We start a new sermon series this week title Pain Killer. It’s a series about bringing our pain to Jesus. This week we look at the pain of loss. The front cover of the announcements this week follows.
Death is ever-present. From the moment we’re born, we are moving closer and closer towards death. Babies who warm hearts with their giggles and smiles are moving towards death. Preschoolers, despite their wild play, laughter and energy, are moving towards death. Teens, adults, seniors—we’re all inching closer to death every day of our lives.
Death seems so final. On the one hand, we know that there is life in Jesus for those who trust completely in Him. We’ve heard Jesus’ words to Martha before:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
And yet, believing and dealing with the pain of loss are two completely different things. Death seems so final because it’s the end of our time with our loved one. There’s life to come, yes, but we’re still stuck with the stark reality that we will never see our beloved child, wife, husband, mother or father again here on earth. Jesus, the very Son of God, wept at the loss of His friend Lazarus—and Jesus even knew He would raise his friend from the dead!
So how do we cope with the pain of loss? The pain so deep and sharp that it threatens to overwhelm us and pull us under the waterline, drowning in it. We bring it to Jesus, the one who understands our pain. The one who understands and walks through the pain with us. The one who understands and brings life through death. The one who is life.
I know not every job is like this, but one of the interesting things about my job is that it is very integrated with my life. Here’s what that means. There aren’t a lot of clear boundaries as to when I’m working and when I’m playing (play here is defined as not work).
Now, generally speaking, I certainly major in work while at work and major in play when at home. But, largely because of technology, my work and play bleed into one another fairly regularly. Some examples:
Email: Despite the fact that you can email me at my work account (an @FirstTrinity.com email) or my play account (@gmail.com), it all goes to the same place. This means I process both work and play email every time I check my email. This is why you may get a work-related email from me at 11 p.m. or a play email at 1 p.m.
Blogging: Generally speaking, I read blogs when I have an opportunity to do so. It’s easier to divide work and play blogs, but I read both types in both places. I also do some play blogging at work and work blogging at play.
Twitter: One of the things about Twitter that I love is that I can get small bits of teaching wherever I am. I can also get Fantasy Football news and information. And updates on my friends’ lives. Work and play co-exist.
Sometimes it’s best to have a clear divide between the two things. For me, that’s often on Mondays, which is my “day off”. Very rarely do I respond to work requests on Mondays. Occasionally, but not often. There are also times where I need to erect a barrier so play things don’t interrupt me at work. Usually this involves shutting down my email/twitter/blogging software and focusing exclusively on work.
So here are two theological questions associated with this:
Is your relationship with God integrated with your life?
When do you build a barrier to keep out the world and focus exclusively on God?
Of course, God wants both: Life integration and moments of exclusivity.
Or does He? We’re continuing our Urban Legends series at Sunday School this weekend looking at the statement “God wants you happy”. It’s a tough one to think about. Does He want us happy? Or does He want us full of Joy? And is there a difference for people today?
Tough question. Looking forward to our discussion this weekend about it. What are your thoughts? Does God want you happy?
I loved John McCain’s VP pick, mostly because it was so unexpected. Obama picked exactly who I thought he would (older, experienced, male statesman). But few saw this coming, which led to all kinds of excitement among the GOP base and other voters. I’m not one to sit and watch Fox News or CNN for hours (largely because I don’t have access to it unless I’m here at my Mom’s house), but I couldn’t help myself last night as I wanted to find out about Palin. I didn’t see this coming, so I couldn’t help but spend time reading about it and listening to people talk about it. (Ironically, I find myself wondering if it’s too late to pull the ol’ switcheroo and make Sarah Palin the presidential nominee.)
But politics aside, I wonder if God’s people ever felt this way. God specializes in doing the unexpected, from floating axe heads to stopping the sun to countless others. Did the people rush to hear the news of what God had done? Was it so amazing that people couldn’t stop talking about it? I imagine it was. Do we have the same reaction to God’s Word?
Isaiah 43:1-3a 1 Bot now, this is what the LORD says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
No matter what happens in our life, our future is secure. God has redeemed us. He keeps us safe. He is our God. He’s bigger than our fears and more powerful than our enemies. Have you come to God with your fears lately?
1 Peter 5:10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen and settle you.
Change is all around us. The culture is changing, the seasons are changing, our lives our changing. Even truth is changing, according to the world. But God is unchanging. He is our firm foundation, restoring, establishing strengthening and settling us. Where are you feeling unsettled in your life?