of that is hard to accept however.
How can cancer be beneficial? How can the loss of a job be beneficial? How can a broken marriage be beneficial?
How can public humiliation be beneficial? How can tears at midnight be beneficial?
Paul teaches us that our suffering reveals our weakness. It strips away the mask of self-sufficiency and reveals our utter helplessness. It forces us to confront our own inabilities.
It propels us to be totally dependent upon God and trust in Him.
In Holding on to Hope, Nancy Guthrie writes:
"We had Hope for 199 days (their little baby). We loved her. We enjoyed her richly and shared her with everyone we could. We held her during seizures. Then we let her go.
The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, "You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn't."
Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we were comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair.
But I don't think it makes our loss hurt any less.
Early on in my journey, I said to God, "Okay, if I have to go through this, then give me everything. Teach me everything you want to teach me through this. Don't let this incredible pain be wasted in my life!"
God...allows good and bad into our lived and we can trust him with both...trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness - this is the kind of faith God values most of all....
I believe that the purpose of Hope's short life, and my life, was an is to glorify God."
Powerful stuff for a Wednesday.