Making Sense of Suffering
Join R.C. Sproul and Derek Thomas on January 22-23, 2010, at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, Fla., as they discuss suffering and the sovereignty of God. This is one conference you won’t want to miss. Register now.
Dr. Derek Thomas, excerpt from ”The Invisible Hand: 2004 Seattle Conference:”
You find yourself in trouble, and you go to the book of Job to get answers and help, right? And what do you get when you go to the book of Job? This is what you get: “You must learn to submit to Me.” That’s what God says. “I love you. I love you with all my heart. There is no questioning of My love for you in Jesus Christ. My covenant promises are yea and amen in Jesus Christ. Having begun a good work, I will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ, but I have never promised you that you will have life without pain. I have never promised you that you will never experience trial or suffering. I have never promised to you that terrible things won’t happen to you or to your children. I’ve never done that.” And you see, my friends, we say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” or “Make me a servant, Lord,” or “Sanctify me, Lord.” Do you understand that in order to bring that about this is what it may mean? Be careful what you pray for. Do you want to be holy? Do you want to be one of the holiest people in all the world? Be careful if you pray that prayer, because it may mean that God may send you through the fires of trial to remove the dross so that from out of the crucible may emerge something that’s pure and something that’s lovely, and something that’s attractive.
Some of you are saying as you endeavor to integrate the providence of God into your own lives or tragedies that things will never be the same again, and in a sense they won’t because every moment is unique. There is a sense in which nothing will ever be the same again. We live in a world that changes. But you know, God can do the most astonishing things, things you never dreamt about, things at the moment that you cannot see. At the moment you’re saying, “I don’t understand what God is doing in my life.” And that is true. And if you don’t understand it, I’m not going to understand it either. But you know my friends, it’s not important that you understand it. What’s important is that He understands it. God’s ways are past finding out. God’s ways are incomprehensible.
There may well be things that God has done in our lives and the intricacies of providence that will take you a million years to try and figure out, and you still won’t understand it. And it’ll be ok because you will say every moment of your existence, it is for the glory of God. It is for the glory of God. And that’s my purpose here; to live for the glory of God no matter what happens.
God did some wonderful things for Job, and at the end he had ten children. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? They weren’t the same children. He would visit those graves, I’m sure for the rest of his life. You notice some of the names he gives in Job 42:14. They are delightful Hebrew names. They’re full of joy. They’re full of happiness. They’re full of well-being. You know what that’s saying? It’s saying God brought Job through all of this. Yes, God did that. Not by giving to him the knowledge that he was asking for. No, but teaching him how to be a good disciple and teaching him to trust God. That’s the issue, isn’t it, when it comes to the providence of God and our relationship to evil and pain and suffering? Do you trust Him? Do you trust the Lord when he takes away your child? Do you trust the Lord when you discover your spouse has been unfaithful to you? Do you trust the Lord when a dear, dear friend lets you down? Do you trust the Lord when you lose your job? Do you trust the Lord when the word cancer is uttered? That’s the issue. That’s what it means at the end of the day. Will you be My disciple?