ROMANS 8:18“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Commentary from the sermon “Our Present Sufferings” by Alistair Begg:
“Now, what Paul is pointing out, having mentioned suffering and glory in verse 17, is that you cannot separate them―if you’re in for the glory, you’re in for the suffering; if you’re in for the suffering, you’re in for the glory. But then, in verse 18, he says, ‘I want you to know that although they cannot be separated, nor can they be compared. Because the glory,’ he says, ‘that will be ours then far outdoes the sufferings we experience now.’ Now, I’m wonderfully helped by this: ‘I consider that our present sufferings…’ ‘Our present sufferings.’
“Well, first of all, we might say, ‘Well, what do you know, Mr. Author, Mr. Paul, about present sufferings?’ And he can answer that very clearly. … ‘I[’ve] worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, … been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked’ (2 Cor. 11:23–25, NIV 1984). … So here is somebody who can speak with authority concerning the writing and the experiencing the phrase ‘I consider that the present sufferings…’ The present sufferings.
“In the depth of human suffering we discover the reality of God. In the depth of human suffering we encounter the fatherly presence. It is in the depth of human suffering that we learn―verse 15 and 16―to cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
PSALM 31:15“My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!”
Commentary from the sermon “My Times Are in Your Hands — Part Two” by Alistair Begg:
“You see, logically there is no other choice. You either have to be a deist or a pantheist, or you believe in the providence of God. You either have to say, ‘I am being buffeted by a blind impersonal force,’ or ‘I am adrift on the sea of chance,’ or ‘There is a providential God who orders the affairs of time.’ If the providential God orders all the affairs of time, then by His permissive will He allows things to pass to us through His hands, but they do not take Him by surprise.
“He’s sovereignly involved in the life cycle of a sparrow (Matt. 10:29), and therefore, He is profoundly involved in the circumstances of those whom He has made the special objects of His love. And therefore, with confidence, even in the face of difficulty, we can be assured that since the fatherly providence of God has permitted these things, He has done so for our good and His glory, and He will sustain us, and He will watch over us in the midst of them, and even if it takes to heaven, He will then make clear to us what now ‘we see through a glass, darkly’ (1 Cor. 13:12, KJV).”
PSALM 13:1–6“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Commentary from the sermon “Choosing to Trust” by Alistair Begg:
“The fantastic thing here is this: that at this point in his experience, David brings what he knows to bear upon what he feels. … It is very important that we get theological, so that we are able to bring what we know to be true to bear upon the very real experiences of life.
“What did he know? Well, he knew—for example, in Psalm 27—that ‘the LORD is my light,’ he says, ‘and my salvation—whom shall I fear?’ (Ps. 27:1, NIV). Natural reaction of his heart: ‘I’ll fear my enemies.’ Response to his feelings is to bring the truth of God to bear upon those feelings: ‘These guys are out there. They want to dance at my funeral. God, give me light to my eyes. Don’t let them do that. Let’s have victory together. May Your name be vindicated. And in the meantime, I want to hold on to the fact that You are my light and You are my salvation.’”
JAMES 1:2–4“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Commentary from the sermon “Consider It Pure Joy” by Alistair Begg:
“Trials are inevitable. James is not here speaking about a possibility; he’s speaking about a certainty. … And trials of an unexpected nature are actually an ordinary feature of life. You have to recognize that when we tackle this subject, the Bible makes it clear that some suffering, some trials, are simply the common lot of our human existence. … We live in a world that is not the world in its perfection as God has made it, but we live in a world that has been spoiled by sin. That world is imperfect, and as a result of the imperfection, we get hurt, we get sick and we die. That’s just the facts of life.
“… In Job chapter 5, he said, ‘Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward’ (Job 5:7, NIV). So the real cause for a consideration for surprise would be to live life without the experience of trials. And yet still it is not uncommon to hear people hold out as a realistic hope that … if you’re a truly sanctified Christian … then somehow or another, you’re going to have a special path that allows you to bypass the rocky terrain, the uphill struggle, that is the common lot of human experience. That kind of teaching is distinctly unhelpful, and it is very unbiblical.”
1 PETER 3:13–17“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
Commentary from the sermon “Prepared to Give an Answer” by Alistair Begg:
“How do we suffer for being Christians? Well, we immediately turn and look across the globe and halfway around the world, and we read stories of dreadful predicaments which our fellow believers face. And so we should, and so we ought to pray. But every day, to some degree, we bear the marks of what it means to follow Jesus Christ. Businessmen are snubbed if they are prepared to follow after Christ. Ladies are not necessarily as welcome at those same little circles where they once were when they used the same language and talked about the same things and laughed at the same stories. Youngsters in high school who have set their course firmly after Jesus may not play on that team, may certainly not hang out with the same gang at the end of the game. There is that which attaches to life when we are prepared to hold to biblical principle. There is difficulty which attends the narrow way. But, says Peter, there is a blessedness which accompanies even that.”
1 PETER 4:12–16“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
Commentary from the sermon “God’s Faithfulness in Affliction” by Alistair Begg:
“The faithfulness of God in the experience of suffering is that into which we are brought in order that we might display God’s glory. … You remember Joseph? Through it all, he comes to the final point where, in Genesis 50, he says to those around him, ‘You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good’ (Gen. 50:20, paraphrased). And really, what will help us more than anything else is a rediscovery in these things of the doctrine of providence and an understanding of the fact that God orders all things and controls all things and is present in all things for our good and for His glory.
“So we don’t run out to seek sufferings. That would be strange. … But we are going to be honest enough to say trials are going to come, difficulties are to be faced. … Are we then to deny God? No, we are to bless him for his faithfulness, even in the midst of affliction.”
2 CORINTHIANS 4:16–18“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Commentary from the sermon “Knocked Down but Never Knocked Out!” by Alistair Begg:
“Look at the conclusion: ‘The contrasts, the troubles,’ he says, ‘are light, but the glory is heavy-duty. It far outweighs them. The troubles are momentary, but the glory is eternal. The troubles are troubles, but glory is glory.’ And so he says, ‘I bring my troubles into the light of God’s eternal perspective, and they dwindle into insignificance.’ … Have you brought your personal troubles into the light of God’s eternal perspective so much so that they have begun to diminish in their place in your life?”
JAMES 5:13“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”
Commentary from the sermon “Prayer and Praise” by Alistair Begg:
“Now, this is nothing superficial here. … What he’s referencing here is the facts of life. What do you do when cruel opposition comes your way, when you are unjustly punished, like Jeremiah? Or what do you do in the loss of a loved one, like Ezekiel? Or what do you do, like Hosea, when you face the disruption of marital infidelity? When trouble comes, what do we do?
“Well, let’s be honest for a moment: What do we do? What is the natural response to these circumstances? The natural response is to be disappointed, disheartened, perhaps despairing, grumble, complain, engage in self-pity, go in a corner and say, ‘Nobody else has ever experienced this. I am the only one that knows this.’ That would be natural. But the believer’s response, says James, is supernatural. His counteraction to the experience of trouble, affliction, calamity, difficulty is to ‘count it all joy’ and to pray.
“ … An important characteristic of genuine faith is that it doesn’t collapse when it is tested, so that like the writer to the Hebrews, we’re able to affirm, ‘We are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but we are those who continue and are saved’ (Heb. 10:39, paraphrased). Trials may become a source of joy when we respond to them in the way that God intends and in light of the fact that we understand that God has plans and purposes to accomplish in them and through them. But how do we get to that point? ‘Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.’ He should come before his heavenly Father, before her heavenly Father, in childlike trust and say, ‘I’m in trouble. And I need Your help.’”
PROVERBS 16:9“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Commentary from the sermon “Providence Defined” by Alistair Begg:
“You see, the dark providences of God—or the bright ones, for that matter—as we’ve said to one another, are seldom self-interpreting. … Something comes into our life, an event comes into our life, that just completely knocks us off our horse, and the temptation is for us immediately to say, ‘Well, I can figure this out; I know why this is.’ The chances are we don’t have a clue why it is. And we may find out in a week, we may find out in a year, we may find out in twenty, and we may never find out until eternity—and even then, God may choose not to disclose it to us. And so we’re forced to say, ‘Here I am in the grip of the mystery of God’s providential dealing with me, but I need to recognize that while it may be an impenetrable abyss to me, it is not an impenetrable abyss to God.’
“That’s why the Scriptures say, ‘He knows the way that I take’ (Job 23:10), so that I have to learn to say, ‘I do not know, but I do know that God knows.’ … That was the way Jesus dealt with His disciples. He said to them, ‘Why do you worry about this, and why do you worry about that? Don’t you realize that your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things?’ (See Matt. 6:25–34; Luke 12:22–34.)”
2 TIMOTHY 1:8“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.”
Commentary from the sermon “Suffering for the Gospel” by Alistair Begg:
“You were made purposefully for a relationship with God. That relationship is broken because of sin. Christ has come in order to bring about that reconciliation. He brings about that reconciliation and does not free us from the rigors and the challenges and the changes and the upsets and the difficulties of life that inevitably come our way. But He reminds us that His ability to provide for us is commensurate with our need.
“… ‘I don’t think I’m strong enough for this.’ [Have] you said that this week about something? ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to see this through. I don’t know if I’m emotionally strong enough, spiritually strong enough. I just don’t know if I can do it. How am I going to do this?’ ‘By the power of God.’”
LAMENTATIONS 2:20“Look, O LORD, and see! With whom have you dealt thus? Should women eat the fruit of their womb, the children of their tender care? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?”
Commentary from the sermon “Suffering in the Believer’s Life” by Alistair Begg:
“Suffering in and of itself does not lead a person into a deeper relationship with God. If you think about this, you know it to be true in your own life and in the lives of friends and family. People who have experienced great heartache: there is often about such individuals either a brittleness that is born of a resentful and rebellious spirit, or there is actually a gentleness that is born out of a heart of humility. And those of you who have recently gone through great pain and great suffering and great loss know that to be the challenge sixty seconds a minute. For everything in you wants to cry out and rebel and distrust and mistrust—and yet down that road is only further pain and further disappointment and a horrible attitude. And it is in childlike trust that we’re able to make progress.”
JOB 16:7“Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company.”
Commentary from the sermon “Why Suffering?” by Alistair Begg:
“When you read the Bible, you discover that the explanations in relationship to suffering and in relationship to pain are not provided in terms of cause and effect. The explanations in relationship to the dilemma are not there in taking it in terms of its origins but understanding it in terms of its goals. And when the Bible addresses the issue of pain and suffering, it does so within the framework of the fact that God, who is good and who is all-powerful, from all of eternity has a plan to create a people who are His very own, to conform them to the image of His Son, and to bring them safely to glory. And He will … do just whatever it takes in order to achieve that objective. And in the course of our lives, pain and suffering will be part of that.”