A Good Church Suffers

March 10, 2024   /   Faith Alliance Church

A Good Church Suffers

A Good Church

 

A Good Church Suffers.

What makes the difference between good and not good is how suffering is handled and who is handling it.

good church doesn’t hide from suffering, but embraces it, for God’s glory, for His ability to handle it, and for the need to support one another in it.

This morning I want to look at Psalm 23, because in it we meet the Shepherd of our souls. And He makes certain promises about who we are, who He is, and where He is walking us.

The Great Shepherd can walk us through suffering because He has been there before and knows the way through.

The Shepherd knows the way: He always provides what we need

Psalm 23:1–3 ESV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

This is the life at peace and at rest. This is the normal offer from God. To live at peace with Him as the sustainer.

For the Christian this is normal life. Life at peace because Christ sustains us. Because He makes and causes peace.

› Peace is the baseline not the exception.

but as we see in the Psalm, this can get disrupted. We can lose a sense of peace quickly, sometimes without even thinking about it. It just happens.

Everything is turned upside down. Then what? How do we find peace? Where do we find rest?

The Shepherd knows the terrain: He Finds us in our suffering

Psalm 23:4 ESV

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

This idea is a core tenet of Christian faith. God took on human form, chose to go to the cross and suffer on our behalf. He took on the pain of evil and sin when we could not even though we deserved it, and in doing so, offered us a new way.

Luke 23:44–47 ESV

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

But maybe you are facing a different kind of loss. A kind of internal struggle. Maybe on the outside things are easy and great, but inside it’s kind of like the soccer team lost for weeks in complete darkness. Maybe you fumble around inside looking for a way out.

The Shepherd knows the way through: He Restores us in our suffering

Christ in suffering shows us that there is entire possibility, even in death.

But in Christ the cross, the place of death, becomes the place of complete possibility.

Psalm 23:5–6 ESV

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

God provides when it feels like all is lost.

Luke 24:5–7 ESV

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

And if Christ can redeem death, He can work in and through our suffering.

John 10:11 ESV

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

If you are facing something that is too big for you, internally or externally, ask the Shepherd of our souls to guide you. To lead us. These are not just good ideas, they are a GPS of sorts. Christ will guide you. But you have to let Him.

 

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