I mentioned earlier that our pastor's wife is very ill, and he is very busy attending to her at this time. Adam preached in Rob's place earlier this week, and Adam preached at our church again this morning. The session has agreed to give Rob a temporary leave of absence so that he can devote himself to his family needs right now. They've asked Adam to preach on Sunday mornings, during this time. No one knows how long this will be.
As I've also indicated, Adam would love to find a pastorate. Several times over the years, he's served as a pulpit supply for churches who find themselves without a pastor for an extended period. So he has experience, but no pastorate opened up for him this fall. However, God knew that our church would be needing him, here at home. God knew Bev would be sick, and Rob would need time off, and the church would need Adam. Aren't we glad that God knows these things ahead of time. It is always better to wait on God and his timing.
Adam's sermon this morning was from his heart -- about the purpose of suffering. About how God designs suffering in our lives for a purpose, to fit us for heaven. As Romans 5 says, suffering produces perseverance (living through it, toughing it out), but that's not its goal. The perseverance eventually produces character, often character that cannot be developed in any other way. Adam even admitted (boldly, I think) that he's prayed for some people to experience suffering, in order to improve their character. :0 And this character then produces hope. The hope we have (and it is such a significant chunk of life) is our hope of heaven. It reminds us that this world is only a prelude to a much more important reality. Thus, suffering is not just a chaos, nor a happenstance, nor the machinations of a cruel God. He only gives us the suffering that is necessary for our molding. And the suffering is not the goal; the hope is the goal.
Perhaps one could even say that, if a person is left in a constant state of suffering, without reaching the other stages, something is askew with how he's responding to his suffering. A large, dark world of people out there deal with their sufferings that way. I'm sorry to say that quite a few Christians do also. Scripture says we should not suffer as those without hope.
Okay, so not all of that was his sermon. I added a little bit!