RSS

Open Source Sermon (Tuesday, September 29)

29 Sep

At the risk of sounding heretical, there are some portions of the Scriptures that I don’t like. They are simply too painful to endure, too real, too comfort shaking. I grew up in an era where the gospel was presented with a “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” paint brush. To follow Christ meant to walk away from all that was painful and to enter a field of flowers and peace.

The problem with such a “Your Best Life Now” kind of picture is that it doesn’t square well with the Biblical witness. Those who followed the Lord and the Christ did not live in comfort and pleasure. The testimony of Hebrews 11.32-38 (the “faith chapter”) describes in detail the painful lives of those who followed the One True God in a fallen world.

Or consider the testimony of Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet.” One of our favorite songs that we sing on Sunday mornings is “Great is Thy Faithfulness” where we rejoice in the mercies of God that are new every morning. What you may not know is the Biblical source for that idea. It comes from the testimony of Jeremiah found in Lamentations 3. As you read the following, remember the words of Jesus: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked. Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall. He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. (Lamentations 3.1-29)

A few questions come to mind. For instance, according to Jeremiah, who was responsible for the pain and grief in his life? How did he move from a downcast soul, deprived of peace, and dwelling in darkness to rejoicing and hoping in the faithfulness of the Lord? How was Jeremiah comforted in his mourning?

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

2 responses to “Open Source Sermon (Tuesday, September 29)

  1. JulH

    September 30, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Often this verse is quoted among Blvrs. I too have often had this verse echo in my own mind and in my heart. But I must say, for the first time in too long, I really paid attention to the context. Some of the hardest months that I have journeyed through have been recent months. I found myself reading these verses and then quickly convinced by the HS to read the chapter. I was quickly reminded that nothing is outside of His hand. Nothing is beyond Him. So though my circumstances are very different than my Brother in this text, I found great comfort in my mourning in His grace, as I remembered again that He knows. He allows. He is sovereign. These circumstances are not happening apart from Him.

    Part of my journey these last few months has been learning what it is to be “perplexed, but not despairing” as Bro Paul said. In the end, what brings the comfort is not an end to the circumstance or the feelings or perplexing thoughts, but remembering that in the midst of this, He is sovereign, He is good, He is out for His glory, and in all of this there is hope because He is love and He is mercy. There is nothing outside of His hand.

    Finally I think about Peter’s Letter to us. We often read just the verse that says, “Cast all of your cares upon Him and he will lift you up.” But read the whole thing… “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

    Now that gives me hope.

    So though His ways are not my ways, I can trust fully in the One who does change, does not fail, and does not make a mistake.

     
  2. JulH

    September 30, 2009 at 11:00 am

    because i can no longer edit this, I wanted to make clear that there should be a “not” before change in the last sentence. Goodness. That is important. =)

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: