|This Changes Everything | Trouble is Temporary|
|April 21, 2012|
Part 3 of 4 | April 22, 2012
It won’t last forever. I know it feels like it will, but it won’t. It won’t last forever.
Everybody close your eyes for a minute. I promise that nothing weird is going to happen to you. I’m just asking you to close your eyes to help you really focus in on this.
With your eyes closed, I want you to think about the biggest struggle you’re facing right now. For most of us, it’s not going to take too long to think of it. It immediately came to mind.
Think about the biggest struggle, the biggest area of pain, the most uncertain thing you are facing. Life is not all peaches and cream. Where are you hurting and struggling the most?
Now that this is directly in your mind’s eye, let me slap this truth from God over top of it. It won’t last forever. Everyone in this room has a different “it.” But whatever your “it” is, whatever you’re facing, wherever you’re struggling, it won’t last forever. It is temporary.
That’s the truth that God has for us in His Word today. Let’s pray and we’ll get into the Bible.
This past week, Max Lucado posted this on Twitter. “Your troubles will not last forever, but you will.”
You are eternal. Your soul will last forever. Your troubles will not. They are temporary. Whatever your “it” is, it is temporary.
This is the third message in our series called This Changes Everything. We are talking about the event that literally changed everything in history and changes everything in our lives: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Our text for this series is in 1 Peter 1. Let’s get into God’s Word. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7, NIV)
How long did Peter say that we may have to suffer through all kinds of trials? How long do we have to endure grief and pain? For a little while.
I really like the way the old King James Version of the Bible says it. It says that we have to suffer these trials “for a season.”
You know what seasons do? They end. All of us have that one season of the year that we can’t stand. Maybe you can’t stand winter. I think you’re weird, but I know there’s a lot of you.
Maybe you’re like me and you can’t stand summer. I personally hate the heat of summer. I can’t stand 95 degree weather. Give me cold weather any day. When it’s cold, I can always put more clothes on. When it’s hot, there’s only so much I can take off.
Whatever your most hated season of the year is, all seasons share one thing in common. They all end. They are all temporary.
A lot of us are in a tough season of life right now. I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago. When I’m on vacation, I go off the grid. I don’t get on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t check my email. I go Amish. And by the way, you should do that, too. If you can’t go a week without being plugged in, you’re an addict. And if you think your company can’t survive if you don’t check your work email while you’re on vacation, you’re delusional.
Anyway, I completely logged out of everything during my vacation. When I came back to work, I logged into my email and, no surprise, I had a ton of messages waiting on me. But I was blown away by how many of these emails were about people that are hurting. Email after email after email, all about the pain and hurt that people are experiencing in their lives. And my first thought was, “Wow. Suffering never takes a vacation.”
But it is still temporary.
It is temporary because of what Peter said earlier in our text. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:3b-4a, NIV)
Because Jesus is alive…because we have a God who died for us but then rose for us…everything changes. The balance of power shifts. We no longer live lives that are dominated by the trouble and pain and hurt in this world. We live lives that are dominated by our risen and conquering King. And He has promised that our suffering will not last forever. It is temporary.
We’ve read this verse in every message in this series. In John 16, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)
Jesus is the risen, conquering King. When He walked out of that tomb, this world was overcome. You will have trouble in this world, but because your God is alive, that trouble is temporary.
But let’s be honest…a lot of people don’t hang on long enough to realize that their trouble is temporary.
In Matthew 13, Jesus told a story that really highlights this. Starting in verse 3, the Bible says, “Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:3-8, NIV)
Later on in Matthew 13, Jesus explains what this parable means.
Go to verse 18. Jesus said, “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:18-23, NIV)
Some people never accept the gospel. Some do, but then they fall away. And think about some of the reasons Jesus gave in this parable. He said that a lot of people will fall away because of trouble and persecution and the worries of this life. They walk away from the truth of the gospel because they don’t understand that these things are all temporary.
Go back to our verses in 1 Peter. Starting in verse 6, Peter said, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV)
Your faith in God will be tested. That’s what happens in the tough seasons. Peter said that it is in those tough seasons that our faith is refined. That’s when it is proved genuine.
If you believe that God is good only when life is good, then you are worshipping a false god: yourself. You’re only concerned with your happiness, while God is concerned with your holiness. And if God has to make you unhappy in order to make you holy, He’ll do it.
Peter reminds us that this is why we go through tough seasons. They are seasons of testing. They are seasons of refinement.
In Job 23, Job said, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when [not IF….WHEN] he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10, NIV)
If you know the story of Job, you know that he knew a thing or two about suffering. But he also understood that suffering has a purpose. It is how God refines us and purifies us and tests us.
In Romans 5, the Apostle Paul says it this way. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5, NIV)
Here’s what Joel Young wrote about these verses on his blog. “According to Paul, there is a cycle to suffering. When we suffer it isn’t for nothing. It is a cycle that will lead to character and eventually hope, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Something I have to continually train myself to do is to view suffering from the perspective of what it will become. In Christ, suffering is never what it seems to be in the moment. Rather, it is maturity, character, encouragement, life, and hope that has yet to blossom. But the question remains: will you be able to give it the time to grow into that?”
Your faith is of greater worth than gold. The most valuable thing you possess is your faith. Anything else can be taken from you. Your faith is the one thing you have that is permanent. And that’s why God will test that faith and shape that faith and refine that faith. Because He wants that faith to be a real faith.
But when the tough seasons come, a lot of people choose to walk. God is testing their faith, and their faith flunked. That’s why so many people walk away from God. It’s why so many people leave the church.
If a person walks away from the church because they didn’t like a decision the leaders made…or somebody hurt their feelings…or even because life roughed them up…Peter would say that their faith was tested and it was proven to be fake.
The depth of your faith is revealed when you find out what it will take for you to walk away from Jesus.
What is it for you? What would make you walk away? Would it be something petty, like somebody in the church hurting your feelings? I’ve got news for you…it’s going to happen. The church is filled with imperfect people, and imperfect people will disappoint you and hurt you. It’s going to happen.
Would it take something bigger? What if your finances fell apart? What if you lose someone you loved? What if you were facing death because of your faith?
Where is your line? What would it take for you to walk away from Jesus?
Here’s what we’ve all got to realize…it’s all temporary. Whatever happens, we can’t let it drive us away from Jesus because Jesus is eternal. Jesus is permanent. Our troubles are temporary. Don’t let the temporary rob you of the permanent.
Peter said that, “for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” We have to endure these things “for a season.”
We will suffer all kinds of trials. Some small. Some big. Some annoying. Some life-altering. But all of it only lasts “for a little while.” In the scope of eternity, anything that happens only lasts for a little while.
In Romans 8, Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18, NIV)
Whatever the “it” is in your life, it is temporary. But not only is it temporary, it’s also not even worth comparing to the good stuff that awaits you. Because Jesus is alive, hope is alive. Your reward is sure. And your trouble is temporary.
A couple of weeks ago on Easter Sunday, I took my family out for a fabulous Easter lunch…at McDonalds. Easter absolutely wipes me out. It’s a huge day. It’s a day that starts really early in the morning. We had multiple services. When I walk out of this place on a normal Sunday, I’m really tired. When I walk out on Easter, I feel like I’ve run a marathon. So several years ago, I was really honest with all of our extended family about this and they all agreed to move our family gatherings to a day other than Easter Sunday. It’s awesome for me.
But that also meant that my family had nowhere to go and nothing to do after church on Easter. We didn’t feel like cooking, so we went to lunch at one of the few places that was open…McDonalds.
And it was one of the worst visits to McDonalds that we’ve ever had. It took a long time to get our order. And when we finally did get it, over half of it was wrong. And it took even longer to get it corrected.
As we were waiting, I was so tired and I was getting so frustrated that I mumbled under my breath, “This is taking forever.”
Now honestly…that’s a dumb thing to say, isn’t it? This is taking forever? Really? We have no concept of how long forever is. If it was really taking forever, I wouldn’t be here today. I would still be at McDonalds waiting for them to get my order wrong again.
But because of fatigue and frustration, I lost my perspective. That’s happened to a lot of us in our lives, hasn’t it? You’re fatigued and you’re frustrated. You’re tired of getting hit. You’re tired of suffering. You’re tired of the constant uncertainty. And God’s silence on the matter has really got you frustrated. Your fatigue and your frustration has caused you to completely lose your perspective.
When it comes to your perspective, you can choose to look at your situation as a video or as a still photograph. They are both pictures, but a video is a moving picture. In a video, you don’t stay on one picture too long. This frame takes you to the next frame which takes you to the next frame. It’s constant motion. You are always moving closer to the conclusion.
But in a still shot, all you see is the moment. That moment is frozen in time. You can’t see what happens next. All you see is the moment.
Your life is a video, but Satan wants you to see it as a still shot. He wants you to get bogged down in the moment. The moment of pain. The moment of struggle. The moment of suffering. He doesn’t want you to see your life as a video that keeps moving. He doesn’t want you to see that God will use the moment of suffering in this frame to shape you and change you in the next frame and bring you victory in the next frame. If you could see that, you wouldn’t give up. You would hang on. You would persevere.
But if all you can see is the moment…if you see the still shot instead of the video…that’s when you’ll quit. That’s when you’ll give up. That’s when you’ll walk away.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV)
Trials will come. Suffering is inevitable. Pain is a reality. But we can endure for one reason.
Paul gives is the reason in verse 14. We persevere “because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.” (2 Corinthians 4:14, NIV)
It all comes back to the resurrection. Because Jesus is alive, everything changes…including the way I look at the pain and suffering in my life. Because Jesus is alive, I see my life as a video, not a freeze frame. And here’s what happens when we do that.
Starting in verse 16, Paul said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)
Video. Not still shot. In God’s plan, what you are suffering now in this frame is light and momentary compared to what He’s got in store for you in the next frame.
And when we finally get to the last frame in the video, it’s eternal. Your troubles are temporary. Jesus is eternal. And Jesus is our last frame.
There’s an incredible story in Acts 16 about Paul and Silas. Starting in verse 16, the Bible says, “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days.
Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:16-24, NIV)
So how do you feel right now if you’re Paul and Silas? You were on your way to a place of prayer. That’s good. You cast a demon out of a girl. That’s even better. And what did you get for it? You got arrested. Your clothes were stripped off and you were beaten with rods. Then you were thrown in jail and your feet were fastened in stocks, which was incredibly painful.
If you have a still shot photograph perspective, then you give up. No more Jesus for you. I did all this for Jesus, and this is what I got? I’m done.
But Paul and Silas had a video perspective. Look at the Bible says in the very next verse.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25, NIV)
Have you ever seen someone who has endured so much pain and hurt and suffering, but their faith seems to be stronger than ever? That’s a person that has a video perspective. They know this frame isn’t the last.
Paul and Silas had that perspective. Now, they didn’t know what was going to happen next. But they knew that this frame wasn’t their last.
Next verse. “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:26, NIV)
This is what our God does best. Open prison doors. Break chains. Set people free.
He allowed Paul and Silas to be imprisoned for a season. But it was just that…a season. And like we said earlier, seasons end.
This season is not the end for you. There is another frame. Your story is not over.
You have a God who died on a cross for you, but the cross wasn’t the last frame. After the crucifixion there was resurrection.
And because your God is alive, this frame is not the last one for you. If you’re in a season of doubt or pain or fear or uncertainty, that is not the end of your story. Jesus is the end of your story. And Jesus doesn’t leave His people in prison. Jesus sends earthquakes. Jesus throws open prison doors. Jesus breaks chains and gives freedom.
It may not be happening when you want or how you want, but in God’s time, it will happen. Your trouble is temporary. Your God is eternal. Who are you going to focus on? Who is going to become your perspective? Are you going to focus on the moment and allow your joy and your hope and your peace to be taken from you? Or are you going to focus on God, who was and is and is to come? Your God is timeless. Your God is limitless. Your God is eternal. And your God is here.
|< Prev||Next >|