Took On: Pain & Suffering

Took On: Pain & Suffering

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This morning, we continue our new message series entitled, “Took On” as we journey together to the cross and on through to the resurrection of Jesus!

Life can be tough; genuinely, sincerely, tough!  Living in this world corrupted by sin leaves no shortage of opportunities to get weighed down by burdens.

Our lives are being radically changed day-by-day by the efforts to prevent the spread of the corona virus, we are being burdened in significant ways.

People are being laid off as business limitations continue to increase.  Basic household supplies like toilet paper are becoming challenging to find.  Kids are home from school. 

Beyond these physical burdens, the emotional burdens are tremendous.  In some ways more threatening than contracting the corona virus itself, is the fear and anxiety that has gripped so many people.

If Jesus took on our burdens, then why do we still feel the weight of them?  Well, that’s what we’re going to continue to learn about today.

Through this series, we’re looking back to the prophetic word fulfilled by Jesus found in Isaiah 53.  Here, we find a list of life burdens that Jesus took on Himself.  Jesus took on these burdens so that we can live life in freedom from them!

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NCV)

4 But he took our suffering on him

    and felt our pain for us.

We saw his suffering

    and thought God was punishing him.

5 But he was wounded for the wrong we did;

    he was crushed for the evil we did.

The punishment, which made us well, was given to him,

    and we are healed because of his wounds.

6 We all have wandered away like sheep;

    each of us has gone his own way.

But the Lord has put on him the punishment

    for all the evil we have done.

Today, we’re looking to two things that heavily weigh down many of us, especially with all that is happening in the world around us; pain and suffering.

These two weighty and burdensome words that Isaiah used in this prophecy carry the meaning of pain, anguish, grief, or sorrow from the Hebrew word mak’ob (mak·ōve’) and sickness, anxiety, calamity, or grief from the Hebrew word choliy (khol·ē’ ).

Last week, we learned about the healing that God provides for our physical sickness and disease all because Jesus took them on Himself on the cross.  By His stripes, we are healed. 

This week, we’re transitioning from the physical to the mental.  We’re focusing in on the inner part of our lives where the invisible burdens of life lie heavily; within our hearts and minds.  Though unseen, they have a far greater impact on our lives than we would care to admit!

Pain and suffering within our hearts and minds can weigh a person down in ways that can go unnoticed by those around them.  When someone is using crutches or has a cast on their arm, the source of their pain is obvious. 

Others see it, are usually moved by compassion, and offer what they can do to help them out.  It’s easy to see how to serve their needs.  They need help opening the door or carrying a bag or preparing a meal. 

To those who push through every day, going through their routines, but inflicted by internal pain and suffering, others often have a difficult time understanding.  These issues are misunderstood, scoffed at, and mocked.  However, to those carrying these burdens, their pain and suffering is just as hindering as being on crutches.

Even when others know that they are dealing with the real pain and suffering within, we don’t know what to do to help them.  We offer shallow advice like, “Cheer up, things will get better.”  We just don’t know what we can do to serve their needs.

It is interesting, however, that God’s word never encourages us to cast our broken bones, clogged arteries, or bruised eyes on Jesus.  It’s easy for us to cry out to Jesus and to cast our physical sickness and disease on Him.

However, we are called from cover to cover of God’s word to trust Him, casting all of our cares, worries, fears, anxieties, concerns, troubles, suffering, and sorrows on Him! 

Whatever the reason, this is a more difficult thing for us to do.  We often try to negate or ignore when we are experiencing these things in the first place and we sometimes have a more difficult time crying out to Jesus about what’s happening within us.

In reality, every external choice that we make begins inwardly.  This is why God’s word calls us so often to cast these things on Him. 

Our outward words and actions are merely fruits of what we have allowed to be planted and grown right within our hearts and minds.  When our mental health is lacking, our physical health and lifestyles suffer.

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Our lives flow from the inside out.  When our hearts and minds are healthy, our lives generously produce the fruits of the Spirit. 

When our hearts and minds are weighed down by burdens, our lives produce fruits of the flesh.  When we are healthy and thriving inwardly, our outward lives reflect this. 

That is why God calls us to guard our hearts and why He took on Himself our inward pain and suffering. 

The most common verse that comes to mind regarding this comes from first Peter chapter five.  This morning, we’re going to read it from the Amplified translation of The Bible along with the verses surrounding it for context.  Though written specifically to elders overseeing the church, it certainly applies to anyone facing the inward burden of pain and suffering.

1 Peter 5:6-10 (AMP)

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, 7 casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 8 Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].

Although there are so many other scriptures that speak to casting the burdens of pain and suffering onto God so that we might be free of them, we find awesome practical advice on exactly how to do so right here in these few verses.  How do we allow Jesus to take on our pain and suffering?

1. Humble yourself (v 6)

If you were to ask me the first practical advice that I would offer someone with a heart and mind burdened by pain and suffering, asking them to humble themselves would not probably make my list.  It almost sounds cruel to accuse someone dealing with this burden of being selfish or prideful.  However, that’s  what God’s word calls us to do first; humble yourself.

Therefore, I have to ask, “Why would God say that?”

Often, the true reason for the burden of pain and suffering in our lives is our self-focus.  Poor mental health sometimes actually stems from an ‘I’ problem.

If I sit here and think about all of the issues that I am dealing with, all of the hurts that I have endured, all of the pressures of life I am under; if I turn on the news and listen to the worst of what is happening in the world and what could happen to me, I will quickly find myself depressed, isolated, worried, and fearful.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”

Humbling ourselves doesn’t mean thinking less of ourselves, it means that we think of ourselves less. (repeat)

We are called to humble ourselves and to place ourselves under the mighty hand of God.  God’s hand is one of healing and protection and peace. 

We position ourselves under God’s hand so that He might pick us up and exalt us in honor at just the right time.  Humbling ourselves is simply a matter of that, positioning ourselves under God’s covering.

How do we allow Jesus to take on our pain and suffering?

2. Cast them on Jesus (v 7)

Most of us know how to pray and ask Jesus to take care of the things distressing us emotionally.  However, few of us know how to hand those things to Jesus and to leave them there. 

Usually, we ask Jesus to take care of a situation, say amen, and then begin to think and worry about that very same situation.  We cast those things on Jesus and then we steal them off of Him and put them right back on ourselves.

Someone has to be pretty bold to give something to Jesus and then to tear it right back out of His hands afterwards.  However, we do this to Jesus all of the time. 

We are called to cast these things on Him because He cares about us.  We were not created to be able to carry the burdens of anxieties, worries, and concerns.  That’s why Jesus takes them on Himself and away from us. 

Let’s allow Him to do so.  Let’s pray about it and then leave it there, not placing it back on our shoulders again to burden us and weigh us down.

3. Be sober (v 8-9)

We’re called to be alert and cautious at all times.  Yes, we have an enemy always waiting to devour us.  However, the One who is in us, the Holy Spirit, is far greater and more powerful than our enemy in the world. 

We are not called to walk in fear.  We’ve been given the Holy Spirit, not a spirit of fear, but of power and sound mind. 

However, we still need to be well-balanced and disciplined.  Some pain and suffering is placed upon our lives by others, but we can also pierce ourselves with self-inflicted pain and suffering just by making foolish decisions such as giving in to the temptations of our enemy.

Let’s do our part and trust God with the rest.  Prepare for the worst and believe for the best.  Resist the enemy and he’ll flee. 

Remain well-balanced by living out sound, Godly wisdom, but also having faith that there is nothing too hard for our God.  There is no pain that He cannot relieve and no suffering that He cannot resolve. 

We do our, best, but trust God with the rest.  Jesus is our protector, but He is also our healer when we find ourselves carrying the weight of pain and suffering.  Jesus is our peace when our heart and minds become overwhelmed by worries, anxiety, and concerns and that peace transcends all human understanding and reasoning.

4. You’re not alone (v 9)

Though we have an enemy determined to destroy us, there are more who are for us and willing to be with us than he who is against us. 

Though our hearts and minds may tell us that we are alone, abandoned, neglected, foresaken, God’s word promises that He will NEVER leave nor foresake us.  He is with us and He is for us always.

In fact, other brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are enduring the same things that you are right now.  Suffering may last a moment in all of our lives, however…

5. God is at work (v 10)

After you have suffered for a little while, God will bring it to an end.  Through the pain and suffering that He permitted you to endure for that little while, God will strengthen, confirm, and complete you.  He will work all things together for your good and for His glory by His grace.  God is working. 

Your pain and suffering is not your final destination.  God is using what others may have intended to harm you to make you who you were meant to be. 

What was meant to destroy you, God is using to build you.  What was meant to bring you shame and embarrassment, God is using to bring you honor and glory.

I wish that I could tell you that when you place your trust in Jesus, that you never have to experience the weight of pain and suffering again.  However, that’s just not true.

What changes for those whose faith is in Jesus is that the pain and suffering that we endure is only for a little while, especially in contrast to the eternal life free of it that awaits us. 

During that short season of pain and suffering, Jesus shapes us and builds us up to become better people.  There is a purpose in the pain.

Jesus then comes to our rescue.  He comes rushing in at just the right moment and takes our pain and suffering on Himself and gives us healing and freedom.

Consider the example of Jesus, Himself.  He endured the pain and suffering of the cross.  For three days, his body lay dead in the grave. 

However, that pain and suffering served a purpose.  He took on Himself the full punishment that we deserved for our sin along with our sickness and diseased and our pain and suffering. 

However, His story didn’t end there.  He then rose from the grave and was given such a place of honor and glory that His name is now the name above every name! 

Because Jesus was willing to humble Himself, cast His worldly anxieties, fears, and worries on the Father, remain sober-minded resisting the enemy, and trust that the Father was at work, He is forever glorified having never to suffer again.

Your story can have that same ending.  This morning, allow Jesus to take on your pain and suffering.  Let today be the day that the weight of your anxieties, worries, cares, and concerns that consume you internally be lifted.  Let today be the day when all of those things are consumed by the peace of Jesus and your heart and mind be renewed.

You are dearly loved by Jesus.  Cast your pain and suffering on Him because He cares for you.  As He said:

Matthew 6:25-27;33-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Right now, we’re going to pray together.  Today is the first day of our new life free from the inward pain and suffering caused by worry and anxiety. 

Today is the day of our freedom!  Right now, we are going to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and trust that God will take care of everything else. 

No matter what trouble comes our way, nothing is bigger than our God, nothing is a surprise to our God, and nothing can stop His great, unfailing love and care for us!