Suffering a time for ears to hear, eyes to see God
January 19, 2017
by Lauren Crane
In times of suffering, difficulties and struggles, David Platt said believers have the perfect chance to hear from God and see his greatness revealed.
Teaching primarily out of the text of Job 42, Platt, who pastors The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., spoke to a chapel filled with hurting people on the topic of suffering in the believer’s life. The message came during a chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., in which Platt taught that the experience of struggling and wrestling with God was the perfect chance to hear from the Lord.
“God is good. He is sovereign,” Platt said. “He knows what he is doing, even when we wrestle with it.”
Looking at Job, who lost everything but kept his faith in the goodness of God, Platt said, “We think (because we’ve suffered) it’s time for answers. What we get from God are questions that reveal his greatness. Maybe what we need are not answers, but presence.” Platt said just as his wife often doesn’t need answers to problems, only her husband’s presence, too often believers fail to see that instead of answers, they need to experience God’s presence.
In the message’s text, Platt said God’s greatness and power is revealed in the struggling of Job. Just as Job acknowledges in verse one of the chapter that God can do all things, Platt emphasized that God is sovereign over all things, including spiritual forces.
“God is sovereign over everything. He is sovereign over angels. He is sovereign over demons. He is sovereign over Satan,” Platt said. “Satan is not sovereign. God is.” He said Satan is not sovereign over disease or other struggles. “Satan does not decide when we breathe our last breath. God does.”
Everything in creation was sovereignly created by God for God’s exaltation. “The mysteries of creation do not revolve around man, but they exist to glorify God. Everything, all of creation, responds to the bidding of our God. All of creation praises the name of the Lord. They all exalt his name.” In looking at the myriad of mysteries found in Job 38, Platt said, “What if God is saying to Job, ‘Your suffering is a mystery in the middle of 10,000 mysteries, and I am sovereign over them all’?”
Each mystery is part of God’s bigger plan, which cannot be thwarted, Platt said. Even Satan’s attempts to thwart God’s plan only serves to advance God’s purposes.
“Satan’s attempts to attack the church only serve to advance the church,” he said. “Even Satan’s strategy to ‘defeat’ God only serves to bring salvation to the sons of men.”
Furthermore, God’s wisdom and mercy should give comfort to those who are enduring suffering.
“His knowledge is perfect and his wisdom is infinite,” Platt said. “With the wisdom of God to plan it, what do we lack?” He also said that with the incarnation of Christ, we see that God’s mercy is personal.
“What if the answer to the problem of evil is not so much a tightly woven theological argument but a person?”
Speaking about the book of Job, Platt said, “This book is about terrible stuff, but it calls us to trust an overwhelmingly loving and personal God who is with us. That is Christ. Are you hurting? He hurts. No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still.
“Martin Luther was right when he wrote, ‘A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.’ Take heart in suffering. God says, ‘My purpose is guaranteed. My knowledge is perfect. My power is for you.’”
To close to service, Platt asked those in the seminary who were struggling to stand and allow fellow students, staff and faculty to lay hands on them and pray for them.
“I’d like to give us the opportunity to go to our God and intercede on your behalf.”