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Remember the Lessons of Suffering (4 of 14)
INTRO: Don't you just hate it when God doesn't answer your prayers correctly? (This means of course that God didn't act and do things our way!) Don't you just get mad when you have prayed and told God how something should be done and He only does part of what you prayed for? Worse yet, don't you just get frustrated with the Lord when He totally ignores your prayer and does something completely different from what you asked?
Of course if God answered prayer exactly as we have always wanted we would never suffer, and in our minds at least the world would be a perfect place! And of course we would be deeply spiritual and never doubt the Lord... etc., etc., etc.
HOWEVER; the reality of living for the Lord is that we do suffer and our prayers aren't always answered the way we want them to be. In fact, as Christians we often suffer just as much as any other person in this world! So then, what is the difference between our suffering and unbelievers in this world?
The difference is that our suffering is understood in the context of eternity and God's purposes which are at times above our understanding. Suffering for Christians is not without meaning, but in the world the same cannot always be true! Suffering is just another tool God uses to produce in us the fruit of His Spirit, He doesn't delight in letting us suffer but He will use it to make us more like His son Jesus!
The lessons of suffering are patience, humility, grace, trusting in God's goodness even when we don't see it, dependency on the Lord, compassion for others, per¬spective, thankfulness, love, sensitivity, etc.
PROP. SENT: Suffering is not a bad thing in the hands of a good God; it sometimes is the instrument of growth, deliverance, and salvation!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO THE FARMERS IN SOUTHERN ALABAMA WERE HIT HARD BY SUFFERING. EACH YEAR THEY PLANTED THEIR ONLY CASH CROP - COTTON. THEY HAD ...
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