A number of years ago I began listening to sermons. Frankly, it began because of a pastor who was a poor preacher and I needed to get fed somewhere, so started looking for sermons. Many churches now post audio and/or video sermons and it’s interesting to hear different styles and perspectives.
On a recent business trip, and because there was truly nothing on TV, I pulled up a sermon by John Piper. He was preaching about 1 Peter and a section at the end of his sermon I found helpful.
Piper was reflecting that we all experience anguish. Suffering of varying degrees happens to everyone and the scripture actually encourages us to “rejoice while you are being grieved with trials.”
When a crisis happens in the world where people die or are in terrible situations, he is concerned that so many Christians instinctively say it is God’s plan. “God doesn’t have purposes in this, that in a purposeful way or design way chooses to cause suffering.”
Further, Piper believes there are six to ten purposes for suffering in the Bible that are true for God’s people. But they’re not personal. They’re not designed to get “into the granular” of why me or why now. They are not chosen to prove a point to an individual. That suffering exists for us all. When we go through trials, we are honored for our faith and our faithfulness. “That is more valuable to God than our comfort in this life.”
It’s hard to understand why bad things happen and why some seem to endure more than their share. But I’ve also never believed in a “Gotcha God” who inflicts pain to make a point. Bad things are going to happen and our role is simply to be faithful.