Suffering: Are you prepared for future suffering that God may allow? Part 2

This is Part 2 of 2 parts answering the question, “Are you prepared for future suffering that God may allow?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?”

Prepare for Suffering in Eternity Future 

If you are a Christian, you will not have to be concerned about going through the Tribulation. But if you are not a child of God, you will enter into this horrific seven year period that is coming!2 It will be a time of God’s wrath, with incredible earthly destruction  and harm to the human race. The only way to prepare for that is to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, beginning an eternal relationship with Him. Then press forward by faith and abide in Christ so that you will bear the fruit of the Spirit and lead many others to Him.

 Suffering in Eternity

Although no one has gone to eternity and returned to describe what it is like, Scripure has numerous passages that enlighten us to the reality of that coming anguish. For example, the Lord Jesus recounted the death of Lazarus and the rich man,

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 “But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “Then he cried and said, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 “But Abraham said, `Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 `And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ (Luke 16:19-26 NKJ)

The rich man who arrived in hell was in deep agony. First, he pled for a water drop from a water-dipped finger to cool his tongue. Secondly, he was so weakened from his misery that he could only lift his eyes for a glimpse of mercy. Thirdly, he was separated from the comfort of Abraham by an impassible chasm. He cried for mercy from these torments, but his plea was answered by a resounding “No!”

There are many passages that describe eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth as part of eternal suffering (Matt. 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). Paul describes this everlasting destruction,

7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thes. 1:7-9 NKJ)

Again, the only way to avoid this dreadful outcome is to become a child of God by accepting the Lord Jesus as your Savior.

Why is our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ? Because He has overcome the world, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJ) And one day, He will do away with death,

24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:24-26 NKJ)

The sting of death will have no power over the person who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ,

54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:54-57 NKJ)

Are you prepared for eternity? The Lord Jesus Christ is your Substitute for the penalty of your sins. Believe on (trust in) Him and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).

Discussion Questions:

1) What kinds of movies portray suffering in the future?

2) How does having a ministry with those who are already suffering (such as those with disabilities) prepare you for your own?

3) Does your own suffering motivate you to want to reach out to those who are facing an eternal destruction? Why or why not?

4) How can we stir up a passion in Christians with a desire to reach out to those who are facing a Christ-less eternity?

5) What promises from Scripture do you cling to when you think about how you might suffer in the future?

 

1Joni Eareckson Tada, “Redeeming Suffering,” Why, O God. (Wheaton, Crossways, 2011), p. 20.

2The Tribulation is Daniel’s 70th week, which has not yet been fulfilled (Dan. 9:24-27). There are still seven years to complete the Age of the Jews prior to the Second Advent, when the Lord Jesus will return and establish His Millennial reign (Rev. 19, 20). Christians will be raptured out prior to the Tribulation, but all non-Christians will enter the Tribulation and have an opportunity to trust in the Lord Jesus.

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