Father's Providence and Our Suffering

Date: AM
Text: Psalm 66; Lord's Day 10
Psalters: 378, 329, 272, 174
  1. Suffering teaches.
    1. Suffering is a constant reality in this life.
      1. Suffering is a constant and real part of this life?s existence: it is ?valley of the shadow of death?.
      2. Scripture makes clear that God is sovereign also over suffering: He sends it; He measures it; He gives relief from it.
    2. In general, our Father uses suffering to show?
      1. Sin to mankind; so man knows he is a sinner before God.
      2. Christ.
        1. By His suffering Jesus bore the punishment earned by His elect?s sins and earned righteousness and eternal life.
        2. His suffering does not take away suffering, but it does take away its sting (I Cor. 15:55a), changing it into being even a means to experience God?s saving nearness.
  2. Scripture teaches that God?s grace changes suffering for God?s children.
    1. Romans 8:17ff. teaches much about the sufferings of this present time.
    2. Psalm 66 shows that God?s grace brings benefits through affliction.
    3. And we learn about chastisement, in distinction from punishment, is judgment sanctified and changed in its purpose.
  3. Suffering enriches God?s children spiritually.
    1. First, suffering shows us where our wealth is, and where our strength and help are not.
      1. Suffering reminds us that all earthly things are passing and essentially unsatisfying.
      2. We learn that Jesus and all that is in Him is truly soul-satisfying (endearing) and eternal, for His love never fails.
      3. Suffering revitalizes our prayer life (Isa. 26:16; Psalm 55:1-4,17).
    2. Suffering increases our understanding and appreciation of God?s Word (Psalm 119:71,72).
    3. Suffering makes us exercise and develop our spiritual graces (fruit of the spirit).
    4. Suffering equips us to comfort our fellow-saints (II Cor. 1:3,4).