Why Do Good People Suffer?


Text: Hebrews 12:4-14


Write on board: SIN DISCIPLINE GOLD

 

I.         We see and experience problems as we go through life.

            A.        Sometimes we wonder why these things happen.

            B.        If a person is trying to be good, why doesn’t God protect him from evil?

II.        First, what do we mean by “good”

            A.        Technically, only God is good - Luke 18:19

            B.        In God there is not even a shadow of darkness - I John 1:5

            C.        In contrast, we are unable to live without sinning at times - I John 1:8, Romans 3:23

            D.        When we ask “Why me?” we are implying that we have no responsibility for the problems we sometimes face.

                        1.         This might be true at times, but I’ve seen people say, “Why am I being evicted from my apartment?” Perhaps it is because you are behind on paying your rent.

                        2.         People tend to ignore or make light of their own responsibilities.

            E.        Yet there are times that bad things happen, which are totally out of our control.

                        1.         Still, we shouldn’t say that these things should not happen because we are too good to experience them.

            F.        One of the things that the Bible teaches us is that sin has consequences – whether we are referring to our own sin or the sins of another.

                        1.         Jeremiah lamented that their fathers and sin, yet they still bore the consequences - Lamentations 5:7

                        2.         This is not to say they were being punished for the sins of their fathers.

                        3.         Notice in Jeremiah 31:28-30. God is saying they are suffering for continuing in the sins of their fathers.

                        4.         People so often think they are different - Matthew 23:29-36

III.       Second, what do we mean by “suffer”

            A.        When bad things happen to us, we often reflect that we are being punished.

            B.        Bad times are not pleasant, but unpleasant times can have benefits - Hebrews 12:4-14

            C.        When someone desires to run a marathon, is it fun to get out and run many miles every day? In the rain, in the heat, or when you are tired?

                        1.         Why do people do it? Because winning a race requires discipline. Making muscles move, even in adverse conditions

                        2.         We are in a race for salvation. To reach the finish line, we must exercise discipline - I Corinthians 9:24-27

            D.        Discipline is not only self-induced, it is also imposed on us to improve us.

                        1.         We make our children do chores. It is certainly not because we want to get out of work. Often we could do it ourselves faster, better, and with less grief.

                        2.         Yet, we tell our children they must do their chores, they must do their homework, even when they don’t want to, because it will benefit them - Proverbs 29:15

                        3.         It is done out of love for our children, though the children don’t understand it until years later. - Proverbs 13:24

            E.        God disciplines us by the rough times in life

                        1.         It builds up our spiritual muscles - James 1:3-4

                        2.         It doesn’t last forever, nor are you the only one facing it - I Peter 5:8-10

                        3.         We will not be disappointed with the outcome - Romans 5:3-5

IV.      We have begun to address the real issue, “Why does it happen?”

            A.        Trials are proof of our faith - I Peter 1:6-9

                        1.         How do we know we faith until is measured against trials?

                        2.         Peter thought he would never deny Jesus - Luke 22:31-33

                        3.         But that very night, Peter did what he thought he would never do - Luke 22:60-62

            B.        Notice that Peter compares our trials to the refining of silver or gold. Zechariah referred to the early persecution of the church as a time of refining - Zechariah 13:7-9

                        1.         Afflictions is a period of testing - Isaiah 48:9-10

                        2.         Pure gold is not found lying around, waiting to be pocketed.

                                    a.         Rocks containing metals are gathered and crushed.

                                    b.         They are layered in charcoal with air blown over them to get them fiery hot.

                                                (1)       The heat breaks down the undesirable elements.

                                                (2)       The air oxides them so they easy crumble away or are leached with acid solutions.

                                    c.         In these days, it was hard to get fires hot enough to melt melts, such as gold or silver, so other metals were mixed in and the reaction caused a lower of the melting-point - Ezekiel 22:17-22. What is left behind is dross

                                    d.         Then through a series of steps, the purified metals are separated because of their different melting-points.

                        3.         Even then, the metal is not pure. It has been smelted, but not refined.

                                    a.         To get really fine gold, a flux was placed on small wafers of gold. The gold is passed though a hot fire and the non-gold elements would react (oxidize).

                                    b.         An acid bath would removed the oxidized elements, wafer pounded out to bring more to the surface and the process repeated.

                        4.         What is interesting is that for this to work, the gold had to be heated to a temperature were it almost, but not quite melts.

                                    a.         Too hot, and the gold drips into your coals and you have to start all over.

                                    b.         Too cool and the non-gold elements will not oxidize.

                                    c.         As the bar becomes purer and purer gold, the needed temperature rises. Ultimately, pure gold doesn’t melt until the temperature reaches nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. But impure gold bars will melt at a much lower temperature.

            C.        Recall that the trials we face are to refine us like gold.

                        1.         At first, we will not be able to handle great tests - I Corinthians 10:13

                        2.         But as we become purer, the trials must increase if they are going to be effective in refining us.

                        3.         Consider Abraham.

                                    a.         The first trial we read about is God asking him to leave home and travel to a land which God would show him later.

                                    b.         He is then told he would have a child, but then is made to wait 25 years for its fulfillment.

                                    c.         He is then told to sacrifice that child.

                                    d.         Each trial was harder than then last, but Abraham came through a stronger man of God - Romans 4:17-22

                                                (1)       Notice that it doesn’t say Abraham overcame because he had great faith.

                                                (2)       It says he grew strong in faith. It came by a series of trails. Abraham’s faith was refined by God in the fires of adversity.

            D.        We should not think that being tested is some strange, unusual thing - I Peter 4:12-13

V.        Sufferings, bad times, trials are not going to disappear

            A.        Some will be due to our own flaws – the consequences of our sins.

            B.        Some will be there to discipline us – to keep us on the strait and narrow

            C.        Some will be there to refine us like gold.

                        1.         The scary part is that refinement means we are able to handle more responsibility and are therefore more accountable.

                        2.         The trials to refine us will become greater as God seeks to perfect us.

            D.        God never gives us something we can’t handle, but it means we can expect harder trials as our life progresses.