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3 things to remember about God when Suffering

My wife and I have appreciated visiting this congregation a number of times with our family, who attends here. If you look in your notes, you’ll see it says that I’m preaching from Hebrews chapter 10 today. The reason it says that is because I emailed Pastor Kevin and informed him about it. I had initially prepared a sermon on Hebrews 10 and even texted Pastor Kevin about it. However, as I kept praying about it, the Lord finally revealed that I shouldn’t be preaching from Hebrews 10. I wondered why the Lord didn’t tell me this before I wrote the sermon on Hebrews 10. Nonetheless, the Lord is good, and today we will be in Romans chapter 8. We will go over, “3 things to remember about God when Suffering.”

I know I look young now, but when I first became a pastor, I was, you know, 20 years younger. When I became the pastor of a small church out on the coast, the very first thing I had to do was tell them, ‘I do shave, and I can vote now.’ I’ll have to show you the bald spot on the back of my head.

You know, I’ve been in this field for a while, but when I arrived there, I was 27 years old, and I looked very young. I didn’t have a lot of life experience, and I was just getting to know those people in that church when something happened. South of our town on Hwy 101, there was a nice straight stretch of highway that goes into a nice gentle corner, and you can see that corner clearly from both directions. But for some reason, people routinely overshoot the corner and end up out in the pasture beyond. So, in the mornings, I drive kids to school, and I would say, ‘Look, there’s another car out in the grassy field.’ Or, if you’re coming the other way, ‘Oh look, someone went through that family’s fence again.’

After I had been in this church for about three months, on prom night, a young woman from our church with her friend went to prom, and I got a call that they had gone through that corner and landed out in that grassy field. Through just a freak accident of how they landed, she died on impact. I had to be the one to notify her family, and a week later, I officiated her funeral in the high school gym, with people from all over the community packing that thing out to grieve her loss. I ask you, what do you say to a family who’s just lost their daughter? What do you say to a Christian family who believes in an almighty and good God, one who reigns as we were singing earlier today, when there’s a death like that?

I also had in our church many years later a young woman who was a quadriplegic. She was 13 or 14; she couldn’t communicate, and she suddenly passed away.

My wife and I just missed the medical examiner as he was leaving the home, and we beat the funeral home to the house. So, we prayed with her family before her body was collected. What do you say to a family who believes in a good and loving God when their daughter has passed away? It’s in times like these that our faith is tested. Many people realize they don’t know how to process grief, struggles, hardship, and tragedy in our world in light of a good and sovereign God, and as a result, many people fall away from the faith. They witness abuse and cruelty in the world and even in the church. They experience natural disasters, sickness, and death, causing them to question the existence of a good God. They might say, ‘I can’t believe this,’ and they fall away from the faith.

I’ll tell you, it’s not just young people. I listened to a podcast this week where the podcasters were reviewing a book by a mega-church pastor, a Baptist pastor in California. In his 60s, he declared himself an atheist and a humanist. He had administered to the homeless and drug addicts, but after a lifetime of seeing all the indignities and sufferings that people go through, and experiencing cruelty himself, he said, ‘I can’t believe in the God of the Bible or any gods, for that matter.’

Processing these kinds of experiences is challenging. Today, I want to take you and show you one of the greatest promises in the New Testament. It’s a promise that has helped me in my life many times, providing hope and peace. I hope that it will also give you hope and peace in the midst of the hardships, suffering, and chaos of this life.

So, in Romans, chapter eight, verse 28, we read: “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called, he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified.”

Let’s walk through this promise together, and I’d like to explain it to you because it’s important to understand what God has actually said, not just imagine things He hasn’t said. Then, we’ll look at two reasons people doubt this promise, and we’ll also explore two ways this promise sometimes gets abused, as it unfortunately does. Lastly, we’ll talk about what it looks like to trust the God who has made this promise.

So, first, God’s promise is that He works all things together for the good of His people. The language might seem a bit vague here, as it could be interpreted as “all things work together for good,” or “He works all things together for the good.” However, the context of the passage makes it clear that the events of our world don’t magically fall into place on their own. People who don’t believe in God may say, “Oh, it’ll all work out, everything’s good,” but they have no reason to hope for that. In the Bible, the promise is that God is the one who is actively working out His sovereign plan.

God is the One who is working all things for good. I love that title for God – the Almighty. Even in the Book of Revelation in Greek, it’s “Pantochore,” and for some reason, I just like saying it. God is the Almighty – there is nothing He can’t do. The prophets are clear about this, stating that no one can thwart any of God’s purposes. In Psalm chapter two, we have this picture of all humanity shaking their fists at God, standing against Him, opposing His rule, and trying to throw off His chains. But what does God do in response? He laughs because He is the Almighty. This promise assures us that the Almighty is perfectly working all things for good.

Now, let’s explore the meaning of “all things.” What’s included in that? And what’s not included in that? Does it include Steve spilling his coffee this morning? Yes. How about a global pandemic? Yes. How about elections that we don’t like the outcome of? Yes. How about chronic illness, injury, betrayal, or losing a job? Does God really use all these things for good? The promise of this passage is that the Almighty takes every single thing in our world and uses it for the good of His people. That’s the third part of this promise.

There is a limitation on this promise. It’s not a limitation on what God uses, but on whose good He is working for. He says that He is working all things together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose, for those who love God. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior this morning, if you are one of those who loves God and is called by His purpose, then God is working all things for your good. However, God is not working all things for the good of all people indiscriminately. When an unbeliever dies and faces the judgment of God, that’s not good for that person, is it? But God’s promise isn’t that He’s working all things for the good of all people, but He is working all things for the good of His people. So if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then you can know and have hope this morning that regardless of what happens in your life, God is using it for your good. There is a purpose and a reason for everything that happens in your life.

But this promise is even bigger than that because you’ll notice the plural term here, the corporate term. He is working all things for the good of those who love Him and are called by His name. He is working for the church. This means that yes, everything works for the good of your life, but your life is also being used for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes. Your life has a greater meaning and significance than you might know because in some way, God is using your life for the good of all of His people.

I think about it like this: God is like an artist, and He’s working on a canvas so humongous that we can’t see all of it. It’s like being at the movie theater and sitting in the very front row, and you’re like, “I am way too close. I don’t even know where to look.” And so, God takes your life and makes a dark line, and you might question, “God, why did you do that to me?” Then, in His grace and mercy, maybe He gives you a little perspective, showing you how it connects with another line, and you begin to see something that you’ve done. You start to understand that God is working for good.

But what you don’t see, and maybe one day God will reveal this to us in heaven, is the full canvas. Perhaps one day God will say, “Look at my art,” and we’ll see, “Okay, there’s my squiggle down there that I was so concerned about,” and we’ll realize it’s an amazing detail in this grand picture that God has made. So, we don’t realize it, but the Lord God is using our individual lives in a far more significant and important way than we realize, for the good of all His people. Isn’t that a good promise?

I find this to be one of the greatest promises in the New Testament: that God is working all things for the good of His people who love Him and are called according to His purposes. This promise gives me great hope in times of trouble, uncertainty, chaos, and suffering. But many people have trouble believing it.

If you’re a Christian this morning and you have trouble believing this passage, I want to encourage you not to be afraid to ask questions. If it’s true, then God’s Word can withstand our scrutiny, and there are answers. I’m going to address two reasons people don’t believe this passage, but they’re not the philosophical or theological reasons. Rather, it’s the gut reaction we have when we actually think about these things in the midst of suffering. We might have a gut-level reaction to this promise when someone says, “All things work together for good,” and we respond with doubts, thinking, “But I can’t believe that God would ever do this, whatever it may be.” It could be the daily suffering we face in a fallen world, or it could be something significant like the young woman who died in the car accident I talked about earlier. People may say, “God would never do this, and if He does this kind of thing, I can’t believe in Him.”

So, when it comes to funerals, people tend to say very strange things. I understand that talking about funerals can be uncomfortable, but as a ministry family, we have been to many funerals, and it’s okay for us to discuss death because we know that God has overcome death for us. In times of grief and loss, it’s natural to have doubts about how God is working all things for good, but it’s essential to seek understanding and ask questions, knowing that God’s Word can provide answers and withstand our inquiries.

 So, thinking about death and funerals, there are certain things people say to try to excuse God. They might say, “God would never allow this kind of death to happen” or “God would never allow this kind of suffering.” So, at funerals, you may have heard them say, “God didn’t mean for this to happen, but He’ll bring good out of it.” It’s as if we’re trying to excuse God from any involvement in the tragedy. We say that God never wanted this to happen and that He didn’t cause it. We give Him a pass, so to speak, to avoid any blame. But in saying this, we end up giving up too much because if we deny God’s sovereignty, if we say God didn’t want it, didn’t permit it, or didn’t do it, we lose hope that He can bring good out of it.

If things happen that God didn’t want to happen, what hope do we have that He can turn it into good? It would mean He is just running from problem to problem, trying to fix things, but His plans keep getting ruined. It would imply that the world we live in is chaotic, with random pains and sufferings having no meaning.

However, if God is in control, if the Almighty brings about everything He intends, and if, at times, He permits evil and suffering to happen, then we have hope that He is in control and can bring good out of all of it. Everything fits into His plan, and every suffering we experience has a meaning and a purpose. So, rather than excusing God from tragedies, we can find hope in knowing that He can work all things together for good, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

You might think about this in human terms. Does love mean that we remove all suffering? As a dad, when my kids were little, my wife and I took them to the doctor for checkups. At times, I had to bear hug them while they screamed and cried during vaccinations. It might have looked cruel, but it was to protect them from diseases like mumps, measles, rubella, and chickenpox. I wanted to spare them from unnecessary pain and suffering, just as any loving parent would. We permit our kids to experience certain sufferings, not because we want them to hurt, but because it teaches them responsibility and prepares them for future challenges.

Surgeons cut people open, remove body parts, and sew them back up to solve health issues. Physical therapists and personal trainers cause pain, but it’s all because there are certain things we cannot achieve without going through pain and suffering. Love permits certain pains and sufferings to accomplish better things.

The second thing that people say is, “Not just a loving God would never cause suffering and pain, but how can this be good? How can this be used for good?” They might struggle to imagine how God could use certain circumstances for good.

But as we explore this, there are a couple of things we need to understand. First, what good is God working towards?

The good that He’s working towards is not that we’d be comfortable. I often wish that God’s goal for me in this life was to make me comfortable and healthy, at least healthy enough to do what I want. While I don’t expect God to make me rich, I’d like to know that I can pay my bills. However, in this passage, God says that’s not the good He’s working towards. He says the good He’s working towards is that we be conformed to the image of His Son.

The good that God is accomplishing in us is that He is changing our hearts, minds, and wills to reflect Jesus Christ. He says that one day, He will complete that work, and we will be glorified. You’ll notice that in the past tense, it says, “those whom He predestined, He also called; those whom He called, He justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.” We may not feel glorified today, and I’m sure many of us don’t. Glorification is yet to come when we have new bodies that will never again suffer, die, or be broken, and when we are no longer dealing with sinful tendencies. We will have overcome sin, and we will be glorified, living in the new creation with God Himself. It is spoken of in the past tense because it is so certain that God will accomplish His purposes. So, the good that God is working towards is that we are conformed to the image of His Son, and that one day, we will be glorified.

And he says back in Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed in us.” We may suffer in this age, and it might feel like we’re paying out $100 bills, thinking, “God, why is it so costly to follow you?” But He assures us that one day, we will look back and realize that we were giving up pennies for diamonds, and we’ll say, “Ahh, I see what you did, God.”

God is working for the good of conforming us to the image of His Son and bringing us all the way to the point where He glorifies us. Now, along the way, some people may question, “If I were the Almighty, I would do things differently. I wouldn’t allow so much suffering and pain.”

At this point, we need to talk a little bit about what we mean by “the Almighty.” I’ll tell you that there are some things God can’t do. It might sound perplexing, but they are logical impossibilities. For example, can you draw a red line with green ink? Can you make round triangles? Can God create an object so heavy that He can’t lift it? Can there be an immovable object and an unstoppable force in the same world? These may sound like difficult puzzles, but they are logical impossibilities, and even for the Almighty, they are not possible.

If you have an unstoppable force, by definition, you can’t have an immovable object. It’s a logical impossibility, as C. S. Lewis called it “nonsense.” Even if applied to God, it remains nonsense. So, God wants to conform us to the image of Jesus. He desires us to become forgiving, loving, patient, and to develop endurance and faith. However, can we truly become forgiving without being wronged? Can we claim to be loving if we can’t stand certain people? The Bible says God wants to form these characteristics in us, but they often require going through hardships, waiting, and trusting God when we don’t know the next steps. God allows suffering in our lives to develop these qualities, to conform us to the image of Christ. He does it according to His good and wise plan, and He does it when there is no other way to accomplish all of His good purposes. In those times, He uses our suffering for our ultimate good because our good God uses all things for the good of His people. It makes sense, doesn’t it? We can trust Him and believe in the Bible that God is indeed using all things for the good of His people.

But do you realize there are some ways this promise gets abused? I’ve heard some instances of this. A couple of years ago, back in 2017, my wife had hip surgery, but it was not a hip replacement.

It was a surgery, and that’s important because, according to the surgeon, the recovery and pain from a replacement is easier than the surgery she had. So, she came home from the surgery, and we placed her in the second-floor bedroom, as she couldn’t do stairs. She was in all sorts of pain, and it was a dark time for her. She had to deal with a stretching machine that was repeatedly bending her leg, causing discomfort. During this difficult time, people from our church came over to pray for and encourage her, which was very uplifting.

However, we also had some people who believed in this promise but misunderstood its meaning. One day, a woman came and said, “You know what? I am just so thankful for your suffering. I love seeing God at work.” But this statement wasn’t comforting; it was puzzling and insensitive. As time went on, we realized that while the surgery helped, her hip had never been the same, and she continued to experience pain. Some people who believed in this promise told her that pain was good and that if she cried or grieved or was upset by the ongoing pain, she didn’t trust God and should repent. They were essentially using this promise as a justification for her suffering, which felt cruel and dismissive.

Do we really want to tell someone at a funeral that the death of their loved one is good? Is that what this passage means? These statements take this promise, meant to give hope, and turn it into a bludgeon to beat people down when they are already in pain and suffering. This misuse of the promise can be harmful and lacking in compassion. Instead, the true understanding of this promise should offer hope and comfort to those going through difficult times, rather than adding to their burden.

So, how do we understand this? Well, sometimes we actually have to pay attention to our theologians because they know what they’re talking about. They tell us about reality based on the Bible, and our understanding of reality actually impacts our experience of it. Let me share a story from when my wife and I were first dating. She’s Salvadoran, and she wanted me to clarify that she took me to a Salvadoran Bakery, not a Mexican bakery. So, what I’m about to say applies to Salvadoran baked goods only.

We got all these wonderful-looking pastries from the bakery – colorful and big. Being a guy who likes pastries, I was excited. We brought the pastries home, and she said, “Let’s try them.” At that time, I didn’t drink coffee, so I picked up a pastry that looked pink and brown – it looked amazing. But as I took a bite, I found it hard, crusty, dry as dirt, and bland. There wasn’t nearly enough sugar in that thing. I asked, “What is this?” and she replied, “You know, I don’t like it.” I said, “It’s not sweet enough, and it’s stale.” So, she put it aside and gave me another one. Unfortunately, it was the same story – crunch, hard and flavorless. I was baffled and said, “Do you people not know how to make pastries?” I put that one aside too, thinking that pastries should be moist and sweet.

Then she handed me another pastry and, without warning, shoved it into my mouth. Immediately, I had an image in my mind of white wonder bread and a cup of water. I was disgusted, and she was laughing. She said, “This is flan.”

It’s a moist dessert. I was like, “What is this?” Because I was expecting bread, what came to mind was white wonder bread and water, and I was disgusted. It was several years before I tried flan again. What changed it for me was realizing, “It’s not bread. It’s custard.” An important detail. Once you understand that flan is a custard, it becomes amazing. Our understanding of reality impacts our experience of it. So, let’s return to the question: Is our suffering good?

Well, theologians tell us there are two kinds of goods: intrinsic goods and instrumental goods. Intrinsic goods are those things that are good in themselves, for no other purpose beyond themselves. For example, being in God’s presence is an intrinsic good. It’s our goal, what we desire, and we’re not seeking God’s presence to accomplish something else. God’s presence is good. I’d say desserts are an intrinsic good. You eat flan not for health or nutrition, but simply to enjoy it. Friendship is also an intrinsic good, and marriage is an intrinsic good. They are good in themselves and not a means to some other end. If you make marriage a means to some other end, you’re doing it wrong, right?

On the other hand, there are instrumental goods. An instrumental good is something that is good only because it accomplishes something beyond itself. For instance, medicine is an instrumental good because it brings about healing and health. So, when we consider suffering, it can fall into the category of instrumental good. It may not be good in itself, but God can use it to bring about something good beyond the suffering. Just like flan, once we understand its nature, we can appreciate it and see how it can be a part of a greater good.

The surgeon cuts you open, removes the body part, sews you back up. He does it to save your life. It’s good only in the sense that this horrific procedure restores you to health. However, if someone kidnapped you, took you into a back alley, and did the same thing to sell your kidney, it wouldn’t be good, would it? It’s good instrumentally because it accomplishes something else.

We come back to the sufferings in life: death, sickness, natural disasters, the loss of jobs, and the cruelties we face in this world. We don’t look at those and say they are good. Instead, we say God is accomplishing good through these evil things, and we never call evil good. The Bible has the greatest example of this in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Jesus says over and over, “I have come in order to die. I’m going to give my life as a ransom for many. I’m going to lay down my life on purpose and then going to take it up again.” He repeats this message many times.

Then it comes time for Judas to betray him, and Jesus lets Judas do what he will. Do you remember what he said? Judas’s betrayal is going to accomplish God’s purposes, so in that sense, it is good. However, Jesus doesn’t excuse the evil. He says, “Woe to that man by whom I am betrayed. It would be better for him had he never been born.” Evil is always evil, and God makes no excuses for evil actions.

The one who commits evil will suffer for that sin, or that sin will be placed on Jesus when he repents. Evil is evil, and when wicked things happen in our world, we should call them evil and stand against them. However, as Christians, we also hope and believe that God will use those things in His plan for the good of His people. So we have two stances here. On one hand, we grieve and mourn, but we do so with hope that God is in control and that everything we face has a purpose and a reason in His good plan. Therefore, if you’ve ever thought about going to someone and saying, “Don’t cry, what you’re suffering is good, get over it,” don’t. The hope is that God is using that bad thing for good ends in His good plan.

Now, there’s a second abuse, and it can be illustrated with seat belts. If God is in control, why wear seat belts, right? Historically, General Stonewall Jackson in the Civil War is an example of this. He rode around upright on his horse in the middle of battle, and his aides said, “Get off your horse, you’re going to get shot.” He replied, “If God wants me to get shot, I can get shot down on the ground or against getting shot up on my horse, and I’d rather ride my horse.” Eventually, he got shot while on his horse. Now, is this how we should treat God’s promise that He’s in control of all things? Well, let’s let the Bible answer us. Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” And in Proverbs 27:12, just in case we missed it, it repeats, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” The Bible emphasizes the importance of using wisdom and taking precautions to protect ourselves from harm.

God says, “If, in my sovereignty, I allow you to see danger and you have the means to escape, do it. That’s me and my goodness showing you the danger and allowing you to escape. If I show you the danger and you hide yourself, and yet the danger finds you anyway, well then grieve that the danger caught you, but have hope that it’s part of God’s sovereign good plan that He’s working out for your good.” Again, you can think about the New Testament, where the devil takes Jesus up to the top of the temple and says, “Jump, for Scripture says that God’s Angels will catch you.” And what does Jesus say? “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” So if you’re ever tempted to say, “God’s in control, I’ll just do whatever I want, He’s going to take care of me,” remember Jesus’s words and Proverbs: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Rather, be wise, take advantage of the opportunities the Lord gives you, and then when suffering and hardship come, trust that God has a reason and a purpose, and He will bring good out of it for you and for all of His people.

So, now we have this great promise of God that He is working all things for the good of His people. How do we trust this God? How do we respond to this promise?

First and foremost, ensure that this promise applies to you. It doesn’t apply to just absolutely everybody; it applies to those who love God and are called according to His purposes. How do you know if that’s you? Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? You see, the Bible says that God created all things, and as the Creator, He is the sovereign Lord of all things who has the right to make the rules and the right to judge those who break them. The Bible also states that each and every one of us is a sinner who has broken the rules of God. We have a sense of right and wrong in our own hearts and minds, and not one of us measures up to our own sense of right and wrong, let alone God’s. Scripture reveals that the wages of sin is death, and God will one day judge all evil, no matter how small. He will judge every person who has ever disobeyed Him in any way.

However, the Scriptures also proclaim that God, in His love, sent forth His Son at the right time, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law. Jesus came into this world fully God, and then He became fully man as well. He lived a perfect, sinless life, and as He said over and over throughout His life, He went and died on the cross not for His own sins but for the sins of others. He died in the place of you and me, who had broken the laws of God. There, on the cross, because He was human, He took the penalty of sin upon Himself, so that we might be redeemed and saved.

In summary, to claim this promise of God working all things for good, one must believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, recognizing their need for redemption from sin and accepting His sacrificial death on the cross. Only then can we truly experience the hope and assurance that God is working all things together for the good of His people who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

He was able to die for human sins and bear our punishment. And because He was God, His life was of such value that He was able to pay for all of our sins. Three days later, He rose from the dead, fulfilling the Scriptures. The Bible says that if you believe Jesus was raised from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. If you admit to God that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness and believe that He died for you and was raised from the dead, and if you repent and believe, the Scripture says you will be washed clean of all your guilt and shame. You will be given new life that will last eternally in heaven, and God will make you His child, united with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. And, most importantly, one day you will be fully glorified, having a new body, and you will live with God in a new heavens and a new Earth forever.

If you believe this, have you responded? Have you acknowledged to God that you are a sinner in need of this gift and have you confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you have never done that, then I encourage you to stop listening to me and start praying and talking to the Lord. Tell Him that you believe Jesus died for your sins, was raised from the dead, and that you admit you are a sinner in need of His grace. Give your life to Jesus and then come find me, Steve, or someone after church and tell us that you did this so we can pray with you and encourage you on your new journey of faith.

It is only when Jesus is your Lord and Savior that this promise applies to you, that God is working all things for the good of His people. If you’re like me, you made that decision a long time ago. So how is this applied to you and me? Well, let’s consider funerals again. What do you say to that family who asks, “Why did this happen? Why did this person die like this?” I’ll tell you my answer. I don’t know. I don’t know what God is doing or how this fits into His plan.

3 things to remember about God when Suffering:

  1. God is perfect in goodness. He proved it when He sent His Son to die for us on the cross.
  2. He loves us and is perfect in wisdom. He knows all things and knows how to use all things for His purposes.
  3. He is in control of all things. Nothing happens accidentally, but everything has a purpose.

If we believe those three things, then we can grieve and mourn, but we do so with hope because we trust that God’s purpose and reason for allowing hardships are ultimately good. One day, we will rejoice with Him in that goodness. We know He is in control, and there is no other way to accomplish His purposes except through what we are facing. There’s a purpose and a reason, and we trust that His purpose is good.

Now, let’s talk about obedience. Sometimes, obeying the Lord means hardship comes our way. But as we face difficulties in obeying Him, we can hold on to the promise that God is using everything, even the hard times, for our good. So, we trust Him and have hope even in the face of the hardest tragedies and challenges.

We can look at situations and say, “If I obey, I might lose my job. If I obey, I might lose a friendship. If I share Jesus with this person, they might laugh at me, or I might lose that relationship.” But I encourage you to remember this promise of God and have courage to obey Him. Do the things He has called you to do. And if you lose the job or the relationship, remember to grieve and be sad, but also trust God and His goodness in taking care of you. He is working even in those difficult circumstances for your good. Trust Him and have courage.

Now, let’s talk about how we respond when we watch world news and events. Are we as desperate and fearful as everyone else? When we read about wars, natural disasters, and all the events of our world, we trust that God is in control and He is working all things for the good of His people. Let me share a quick example from Alastair Begg, a pastor in the Midwest. A Scottish man, he is a great pastor, and if you’ve never listened to him, check out “Truth For Life” as he speaks eloquently. I remember at a conference, someone raised their hand during a Q&A session and asked Pastor Begg, “Do you think the election of Barack Obama as president means the end of our country?” Pastor Begg stepped back and replied, “Well, whether he is good for our country or not, I don’t know. But based on the Scripture, I can tell you he is good for the church, as God is working all things for the good of His people. God has not promised to work all things for the good of the United States or any other earthly country.”

But He has promised to work all things for the good of His people, so let’s have hope and proceed with peace and courage because God is working all things for the good of His people. That’s how you and I should be watching the news, and that’s how we should be thinking about the events of our world. This gives us the courage to act as Christians rather than acting out of desperation. If you find yourself in chaos and uncertainty, not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from or what you’re going to do next, think back to all the times God has carried you through up to this point. Remember how He has never let you down. Sometimes, He has even allowed you to see the good He is bringing through your suffering. Recall those moments and trust Him that whatever you’re facing now is no bigger in His eyes than what He has already brought you through.

Now, let’s talk about the title of the sermon, “The Tower of Terror,” which I named after the best ride at Disney CA Adventure, The Tower of Terror. You sit in this elevator, and the cast members are good at scaring people. One cast member looks around and says, “They fixed it.” Yeah, they fixed it. Then they close the door and leave us all in there. You’re in this elevator, it goes up, shakes a bit, and drops a little. It goes higher, shakes again, and then drops a little. Finally, it shoots to the top of this 4-story tower, the doors fly open, and you see how high you are. Then, it drops you three stories in free fall. It’s an amazing and terrifying ride, but you know what? I go on it over and over because I trust the engineers who designed it. I trust the people who built it. I know they have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure my safety.

Likewise, in life, we can face terrifying situations, but we can have peace and courage because we trust our Heavenly Father. We know that He is in control, and He has promised to work all things for the good of His people. So, let us trust Him and find hope even in the midst of uncertainty and challenges.

I trust that you know hundreds of people have been on the ride that very day, and no one has died. I go on it because I believe it’s safe. It’s terrifying, but I know it’s safe, and so it’s fun. Life is a lot like that. In a dark shaft, you don’t know what’s going on, and it’s terrifying, but I know the one who built the ride. And so even though it’s terrifying, we know we’re safe. And so we scream along with everyone else. At the same time, we’re not terrified. We have hope, and we have courage, and we have peace because we know the one who built the ride, and that we can trust Him.

Let’s pray together. Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are good, that you are wise, and you are sovereign. We thank you that you are the one who works all things for our good as your people. Help us to trust you when life seems dark and terrifying, almost as if in a dark shaft. Help us to trust you when everything around us seems to be cause for alarm. Help us to remember your goodness in the past and the way you’ve carried us through. Help us to hold on to your goodness now as we go forward in life.

Keep us from being terrified like everyone else, and help us to live with hope and courage because we know you. In Jesus’ name, we pray this, amen.


New Life Baptist Church is a small, community-centered church located in Hillsboro, Oregon. With a warm and welcoming congregation, the church strives to provide a safe and loving environment for individuals and families to come together in worship and fellowship.


Address: 3440 E Main St, Hillsboro, OR 97123
Phone: +15036484547


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