OceanSide church of Christ

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Reasons #14 and #15

Lesson Nine

Victor M. Eskew




A.   Some people live lives that are constantly filled with bad things.  Most, however, pass through periods in their lives when bad things happen.


B.    The universal question that is asked is:  “Why?  Why have all of these bad things happened to me?”


C.   We have been seeking some answers to this question.  Let’s look at two more answers in this lesson.




A.   God calls us to become ministers and servants to others (Matt. 20:26-27).


But is shall not be so among you:  but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.


B.    To be a good minister, three things come into play:  education, training, and experience.  Question:  which of the three areas do the ones being ministered unto put the most stock in?  Many times, it is in the person who has had the experiences of life.


C.   Illustration

1.     There are many things that are very bad that individuals have experienced:  disease, broken relationships, addictions, emotional problems, financial dif-ficulties, parenting issues, and death/loss.

2.     Questions:

a.     Why do people listen to recovered addicts?

b.    Why do people buy the books of parents who have had prodigal children?

c.    Why do those who have been afflicted with a disease or a handicap draw large crowds?

d.    Why do we give ear to the apostle Paul?

3.     NOTE:  Suffering is a primary education and qualification for effective training.

a.     The best person to help a sufferer is a veteran sufferer.

b.    It is “in the loneliness of the wilderness and of the difficulties of the desert that God truly prepares us to minister to others” (21 Reasons, Earley, 119).

c.    One sufferer said:  “My brokenness was a greater bridge to others than my apparent wholeness had ever been.”

d.    “When a person has mastered the full curriculum of suffering – completed the course in dungeons and chains, in whips and scourgings, in shipwrecks and persecutions – then that person has received a master’s degree in tribulation and thoroughly qualified for a ministry of compass-sion” (as quoted in 21 Reasons, Earley, 118).


D.   II Corinthians 1:3-4


Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.


1.     We must fall into tribulation.

2.     We are comforted in our tribulation by God.

3.     Others enter into similar troubles.

4.     We are able to comfort them with the comfort we received from God.

5.     Because of all this, God is worthy of praise as “the God of all comfort.”




A.   What are some things that make man great?  Education, talent, physical traits, experiences, wealth, position, and family name are a few things cause men to be great.


B.    Question:  Does God need man’s greatness to accomplish His work?  Or, is God’s power all that is needed to have success?


C.   It could be that man suffers in order to be reminded that his sufficiency is of God and not of himself.

1.     Moses

a.     At the age of 40, Moses was a very self-sufficient man.

1)     Born a Hebrew, but grew up in the Egyptian culture

2)     Highly educated

3)     Reared in the home of Pharaoh

4)     Wealthy

b.    Moses thought that he could do something about the situation of his people.

1)     Exodus 2:11


And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and look on their burdens…


2)     Acts 7:22-25


And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.  And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.  And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:  for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them; but they understood not.


c.    Moses would spend the next 40 years of his life in the wilderness away from the power and luxuries of Egypt.  He would be a shepherd and a renegade of Egypt when he would return to stand before the most powerful man in the world, Pharaoh.

2.     Paul

a.     Early in life, Paul had many advantages:

1)     Born a Roman citizen

2)     Educated at the feet of Gamaliel

3)     A rising star in the Jewish religion

b.    As a new convert to Christianity, he could have thought that he was a superstar of the Christian faith:  an apostle, revelations from God, numerous converts, and the one who established numerous churches, in addition to writing almost half of the New Testament.

c.    Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, however, to buffet him (II Cor. 12:7-10).


And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong.


1)     What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?  We do not know.  “I think it is intentionally unclear.  Why?  So no matter what your ‘thorn’ is – physical, emotional, relational, spiritual…or whatever – you can still apply the principle that God’s strength is made perfect in your weakenss” (21 Reasons, Earley, 129).

2)     Thorns make us more dependent upon God’s strength.  “It was through the continual torment of the constraining thorn that Paul was constantly reminded of the critical lesson anyone eager to be used of God must learn:  ‘My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness’” (21 Reasons, Earley, 129).




A.   Do you want to be productive in your ministry?  Your “yes” could mean that you will first suffer.


B.    If we are too self-sufficient, God may bring us suffering to show that it is really His power that is bringing greatness to our labors.  Our weakness exposes His greatness.