How We Can Live Courageously in a World Full of Suffering - Living Strong Television Network
How We Can Live Courageously in a World Full of Suffering

By Matt Chandler

If you and I are going to be Overcomers and live courageously in this mess, it’d be helpful to understand some of it. After we see ultimate reality in Revelation 4–5, in Revelation 6 we get more help seeing behind all the mess. We get some good news about how we can endure and stand with confidence in light of all this pain—the pain of others and our pain as well.

When it comes to suffering, we see several things in the Scriptures that form a paradox we should hold in tension as finite, created beings seeking to understand an infinite and eternal God. The first is that God is good (Mark 10:18), all the works of His hands are faithful and just (Psalm 111:7), and there is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5). God is love. It’s not something He has or does; it’s who He is. God doesn’t do evil; He does love.

Excluding Satan and demons who were made in the beginning good, it might be helpful for you to think of evil not as an action or a substance that flows from a source but rather the result of fractured relationships. It’s first and foremost a broken relationship with our Creator, then with ourselves, with others, and ultimately with the world itself.

God isn’t the creator of evil; he’s the creator of beauty, goodness, and truth. Evil, suffering, and death are the result of sin and humankind’s rebellion against their Creator, which fractured the cosmos. That isn’t to say that every specific thing we endure is our fault. The cosmos is fractured at both the macro and micro levels. Some suffering, maybe most suffering, flows from this reality. The cosmos is broken. It isn’t functioning as it was designed. We can know from the Scriptures that God isn’t the author of evil but the source of beauty, goodness, and truth.

With that said, here comes the paradox: God—in His sovereign reign over all things—holds all evil on a leash, including Satan, demons, and the brokenness that leads to sin and suffering. Nothing, not even the brokenness of the cosmos, is without boundaries and limits. Evil and suffering are not omnipotent. They don’t have the final say or authority. There’s more in this part of our paradox, but we need to talk about judo to help us understand.

In the martial art of judo, the goal is to use the momentum and strength of your opponent against them. To use their energy and output to ultimately defeat them. Not only does God set boundaries and limits on evil and suffering, but He uses evil and suffering against evil and suffering.

For almost thirty years, I’ve watched as followers of Jesus have been diagnosed with illness, killed in tragic accidents, and on the receiving end of terrible tragedies. Yet, in almost every case, the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) does its work, and those people begin to minister to others who are hurting. Where evil tries to destroy, God turns it on its head. He sovereignly redeems the suffering of His people by exposing idols, growing their faith and dependence, and granting them His presence in unique and beautiful ways.

Here is our paradox: God is sovereign over all things. God is good. God isn’t the author or cause of evil, yet when evil happens, regardless of cause, God can work things for our good and take the destructive hope of evil and redeem it.

Having pastored for more than twenty years, I have hundreds of questions about what I’ve just written. I’m sure you do too. These questions can haunt me at times. The “where was God . . .” or “why would God . . .” questions from people have felt almost too weighty for me to bear on more than one occasion. I don’t just think of these massive questions theoretically and divorced from their humanity. These questions involve actual faces and real tears. The questions are cried or screamed or whimpered into the heavens. How are we to make sense of it all?

I love this quote by Tim Keller:

Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.[1]

The Scriptures don’t seem to be interested in answering all our questions. In the last five chapters of the book of Job, we see there are things we, as finite, created beings, won’t be able to comprehend that God, in His infinite power and wisdom, can. He is good.

Look to Jesus. Watch Him as He reveals the kingdom of God. See His power over disease and death, His restoring power over tragedy and loss, His tears for the world’s brokenness, and His power to do something about it. This is the kingdom expanding in every direction, whether we see it or not.

This is why darkness and pain are thrashing about. They’re losing ground. They are trying to make one last stand in a cosmic war that has already been won.

_____The Overcomers

Are you ready to live fully prepared and fully equipped to handle anything life throws at you? As Christians, we can be courageous and confident, knowing that God has placed us in human history for His purposes, and He will empower us regardless of our circumstances. Drawing on the book of Revelation and historical examples, The Overcomers will put steel in the spines of believers and remind them of the fierce, conquering, commanding authority of God over all the earth.Overcomers Study

In The Overcomers, Matt Chandler reminds readers that they don’t have to be anxious or afraid of anything in the present or in the future because both have already been won. We are not victims but overcomers—and we are a key part of what God is working out in our day. God is at work in the mess, just as He has always been, and He continues to accomplish His purpose of seeking and saving the lost.

In this book, believers will:

  • Find courage and confidence from fellow believers who have gone before us.
  • Feel empowered as God reminds them of His promises fulfilled and yet to come.
  • Understand the strategies, tactics, and deceptions Satan uses to try to keep us paralyzed with anxiety and fear.
  • Learn to live a victorious Christian life marked by the power and presence of God.

The apostle John wrote his letter to a certain group of people in a particular place at a specific time. Although it was written to them, it was also written for us. The Overcomers takes a chapter-by-chapter view of Revelation rather than a line-by-line deep dive, helping readers practically understand what God wants to say to us today through this extraordinary book written thousands of years ago. Believers will be reminded that they are uniquely wired and uniquely placed in this moment in history as part of God’s big plan to push back darkness and to establish light. Christ has overcome, and in Him we, too, are the overcomers!

Matt Chandler is a husband, father, pastor, elder, and author whose greatest desire is to make much of Jesus. He has served over 20 years as the Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX which recently transitioned its 5 campuses into their own autonomous churches. He is also the Executive Chairman of the Acts 29 Network, a large church planting community that trains and equips church planters across the globe. Matt is known around the world for proclaiming the gospel in a powerful and down-to-earth way and enjoys traveling to share the message of Jesus whenever he can. He lives in Texas with his beautiful wife Lauren and their three children, Audrey, Reid, and Norah.

[1] Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (New York: Penguin Books, 2015).

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