The Answer of Suffering
John 4:46-54 - 21st Sunday after Trinity - October 25, 2015

Dear belivers in Christ, baptized of God. We have to admit that things often don’t go the way we want, or the way we expect. And what do we ask? Why? Why, God? Why did it have to happen that way? Or, why couldn’t things have turned out differently? Or, why must a child suffer? Why must anyone suffer?

Yet, sometimes we learn more when we don’t have an immediate answer, when things are not easy, and when we must wait upon God, and go to Him for understanding.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is trusting in God’s promise even when there seems to be no solution in sight. Faith is leaving the trouble in God’s hands, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”

One thing we learn, by God’s grace, is that there are no questions in God’s heart. There’s nothing hidden from Him. “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”. There’s nothing that He doesn’t know. That is a source of comfort when we are suffering. There’s nothing about it that is hidden from God. He not only knows far in advance what’s going to happen to us, He already knows exactly what He’s going to do to help us. And His promise is that He will always get us through it, and make all things work together for our good.

But is it true faith, if it’s never tested? That’s one thing we can be sure of: not only have we had our faith tested, it will continue to be tested. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

And what do we ask when that happens? “Why? Why God? Why must it be that way?” Well, here’s one reason. Have we ever tried to grab a stick from a dog’s mouth? What happens? The dog clamps down, sinks his teeth in, holds on, and doesn’t let go.

What happens when anyone or anything tries to take away something we value? We clamp down, we hold on, we don’t let go. And what is it that you believers in Christ, having been baptized of God, having your sins washed away in Jesus Christ, having been assured of eternal life in Christ – what is it that you value, spiritually? Jesus. Your faith in Jesus. The promise and hope of eternal life. What happens when through suffering, it seems that the devil is trying to take heaven away from us? We hold on to Jesus. We hold on to the promise of eternal life. And so we pray, we call on God, we repent of our sins, we believe in Him for the forgivenss of our sins. All this tends to happen more, when things are not easy, when we don’t have an immediate answer, when we must wait on God. When we are faced with that lingering question “Why?”, it tends to move us closer to God, seeking answers in His Word, and through prayer.

That is the story of the nobleman of Capernaum. The world will never stop asking why a loving God would allow this man’s child to suffer. The world will never come up with an adequate answer, and they’ll never agree on one. But that’s because they’re thinking of it as a question, when it really is more of an answer. Scripture says clearly, “The trying of your faith worketh patience.”

It’s not that this father didn’t have any faith. He knew who Jesus was. He knew to come to Jesus for help. He did the right thing in asking Jesus for help. So why didn’t Jesus just give the man exactly what he wanted? He just wanted Jesus to come with him for the healing. He “besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son.” “Sir, come down ere my child die.”

But Jesus responded, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” The world will never undertand this. Many say that this was no time for Jesus to be preaching a sermon to a man in need. But actually, it was the perfect time. It was no accident that this father had nothing else to cling to (nothing else was working!), except to what Jesus was willing to offer.

The man thought Jesus had to go with him. He thought he had to see the miracle happen. But Scripture says, seeing is not believing. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

God’s Word is all that we really need. His Word gives life and salvation. God’s Spirit works through the Word. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It’s a temptation to think that we need something more than God’s Word. We gotta have something more, something more to keep us entertained. Sometime more to bring in the crowds.

And so why didn’t Jesus wow the crowds with a great miracle like the stilling of the storm, the walking on the water, the feeding of the 5000, the raising of Lazarus? Where was the glory of a miracle like that for this dad? Jesus offered him none of that. Simply a promise: “Thy son liveth.” “And the man believed the Word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.”

The man couldn’t instantly verify whether or not that word was true, he was a day’s journey away. He had to wait on God’s promise. There’s was nothing else He could do, but hold on to God’s Word. “And the man believed the Word that Jesus had spoken unto him.”

The situation is exactly the same today. Things often do not go the way we think they should, or the way we exepct them to. Often we are left wondering why.

But what God does give, is all that we really need. He gave His Son to be born for us, to live for us, to die for us, and to rise again for us. We don’t get to see it happen, but we do have His promise. And that’s all we really need.

When things are rough, when things are hard, when we don’t understand, when there seems to be no solution in sight, we still have God’s promise to make “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

He says, “I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee.” And that is what our faith needs the most. Assurance from God’s Word. He is there for us. He will help us. It may not always be in the time, or manner that we think it should be, but in the end, it will be for our ultimate good. In the end we will see how it all makes perfect sense.

God always has a plan for us. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, God’s plan is the absolute best for us. We cannot always see that plan, or see the the good in it immediately, yet we can fully trust in Him. “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our help and our shield. Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation.”

May His promises continue to be in our hearts, and continue to strengthen our faith in Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“His servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.” - John 4:51

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