EDGE ’09 #3 – Suffering

These are the notes I took during the third talk of the EDGE Conference ‘09. The speaker was Dr. Malcolm Gill.

Dr. Gill suffered from cancer in the past, and entered remission 3 years ago. Throughout this talk, he related his first-hand experience with physical suffering and how God brought him through and encouraged him. It was a great blessing and very inspiring to hear from someone who had actually “been there”.

***************************************************************

Sometimes life will be going really well, and then a “rogue wave” comes along and really impacts you negatively. We are often left without answers, but lots of questions. What do you do when you’re in the midst of despair and suffering?


Psalm 13
David is crying out in frustration. Waves of despair can lead to a time of doubt. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions. When troubles come there’s a phase of questioning. In Psalm 13, David spends the majority of time in questioning (5 lines, vv. 1-2), then there’s 4 lines of prayer (vv. 3-4), then finally 3 lines spent expressing trust in the Lord (vv. 5-6) [that’s a form of Hebrew poetry]:
1. A cry of distress: “How long will I worry?” and “Will You forget me forever?”
2. Prayer for help: “…answer me O Lord.” “Revive me!” By saying this, David isn’t implying that he is receiving answers, but rather that he has started to look to God for answers. David is getting out of doubt and moving to prayer.
3. Moving to trusting God: “…Your mercy…Your salvation”. Basically, David is saying this: “I’m crying to You for help because I’ve seen what you did to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how you were with them.” There’s no evidence that David’s prayers were answered then and there, but his attitude shows an “affirmation of trust” in God’s dealings.

Jesus Christ: the remedy for suffering
– Jesus comes to reverse consequences of the fall (death, suffering, injustice, etc)
– Jesus, quoting the Lament Psalms, identifies with humanity in suffering; He comes to deliver.
– In His resurrection, Jesus provides real hope in regards to the full restoration of humanity. Of course, until He comes again, creation will still groan under the effects of the fall.

When people are suffering, we can tend to not let people question God as to why they’re suffering, and metaphorically, jump straight to v. 5 in Psalm 13. There’s also no easy answer to suffering. Sometimes, people can still feel the lingering pain of suffering even when the suffering has long passed.

So why does suffering happen?
1. Suffering may occur for God to show His power: “…it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3
2. Suffering can cause us to reflect on eternal values. As Jesus taught in Luke 13:1-5, there’s something far worse than any earthly and physical suffering; it’s and going to hell and not being spiritually right with God.
3. Suffering can provide an opportunity to testify to a watching world what genuine saving faith in God looks like when put under the pump. Job 1:6-12. We can show people Jesus’ grace in our lives.
4. Suffering can provide an opportunity to demonstrate the concept of the body of Christ, by helping the suffering person practically and spiritually. “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice.” 1 Cor 12:26-27
5. Suffering develops godly character. Rom 5:1-5, 1 Pet 1:6-7. This word, “suffering”, comes from the word “thlipsis” in Greek. The word thlipsis denotes a great pressure or tribulation. The same word is used to explain the amount of force a man would use to press olives for olive oil.
6. Suffering may occur to keep us from self-reliance. “My grace is sufficient for you…” 2 Cor 12:8-9. Go to the Father. Totally trust Him.
7. Suffering gives us an opportunity to develop Christ-likeness.
8. Suffering can prepare us to minister to others with the “comfort we have received”. 2 Cor 1:3-5.

What can we do about that?
– Learn to listen to those who are suffering.
– If you’re suffering, look for opportunities to glorify God in your circumstances.
– Prayerfully and practically support those going through hardship.
What’s UNhelpful to do:
– Trying to provide quick fixes for people’s suffering.
– Saying things like “I know what you’re going through” or “it will all work out”. There may be good intentions, but such comments can have the appearance of downplaying the person’s suffering.

***************************************************************

Well, that concludes my mini-series on the messages I listened to at EDGE Conference ’09. I trust you found this and the other notes it as encouraging as I did.

It’s such a blessing and privilege to hear Bible-centered messages like these. I can’t wait for next year!

That’s all from me for now; God bless!

Sometimes life will be going really well, and then a “rouge wave” comes along and

really impacts you negatively. We are often left without answers, but lots of

questions. What do you do when you’re in despair and suffering?
Psalm 13:1-2
David is crying out in frustration. Waves of despair can lead to a time of doubt.

Don’t be ashamed to ask questions. When troubles come there’s a phase of questioning.

In Psalm 13, David spends the majority of time in questioning (5 lines, vv. 1-2), then

there’s 4 lines of prayer (vv. 3-4), then finally 3 lines spent expressing trust in

the Lord (vv. 5-6):
1. A cry of distress: How long will I worry?
2. Prayer for help: “…answer me O Lord.” “Revive me!” By saying this, David isn’t

implying that he is receiving answers, but rather that he has started to look to God

for answers. David is getting out of doubt and moving to prayer.
3. Moving to trusting God “…Your mercy…Your salvation”. Basically, David is saying

this: “I’m crying to You for help because I’ve seen what you did to Abraham, Isaac,

and Jacob.” There’s no evidence that David’s prayers were answered then and there, but

his attitude shows an “affirmation of trust.”

Jesus Christ: the remedy for suffering
– Jesus comes to reverse consequenses of the fall (death, suffering, injustice, etc)
– Jesus, quoting the Lament Psalms, identifies with humanity in suffering; He comes to

deliver.
– In His resurrection, Jesus provides real hope in regards to the full restoration of

humanity. Of course, until He comes again, creation will still groan under the effects

of the fall.

When people are suffering, we can tend to not let people question God as to why

they’re suffering, and metaphorically, jump straight to v. 5 in the Psalm. There’s

also no easy answer to suffering. Sometimes, people can still feel the lingering pain

of suffering even when the suffering has long passed.

So why does suffering happen?
1. Suffering may occur for God to show His power: “…it was so that the works of God

might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3
2. Suffering can cause us to reflect on _eternal_ values. As Jesus taught in Luke

13:1-5, there’s something far worse than any earthly and physical suffering; it’s and going to hell and not being spiritually right with God.
3. Suffering can provide an opportunity to testify to a watching world what genuine

saving faith in God looks like when put under the pump. Job 1:6-12. We can show people

Jesus’ grace in our lives.
4. Suffering can provide an opportunity to demonstrate the concept of the body of

Christ, by helping the suffering person practically and spiritually. 1 Cor 12:26-27
5. Suffering develops godly character. Rom 5:1-5, 1 Pet 1:6-7. This word, “suffering”,

comes from “thlipsis” in Greek. This word, “thlipsis”, denotes a great pressure or

tribulation. The same word is used to explain the amount of force a man would use to

press olives for olive oil.
6. Suffering may occur to keep us from self-reliance. “My grace is sufficient for

you…” 2 Cor 12:8-9. Go to the Father. Totally trust Him.
7. Suffering gives us an opportunity to develop Christ-likeness.
8. Suffering can prepare us to minister to others with the “comfort we have received”.

1 Cor 1:3-5.

What can we do about that?
– Learn to listen to those who are suffering.
– If you’re suffering, look for opportunities to glorify God in your circumstances.
– Prayerfully and practically support those going through hardship.
What’s UNhelpful to do:
– Trying to provide quick fixes for people’s suffering.
– Saying things like “I know what you’re going through” or “it will all work out”. Such things can seem to downplay the person’s suffering, even though there may be good intentions.

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