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Suffering

Introduction

One summer Stuart and I had a ministry experience that took us literally around God's world. I learned many significant lessons. First, I learned that this is my Father's world. It's incredible. I've seen his fingerprints. I could almost hear him say to me as he said to Job, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? … Who marked off its dimensions? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:6-7).

And I understand a little better why my Father's world broke my Father's heart. I understand in a new way why it says in Genesis 6:5-6, "The Lord God saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain."

I met with young prisoners in Taiwan, stood in the "killing fields" of Cambodia, heard a bomb blast too close at hand in Croatia, and watched SWAT teams in Northern Ireland. I listened to a dear Christian friend who had been married for 35 years tell me her husband had just left her for another woman. I understood a little of the reason God wished we had never been born, and his heart is filled with pain.

But this is God's world, and he wants it back. John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." So on this tour around the world that broke my Father's heart, I met my Father's family—widows, orphans, soldiers, missionaries raising kids in houses where they catch twenty big rats a week, refugees, the poorest of the poor, displaced ...

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Jill Briscoe is executive editor of Just Between Us, serves on the boards of World Relief and Christianity Today International, and is a minister-at-large with her husband at Elmbrook Church in Wisconsin.

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Sermon Outline:

Introduction

I. We must insist on God's goodness, knowing that he is good

II. We must accept our suffering, knowing that God will redeem it

III. We must act rightly before people, knowing God will act

IV. We must choose to believe God is there, knowing even when we cannot feel him

Conclusion