Friday, August 15, 2008

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Over the past year our church family at Arrowsmith Baptist has gone through an incredible amount of suffering, tragedy and loss. The most recent has been the accident and paralysis of our dear brother in Christ Alvin Schulz. As we pray for his family in these days of trial, I praise the Lord for the depth of faith and trust his wife Judi has shown in our most sovereign God. In her most recent email she wrote:

"I have great hope in God and rejoice in the day He has given us. There will be many things that will come our way and hurtles that will seem like mountains but our trust is in the Lord. God did not say it would be an easy road. Please continue to pray for us. We will only be able to do this through His strength. I wanted you to know that I am taking joy in what I can and proclaiming God."

By God's providence this coming Sunday I will be preaching on "The Joy of Suffering" from 1 Peter 4:12-19. This is the text the Lord put on my heart last May to put on my sermon schedule for this coming Sunday. He is always one step ahead of us.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19)

Here is an audio clip from a pastor's conference I attended a few years ago regarding the faith of Adoniram and Ann Judson in God's sovereignty and providence in the midst of their personal sufferings. May we learn from them - and from Judi - in the days ahead.

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