Monday Reverb – 26February2024

WELCOME and THANKS for joining us



  • We are in the second week of the Easter Prep (Lenten) season, a time when we examine ourselves, seeking to prune the things that no longer serve us so God can grow new life.
  • The theme this week is trusting in God’s faithfulness.
  • The selected passages are Psalm 22:23-31 • Genesis 17:1-715-16 • Romans 4:13-25 • Mark 8:31-38  
    • The psalmist writes about God’s faithfulness and his supremacy over all.
    • In Genesis, we read about the unbelievable promises God made to Abraham.
    • In Romans, Paul writes about how God kept his promise to Abraham, the Father of the Faithful.
    • In the passage in Mark, Jesus speaks about the suffering he will faithfully endure in order to redeem humanity.





23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him!  All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.  

25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;  Those who seek Him will praise the LordLet your heart live forever!   

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You.  28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s, And He rules over the nations.  

29 All the prosperous of the earth Shall eat and worship;  All those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive.  

30 A posterity shall serve HimIt will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation; 31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.  

What kind of God do you picture when you read that passage … or hear that passage read?
Does it sound like a God who would forsake His Son?
NOTICE which Psalm the above passage is taken from.
Mark 15:33-34  Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
How do you understand that section in verse 34?
Do you know where that quote by Jesus came from?
… Psalm 22
… NOTICE how Psalm 22 begins …
Psalm 22:1-31

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.

But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

But am a worm, and no man;  
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They [b]shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
“He [c]trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.

14I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted [e]within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They[f] pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

19 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20Deliver Me from the sword,
My[g] precious life from the power of the dog.
21Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!

You have answered Me.

22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you [h]descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.

25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!

27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the [i]nations
Shall worship before [j]You.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to [k]the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

    • Jesus … as a man … was expressing how He was feeling, based on what He was experiencing.
    • The reality, however … as the later verses in the Psalm show … was very different.
      • Jesus, as a man, was feeling as if He had been forsaken.
      • The reality was that He hadn’t been.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”  
13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.  

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.   


34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”    

** Why would Jesus have to teach His disciples that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected and killed?
Notice the following excerpt from Barclay’s Commentary


Throughout all their existence the Jews never forgot that they were in a very special sense God’s chosen people. Because of that, they naturally looked to a very special place in the world. In the early days they looked forward to achieving that position by what we might call natural means.  They always regarded the greatest days in their history as the days of David; and they dreamed of a day when there would arise another king of David’s line, a king who would make them great in righteousness and in power. (Isa.9:7; Isa.11:1; Jer.22:4; Jer.23:5; Jer.30:9.)

But as time went on it came to be pitilessly clear that this dreamed-of greatness would never be achieved by natural means. The ten tribes were carried off to Assyria and lost forever. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and carried the Jews away captive. Then came the Persians as their masters; then the Greeks; then the Romans. So far from knowing anything like dominion, for centuries the Jews never even knew what it was to be completely free and independent.

So another line of thought grew up. It is true that the idea of a great king of David’s line never entirely vanished and was always intertwined in some way with their thought; but more and more they began to dream of a day when God would intervene in history and achieve by supernatural means that which natural means could never achieve. They looked for divine power to do what human power was helpless to do.  

In between the Testaments were written a whole flood of books which were dreams and forecasts of this new age and the intervention of God. As a class they are called Apocalypses. The word literally means unveilings. These books were meant to be unveilings of the future. It is to them that we must turn to find out what the Jews believed in the time of Jesus about the Messiah and the work of the Messiah and the new age. It is against their dreams that we must set the dream of Jesus.

In these books certain basic ideas occur. We follow here the classification of these ideas given by Schurer, who wrote A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ.

(i) Before the Messiah came there would be a time of terrible tribulation. There would be a Messianic travail. It would be the birth-pangs of a new age. Every conceivable terror would burst upon the world; every standard of honour and decency would be torn down; the world would become a physical and moral chaos.

“And honour shall be turned into shame, And strength humiliated into contempt, And probity destroyed, And beauty shall become ugliness… And envy shall rise in those who had not thought aught of themselves, And passion shall seize him that is peaceful, And many shall be stirred up in anger to injure many, And they shall rouse up armies in order to shed blood, And in the end they shall perish together with them.” (2 Baruch 27.)

There would be, “quakings of places, tumult of peoples, schemings of nations, confusion of leaders, disquietude of princes.” (4 Ezra 9: 3.)

“From heaven shall fall fiery words down to the earth. Lights shall come, bright and great, flashing into the midst of men; and earth, the universal mother, shall shake in these days at the hand of the Eternal. And the fishes of the sea and the beasts of the earth and the countless tribes of flying things and all the souls of men and every sea shall shudder at the presence of the Eternal and there shall be panic. And the towering mountain peaks and the hiEs of the giants he shall rend, and the murky abyss shall be visible to all. And the high ravines in the lofty mountains shall be full of dead bodies and rocks shall flow with blood and each torrent shall flood the plain…. And God shall judge all with war and sword, and there shall be brimstone from heaven, yea stones and rain and hail incessant and grievous. And death shall be upon the four-footed beasts…. Yea the land itself shall drink of the blood of the perishing and beasts shall eat their fill of flesh.” (The Sibylline Oracles 3: 363 ff.)

The Mishnah enumerates as signs that the coming of the Messiah is near,

“That arrogance increases, ambition shoots up, that the vine yields fruit yet wine is dear. The government turns to heresy. There is no instruction. the synagogue is devoted to lewdness. Galilee is destroyed, Gablan laid waste. The inhabitants of a district go from city to city without finding compassion. The wisdom of the learned is hated, the godly despised, truth is absent. Boys insult old men, old men stand in the presence of children. The son depreciates the father, the daughter rebels against the mother, the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law. A man’s enemies are his house-fellows.”

The time which preceded the coming of the Messiah was to be a time when the world was torn in pieces and every bond relaxed. The physical and the moral order would collapse.

(ii) Into this chaos there would come Elijah as the forerunner and herald of the Messiah. He was to heal the breaches and bring order into the chaos to prepare the way for the Messiah. in particular he was to mend disputes. In fact the Jewish oral law laid it down that money and property whose ownership was disputed, or anything found whose owner was unknown, must wait “till Elijah comes.” When Elijah came the Messiah would not be far behind.

(iii) Then there would enter the Messiah. The word Messiah and the word Christ mean the same thing. Messiah is the Hebrew and Christ is the Greek for the Anointed One. A king was made king by anointing and the Messiah was God’s Anointed King. It is important to remember that Christ is not a name; it is a title. Sometimes the Messiah was thought of as a king of David’s line, but more often he was thought of as a great, super-human figure crashing into history to remake the world and in the end to vindicate God’s people.

(iv) The nations would ally themselves and gather themselves together against the champion of God.

“The kings of the nations shall throw themselves against this land bringing retribution on themselves. They shall seek to ravage the shrine of the mighty God and of the noblest men whensoever they come to the land. In a ring round the city the accursed kings shall place each one his throne with his infidel people by him. And then with a mighty voice God shall speak unto all the undisciplined, empty-minded people and judgment shall come upon them from the mighty God, and all shall perish at the hand of the Eternal.” (Sibylline Oracles 3: 363-372.)

“It shall be that when all the nations hear his (the Messiah’s) voice, every man shall leave his own land and the warfare they have one against the other, and an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together desiring to fight against him.” (4 Ezra 13: 33-35.)

(v) The result would be the total destruction of these hostile powers. Philo said that the Messiah would “take the field and make war and destroy great and populous nations.”

“He shall reprove them for their ungodliness, Rebuke them for their unrighteousness, Reproach them to their faces with their treacheries– And when he has rebuked them he shall destroy them.” (4 Ezra 12: 32-33.)

“And it shall come to pass in those days that none shall be saved, Either by gold or by silver, And none shall be able to escape. And there shall be no iron for war, Nor shall one clothe oneself with a breastplate. Bronze shall be of no service, And tin shall not be esteemed, And lead shall not be desired. And all things shall be destroyed from the surface of the earth.” (Enoch 5 2: 7-9.)

The Messiah will be the most destructive conqueror in history, smashing his enemies into utter extinction.

(vi) There would follow the renovation of Jerusalem. Sometimes this was thought of as the purification of the existing city. More often it was thought of as the coming down of the new Jerusalem from heaven. The old house was to be folded up and carried away, and in the new one, “All the pillars were new and the ornaments larger than those of the first.” (Enoch 90: 28-29.)

(vii) The Jews who were dispersed all over the world would be gathered into the city of the new Jerusalem. To this day the Jewish daily prayer includes the petition, “Lift up a banner to gather our dispersed and assemble us from the four end?, of the earth.” The eleventh of the Psalms of Solomon has a noble picture of that return.

“Blow ye in Zion on the trumpet to summon the saints, Cause ye to be heard in Jerusalem the voice of him that bringeth good tidings; For God hath had pity on Israel in visiting them. Stand on the height, O Jerusalem, and behold thy children, From the East and the West, gathered together by the Lord, From the North they come in the gladness of their God, From the isles afar off God hath gathered them. High mountains hath he abased into a plain for them; The hills fled at their entrance. The woods gave them shelter as they passed by; Every sweet-smelling tree God caused to spring up for them, That Israel might pass by in the visitation of the glory of their God. Put on, O Jerusalem, thy glorious garments; Make ready thy holy robe; For God hath spoken good for Israel forever and ever, Let the Lord do what he hath spoken concerning Israel and Jerusalem; Let the Lord raise up Israel by his glorious name. The mercy of the Lord be upon Israel forever and ever.”

It can easily be seen how Jewish this new world was to be. The nationalistic element is dominant all the time.

(viii) Palestine would be the centre of the world and the rest of the world subject to it. All the nations would be subdued.

Sometimes it was thought of as a peaceful subjugation.

“And all the isles and the cities shall say, How doth the Eternal love those men! For all things work in sympathy with them and help them…. Come let us all fall upon the earth and supplicate the eternal King, the mighty, everlasting God. Let us make procession to his Temple, for he is the sole Potentate.” (Sibylline Oracles 3: 690 ff.)

More often the fate of the Gentiles was utter destruction at which Israel would exult and rejoice.

“And he will appear to punish the Gentiles, And he will destroy all their idols. Then, thou, O Israel, shalt be happy. And thou shalt mount upon the necks and the wings of the eagle (i.e., Rome, the eagle, is to be destroyed) And they shall be ended and God will exalt thee.

“And thou shalt look from on high And see thine enemies in Gehenna, And thou shalt recognize them and rejoice.” (Assumption of Moses 10: 8-10.)

It was a grim picture. Israel would rejoice to see her enemies broken and in hell. Even the dead Israelites were to be raised up to share in the new world.

(ix) Finally, there would come the new age of peace and goodness which would last forever.

These are the Messianic ideas which were in the minds of men when Jesus came. They were violent, nationalistic, destructive, vengeful. True, they ended in the perfect reign of God, but they came to it through a bath of blood and a career of conquest. Think of Jesus set against a background like that. No wonder he had to re-educate his disciples in the meaning of Messiahship; and no wonder they crucified him in the end as a heretic. There was no room for a cross and there was little room for suffering love in a picture like that.


A Dead-End Road … Heber Ticas


A Dead-End Road
Heber Ticas 

Have you ever had the experience of following someone in a car when you didn’t know your way around?  Before the days of GPS this would be an exercise of trust.  When I’m driving, I like to make the decisions.  I feel confident in my sense of direction and how to find my way around.  So, when I must follow someone else, it is easy to second-guess their choices.  Especially when the person turns down a road that I think will lead in the wrong direction.  For example, what would you do if the person you were following suddenly turned down a road that was marked “Dead End?”  I would probably start honking at them and flashing my lights in protest.

In some ways, this is our experience in following Christ.  Being a disciple means we follow him because we trust him.  But then he leads us down roads that are clearly marked “Dead End.”  Surely Jesus knows better than to go in that direction!  So, we start honking our horns and flashing our lights to warn him of his mistake.  Have you ever been there?

Jesus’ first disciples reacted in much the same way when he told them he was going to travel down a dead-end road to Jerusalem.  The long-awaited Messiah made it clear that he was going to travel the road of suffering, rejection and deathFor Peter especially, this was a hard road to follow, yet he didAs we follow Jesus, we too will have to follow him down roads that we would rather avoid.

Listen to Jesus’ description of being his disciple:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Mark 8:34b-35 (NRSV)  

That’s not exactly the road map I would draw up for myself.  But as we follow Jesus, we come to trust that he knows the way far better than we do, even if it looks like a dead-end roadIn fact, he tells us that he is the wayBecause of who he is, we can follow him no matter where he leads.  And that is especially true when he travels down a dead-end road.

Mi nombre es Heber Ticas, Hablando de la Vida.


The Gift of Suffering

Mark 8:31-38 NIV

A father brings his one-year-old daughter to the pediatrician for a checkup.  The doctor informs the dad that it is a good time for the little one to get her first vaccination for measles.  The father loves his daughter and wants to protect her, so he agrees to let his daughter receive the injection.  When the nurse comes in with a little tray, the little girl feels like something is going on and begins to get upset.  When the nurse administers the injection, the daughter screams out in pain and cries miserably.  She looks to her father and uses her simple words to ask for help, but all he can do is hold her; he can’t stop the pain of the injection.  A look of confusion comes across the little girl’s face.  She cannot understand why her father would allow this to happen to her.  Although the vaccination is good for his daughter and could save her life, the father knows that his little girl has to suffer in order to receive it.

Does this scene sound familiar?  If you are a parent, you’ve likely experienced something like this.  If you want to become rich, open a candy store or ice cream shop right next to a pediatrician’s office!  There would be a continual stream of parents treating their children to sweets to help ease their guilt.  Deep within the wiring of human beings is the desire to avoid suffering — both our own suffering and the suffering of those we care about.  Even when the suffering serves a good purpose — like protecting us from a disease that still kills thousands of people globally every year — we would rather avoid any pain or discomfort.  Of course, it is wise to avoid pain when possible, however, it is unwise to think that we are able to avoid all pain.

Despite the fact that suffering is part of the human condition, many people, to some extent, have distanced themselves from God because he “allows” human suffering.  For most of us, if something feels bad, it is bad.  It is hard for us to accept that something good could cause suffering.  If we are honest with ourselves, all of us would probably admit to sometimes looking at God with the same confusion as the little girl in the doctor’s office.  There was a time when in our pain, we turned to God for relief, but the relief did not come when or how we wanted it.  We asked God, “If you love me — if you are truly good — then why would you let this happen?”  Perhaps you are feeling this way as you hear (read) this sermon.

Given the universality of suffering, Jesus taught on the topicWhat Christ says about suffering provides his followers with both comfort and guidance on how to endure suffering.  Let’s look at Mark 8:31-38:

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.  “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”  Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:31-38 NIV)

Jesus, understanding how hard it is for humans to grasp the concept of necessary and good suffering, wanted to prepare his disciples for what would befall the Son of Man.  He taught them plainly, meaning he did not use stories or parables, because he wanted them to understand.  Predictably, they did not understand.  Peter loved Jesus and rejected the idea of his Lord willingly submitting to being tortured and unlawfully executed.  In the disciple’s mind, Jesus’ crucifixion was easily avoidable.  Notwithstanding Jesus’ miraculous power, he had enough followers to strenuously resist any arrest by the corrupt Jewish leaders.  Plus, he could have simply left Jerusalem.  Jesus could have easily avoided capture for years.  This was likely going through Peter’s mind as he pulled Jesus aside to admonish him.

Before we start throwing stones at Peter, most of us would do the same thing.  Put yourself in Peter’s shoes.  Imagine if one of your closest friends told you that they were going to submit to suffering and a death that could easily be avoided.  If you are like me, you would have said anything to get them to reject what they believed God was telling them to do.  In the desert, after Jesus’ 40-day fast, the Tempter tried to lure Jesus into taking the easy way out of his calling.  He offered Christ a crown without the crossOut of misguided love, Peter’s words were tempting Jesus to accept the enemy’s offer.  This is why Jesus called Peter “Satan” in that moment.  Without knowing it, Peter was allied with the Tempter.

When we assume that the suffering endured by us or a loved one is bad or pointless, without first seeking God’s mind and heart on the matter, we make the same mistake Peter made.  To be clear, not all suffering is good.  For instance, suffering as a result of abuse or neglect is not good.  While God can make good come out of a bad situation, suffering caused by dehumanization is simply not good.  At the same time, pain can sometimes have a purpose.  This is important to keep in mind, because Jesus promised that his followers would suffer for his sake.  In a society that is actively trying to alleviate all discomfort for those with adequate resources, Christ’s promise of suffering is hard to swallow.  Yet, if we truly try to live like Christ, we will experience suffering just as he did.

  • When we ally ourselves with the poor like Jesus, we will suffer like the poor.
  • When we love the stranger like Jesus, we will suffer like the stranger.
  • When we humbly serve the powerless like Jesus, we will suffer like the powerless.
  • The way of Christ is not the way of this world and those who follow him will suffer.

To talk about our suffering, Jesus used the metaphor of taking up our cross and following him.  The cross was both horrible and beautiful.  It was a source of shame and a source of glory.  It is something that had to happen, regardless of any human desire otherwise.  This is the image that Jesus used to describe our suffering for his sake.  This should cast our suffering for Christ’s sake in new light.

To those who are suffering, it is easy to only perceive the pain. However, because God is working within our situation, there will always be grace and beauty to be foundIn Christ, our suffering is never pointless and never wasted.

In order to be like Christ, even in his suffering, Jesus says that we must deny ourselves.  In this case, denying ourselves means resisting the natural inclination to move towards comfort and painlessness — to accept the Devil’s offer of a crown without a cross.  The way of Christ will always move us outside of our comfort zone. His way will move us towards conflict with those who dehumanize our neighbor.  His way will cause us to rejoice in the hope of a future reunion when our loved ones get sick and die.  This is one of the keys to enduring suffering, and where Peter made his critical error in understanding.

In the midst of our pain, we need to turn to God so he can help us have his concerns in mind, not merely human concerns.  Instead of telling God we are in pain and asking him to take it away, we could try praying, “Father, I am hurting.  Could you please end my suffering.  However, if my pain has a purpose, please reveal it so that I can endure with joy and contentment.”  Denying ourselves means laying aside our instinct to judge all suffering as bad, because in this present evil age the children of God will experience suffering.

There is also good news in taking up our cross and suffering like Christ.  Jesus’ instructions are to follow him as you bear your crossThat means that he is with you.

  • In fact, it means that Jesus is going before you.
  • Whatever situation you are walking into has already been scouted by the Son.
  • He has gone before you and removed anything that could destroy you.
  • Jesus himself has entered your trial and ensured that there is a way out.
  • Whatever human beings have planned for you, Jesus has already promised your victory in this life or the next.
  • What are their plans compared to his promise?  If God be for you who can be against you?

May we take comfort in our suffering knowing that Jesus is with us, and he goes before us.


Small Group Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think it is hard for us to accept that suffering is a part of the human condition?
    • Blessings and Cursings syndrome
    • We tend to associate suffering with bad.
  • Think about the important life lessons you learned.  Were any of them learned through suffering?
    • ???
    • Story of father who told his son to jump and he’d catch him … but he didn’t … son learned that he shouldn’t trust everybody (I’m not sure it’s a true story)
  • Do you think there was any other way for you to learn that lesson?
    • More than likely … but it’d probably take a lot longer to learn the lesson
  • Can you think of a situation when you thought your suffering was bad at the time but later you realized that what you were experiencing was good?
    • Think relationships



Given that … the theme for this week is Trusting in God’s Faithfulness  and the titile of the sermon is The Gift of suffering … what message are you getting?









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