Volume. XXIV, No. 16
Sunday, 18 October 2009


Suffering


Why is there so much suffering in this world? Why should people be afflicted by tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, famines, bushfires and diseases? Why should people afflict other people through torture, bombing, rampant shooting, putting them in gas chambers and so on? As Christians who know the Bible we know the reason behind all this, yet even we also sometimes still ask why, because some of the sufferings that people, whom we consider as innocent, go through are just too hard to comprehend.

 
About six years ago, in January 2003, I preached a message on sufferings and I felt that I should repeat some of these things now as I can see so much suffering going on in this world. The whole world seems to be in a chaotic condition with all the miseries that are going on. It is reeling under floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, bushfires, pandemics, recession and so on. Christians as well as non-Christians are suffering.
 
Because of so much suffering going in the world, many people question the existence of God. This is because they do not know the Bible or accept the Bible as God’s Word. But godly Christians, who know the Word of God, accept sufferings in their lives, as they know the reasons why God has allowed sufferings to come. As Christians we know that God cursed the ground because of Adam & Eve’s rebellion against him. Adam and Eve were also subject to the curse of death in their bodies. And since they gave themselves into the hands of Satan, Satan became the ruler of this world and his main aim is to see God’s plan to redeem mankind foiled. So he works in the minds of men and causes them to do evil deeds. And because of man’s wickedness, God allows nature to take its own course and hence the natural calamities. But God is still in control.
 
So mankind living in a fallen world is subject to the natural events that occur in this world and also to the evil desires within himself which cause him to go about doing evil things and thus bringing more misery upon himself and upon other human beings.
But God in His mercy has restrained many people from going to the extremes of evil deeds and also restrained the forces of nature from creating too much havoc, which will destroy all of humanity. God also in His mercy has chosen some people to come to the knowledge of the truth by working in their hearts to bring about repentance and to turn to Jesus for salvation. To these people God has also said that in this world they will face tribulation. And just as Jesus suffered, His people would also suffer in this world.
 
John the Baptist spoke about Jesus saying that He would baptize His people with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). Not only with the Holy Spirit but also with fire – with the refining fire of suffering. Just as gold is purified by immersing or being baptized in fire, so also will be the case with true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the book of Malachi, it says that Jesus “shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3). In the end time the Jews will go through a time of great suffering in order that they turn to the Lord and so be purified. In a similar way the Lord purifies us by allowing us to go through fiery trials. Also Jesus told His Apostles, James and John, that they would be baptized with the same baptism that Jesus would be baptized with, which is the baptism of suffering (Matthew 20:23).
 
Believers are told that they should not be surprised when fiery trials come their way as though something strange is happening to them (1 Peter 4:12), but that they should rejoice in that fact, because the trials come to test our faith. If a believer is not tested then how will anyone know that he is a true believer? But when a person passes the test by fire, then it is clearly evident that he is truly a son of God and being perfected so that he is ultimately changed into the image of the Son of God.
 
Beloved, every believer will have to face tribulations. Sometimes they can be in the form of persecutions by non-Christians and by wicked people. We should all know the horrific persecution that the Christian Church went through in the first three centuries, first by the Jews and then by the Romans. In fact all throughout the ages until now Christians have been facing persecution and there were periods of time when it was carried out in a mass scale like during the time of reformation in the 15th and 16th century. “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” gives a vivid account of the many heroic Christians who were tortured because of their faith throughout the ages. There have been many missionaries who went out into foreign countries knowing that they would suffer many tribulations and also be persecuted and yet they persevered in their mission to spread the Gospel in spite of the circumstances. Just recently I read a book on Adoniram Judson, the first missionary from the then newly formed nation, the USA. He and his wife Anne, sailed out to Burma to spread the Gospel. The amount of trials they faced in their journey and in Burma is just incredible. They were constantly being afflicted by sickness because of the living conditions there. They lost all their 3 children and finally Anne also died. There is also an account of how Adoniram was put in prison and tortured. He was never given a bed to sleep. Instead every night he and other prisoners were hung up by their legs! This happened for nearly a year and then he was finally released. In spite of all these and many other trials, Adoniram managed to make a complete translation of the Bible into the Burmese language and also write a Burmese grammar book.
 
Beloved we may go through the worst trials that can ever be inflicted upon us. But the Bible refers to them as just light momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17). And these light momentary afflictions are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). In that day when we are in God’s Kingdom, with our souls embodied in a supernatural body that will never see corruption, and when we see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face in all His glorious splendour and majesty and we also sit with him as priests and kings and reigning along with him for all eternity, these few years of life on earth with all its grief, sorrow and pain will all seem to be so distant and almost forgotten memories. In God’s everlasting Kingdom there shall be no sickness nor sorrow nor pain nor death and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).
 
O dear friend, just look to Jesus and toward eternity when you are weighed down with sorrows. I know it can be hard when we are afflicted by sickness or when we lose a dearly loved one or some calamity suddenly overtakes us. This happened to Job, who was the richest person one day and the next day became worse than a pauper, having lost everything in just one day . Then to add to his sorrows, he was bedridden and covered with sores and adding further insult to injury were his three friends who were his miserable comforters tormenting him with words of accusations against his character. But he trusted in God, believing that when God has tried him then he will come forth as gold (Job 23:10), purified from all its dross and other impurities.
 
I have realised in my own life that it was during times of trials that I have been really drawn closer to God. And I could really know His love for me and understand in some measure the sufferings that Jesus Christ suffered for our sake. It was through testing that God was cleansing me, pruning me, chiseling away the hard and rough edges. Though it is painful it is necessary as God does not want to see his child grow wild and does not want to see his workmanship having rough edges. He wants to see His own image being reflected in His creation. If God had not allowed afflictions to come my way, I would have gone astray, just as Kind David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67) and again in Psalm 119:71, he says “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes”.
 
So dearly beloved, do not lose heart in times of trials and sufferings. Your dear Heavenly Father will see you through. You are very precious in His sight.
 
Dn. Edwin D’Mello

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements
Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Lucas Yiew
Next Lord’s Day Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Bro Yick Ho Lam
Please note: No fellowship lunch next Lord’s Day. Only Coffee & Cookies.
Bible Witness available on literature table. Please help yourself to a copy.
Please note: Working Bees is on Saturday, 31 Oct, and not next week. Sanctuary setup roster changed.
 
Looking Ahead
Baptism, Re-affirmation, Membership Transfer on 25 Oct.
Christmas Concert: Sat, 5 Dec 2009.
Bible-Presbyterian National Youth Camp 8 - 12 Dec, Perth.
 
Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Ps & Sis Ki (Adl); Bro Chris & Jenni Budiman & family (S’pore/Jakarta); Bro Wai Kin & Sis Mavis Wong & family (Adl); Bro Raphael (Pt Aug/Adl); Sisters Sheila Chalil, Smrithi George, Shilsa Ninian, Iris Surman, Lydia Tan & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl) & all others who arrived safely at their destinations.
Church activities: Reformed H&A Class; BSAG, Joy & Maranatha Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; Chinese Ministry; Choir practices; Sparks4Christ; & YAF Bible Study.
Daily mercies, protection, and guidance.
 
Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Alan Marion, Len & Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Fred Volvricht & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong’s mother, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Myung Ki (& her father - S Korea), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Sonya Rand (UK); Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.
Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province); Hopefuls in S’pore; Teo family (Kuching).
Special Prayer: Bro Surish Dharmalingam - family & ministry in Vientiane (Laos) & Siem Pang (Cambodia).
Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim.
IBPFM (USA) - For missionaries & funds
Pastor Weng & family & ministry.
Journey mercies: Bro Peter & Sis Mary Ting & family (Adl); Bro Raphael Ng (Pt Aug/Adl); Sis Lai Kheng Cheong (KL) & all others who are travelling.
Ministry in New Life BPC (London) - Ps & Sis Ki.
Year 12 students (Exams) - Bros Joshua Chung, Vabhav Sankey & Jason Teng.
Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Hui Wei Chua, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Corinne Teng.
Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Kim Tan (Melb) & Susan Weng.
God’s comfort, strength, guidance & care: Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.
Preaching in Korean Presbyterian Church today. - Ps Ki
Bro Raymond Ang (Re-affirmation of Faith) & Sis Felicia Tan (Membership transfer) next week.
Session Meeting - for God’s wisdom & guidance.

 

 

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