We all face suffering at some point in our lives. Pain is inevitable and many of us walk around with unspeakable wounds. In our pain, our hearts ache with questions such as: Why does God allow suffering? How can he let such evil go unpunished? If there is a loving God, then why is it…?
No matter what your question is, our pain lies at the heart of these questions. In this new series called Wounded, our aim is not only to discover what our God of love has to say about our pain and suffering, but also to have a proper view of suffering and establish an adequate theology of suffering.
Most Christians don’t have a sound theology of suffering and their focus is on how to avoid suffering and on what to do when they hurt. For many people, the good Christian life is a painless, comfortable and convenient life. If they are experiencing pain and suffering, something must have gone wrong. Therefore, our aim in this series is for our members to have a proper understanding of suffering and recognise the place of doubt, grief, despair, lament, questioning and waiting in relation to our hope in God.
We hope our members will find a refreshing insight from the transformative power of suffering and consequently move their faith development to new heights.
|3 Aug||Wounded: An invitation to lament||Lamentations|
|10 Aug||Wounded: Job – Why do bad things happen to good people?||Job 1-31|
|17 Aug||Wounded: Job – Responding to the Wounded Questioner||Job 32-42|
|24 Aug||Wounded: Habakkuk – Why do bad people get away with everything?||Habakkuk 1:1-2:20|
|31 Aug||Wounded: Habakkuk – Waiting for God’s justice||Habakkuk 3:1-19|
|7 Sep||Wounded: Life Beyond the Wilderness||Deut 8:1-10|
|14 Sep||Wounded: The Fellowship of Christ’s Sufferings||2 Cor 1:1-7|
Read through the whole book, not just the verses mentioned along with the sermon title.
An Invitation to Lament – Lamentations
In Lamentations, grief is offered against denial and cover-up. Newness comes only out of grief fully expressed and embraced.
I have written a short article on The Theology of Lament which you may find helpful in your preparation for your sermon.
The two sermons on Job are taken from the dialogue between Job and his friends (1-31) and the speeches of Elihu and God (32-42). A good way to approach these big chunks of text is to grasp the essence of what they are communicating instead of preaching through it line by line!
The two sermons on Habakkuk are divided by its outline of the book:
|1:2-2:20||Why do bad things happen to good people?|
|1:2-4||Problem: why is wickedness unpunished?|
|1:5-11||Response: coming judgment on the wicked|
|1:12-17||Problem: isn’t the medicine worse than the disease?|
|2:1||Awaiting a response|
|2:2-20||Response: coming judgment on the wicked|
|3:1-19||Waiting for God’s justice|
|3:1-2||Request for God’s continued active presence|
|3:3-15||God’s hand in history|
|3:16-19||Trembling yet trusting|
Here is a brief overview of Habakkuk.
Life Beyond The Wilderness
In this sermon on Deuteronomy 8:1-10, Israel is about to enter the promised land after 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Their wilderness experience and the Exodus story form the background to their “life beyond the wilderness”. In the book Hope within History, Brueggemann insightfully says that the transformative power is found not only in the Exodus event, but also in the Exodus narrative. Transitions that are disjunctive, painful and hidden. However, revelations happen at points of disjunction, not in situations of equilibrium. Wilderness is often an imagery of pain, disappointment and unfulfilled longings. However, it is also a place of revelation, provision, discovery and transition. The transitions between these stages of life (from Egypt to the Promised Land) are often difficult and painful, as the believer is faced with the uncertainty ahead. Ironically, it is at the transitions that transformation occurs because one has to face the realisation that the long-held convictions and beliefs in the previous stage are not as stable as one has experienced. Although this transitional change threatens the very core of our existence, wrestling and enduring this displacement with God offers new a understanding of God, neighbour and self.
Here is an interesting article in Christianity magazine reflecting on the lessons from the wilderness and finding hope in new beginnings – After The Wilderness
The Fellowship of Christ’s Suffering
In this final sermon in the Wounded series, we will be looking at the crucial connection between suffering and discipleship. If we call ourselves followers of Jesus and we are called to be like him, what are the implications on our intimacy with Christ if Jesus is the suffering Saviour?
These videos will greatly enhance your services and messages:
A modern expression of the painful story in the Book of Job. Very gritty and challenging.
The Hand that Steadies the Plate
An inspiring interview of a pastor talking about the beauty of being Jesus as we get into the utter brokenness and messiness of people’s lives.
Faith in God – Katie Wagner’s Story
Katie Wagner was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in October 2011. It was challenging but her faith, family and friends gave her strength to fight. In February 2013 the cancer that had been throughout her body was completely gone. All scans were clear. But in May 2013, more scans were done and the cancer had returned. She continued her fight. Katie passed away on 17th September 17 2013.