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When Things Go Awry

July 9, 2012

It happens.  Things will be going along swimmingly and then something unexpected hits and you’re left wondering what to do.  Maybe the air conditioner went out and is going to cost you $4,000 that you don’t have.  Or maybe you just were diagnosed with cancer.  Or maybe you were barely scraping paycheck to paycheck and you just found out you’re being laid off from your job.  Or maybe your marriage is on the brink and you just found out you’re expecting another child.

It could be almost anything.  Life does not follow our plans no matter how well we may plan them out. All sorts of stresses, trials, and tests hit our lives and we’re often wondering how we’re going to make it through this latest challenge.  The one you’re facing always seems bigger than the last one you endured regardless of whether it really is or not.

How about if you knew you only had hours to live before someone was going to kill you.  That kind of stress would seem nearly unbearable.  Even worse if you knew you had done nothing to warrant being killed.  Sure the people on death row have some sort of idea why they’re about to be executed. Whether they believe in capital punishment or not, they can understand they killed someone and, by law, are deserving the death penalty.

Yet Jesus was an innocent Lamb being led to the slaughter.

Matthew 27:19 — Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.” (NLT)

While Jesus was being unlawfully tried after a set up by the legalistic religious zealots, the only one to come to His defense during the trial was Pontius Pilate’s wife. She was the only one who spoke up on His behalf declaring Him innocent and telling her husband to leave Jesus alone.

Hours before her dream, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane earnestly asking the Father “if there be any other way, let this cup pass from Him”.  But there wasn’t.  Jesus knew, but He needed to know for sure that He would truly have to suffer and die for our sakes.  He sweat blood droplets.  That’s stress.

He knew, in advance, He would be taking upon Himself the entire outpouring of God’s wrath against sin.  His Father loved Him and found no fault in Him. But Jesus became sin, became the very embodiment of sin, our sin not His.  OUR sin!  He took that holy wrath and punishment from the Father upon Himself for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 — God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

Jesus took what was not His (our sin) and made it His responsibility.

He bore the judgement of sin in His body so that we could have His righteousness imputed to us.

Suddenly the trials we face don’t quite seem as big.  You see, we have an advocate with the Father … Jesus.  We can go to Him in prayer and seek His guidance and trust His answers are coming.  It may not be an answer we want to hear, but the answer is coming when we place our whole trust in Him.

We might be told, “No, you will not be able to keep your house.  It will be lost to foreclosure, but I will take care of your needs.”

And maybe that’s the truth of the whole situation … we get ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ too easily confused.  Having a 2600 square foot home with three bedrooms and 2.5 baths isn’t really a need.  Having a $50k car that requires high performance gasoline and specialized maintenance every two months isn’t a need.  That restaurant with the delicious $45 filet mignon isn’t really a need.

I think you get the idea.  Things we take for granted in this country, things we believe we’re entitled to, don’t really measure equally from an eternal perspective.

So what DOES matter?  And more importantly, how are we supposed to respond when faced with a trial?

Good questions, both.

When we’re asked what really matters in life, the answer is simplistic.  God’s glory.  That’s why we’re here.  It’s what this whole thing called life is about.  Giving God the glory in everything.  We’re commanded that in everything we do, to give God the glory.  Our faith brings Him glory. Setting our hearts and lives in submission to Him brings Him glory. Even the suffering we endure brings Him glory when we trust Him throughout it.

How should we respond when we’re faced with adversities?  Don’t be surprised.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people are like, “I never thought this would happen to me.”  Really?  Where have you been hiding?  Has your head been stuck in the sand blinding you to life’s little explosions?  Life hits us all.  No one is immune.  Jesus told the parable of the storm coming and the house built on the sand crumbled, but the one built on the rock stood.  Did you notice the storm hit both houses?

Last year my family was hit with an tremendous heart break with the loss of our 26 year old son.  Richie endured a battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy his entire life. The doctors originally diagnosed him and gave a life expectancy of 12-14 years.  His life was a living example of both how to endure struggles and giving glory to God in the process.  He believed he would be healed. His faith was strong in the Lord.  Regardless of a good day, bad day, good month, or bad month, he never wavered.  His heart and focus was on the Lord.  He prayed and read the bible every day. His relationship with the Lord grew stronger as his body grew weaker.  In the end, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he would be healed.  And he had a peace with the Lord that whether that healing came on this side of eternity or the other, it didn’t matter.  God was the one that would heal him and He would be glorified in and through our son’s life.

White-knuckling the storms is one way to make it, but there’s no peace in it.  Placing all of your hopes, fears, dreams, goals, faith, and life in the awesome working power of Jesus Christ and allowing Him to change you by the Holy Spirit glorifies God. AND He fills you with a peace in your heart in the midst of you’re enduring.  It’s always easier to have peace when you don’t look at death as an end, but rather just turning a page. because we are truly all eternal beings.   While we dearly miss our son, and are still going through the grieving process, we also know where he is. We thank God for the time we had to be his parents and have hope in the promise that we’ll see him again soon.

Regardless of the trial you’re facing, place everything about your test and your life into the hands of the Father.  Let the words of Jesus on the cross give rest to your soul.

John 19:30 — It is finished. (NLT)

It. Is. Finished.  Beautiful words.  While we may not see the victory ahead, Jesus has already won the battle, defeated our enemy, overcome death and hell, and made the way for us to become children of God … to His glory.

— Pastor Rick

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