February 3, 2017
“The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” I find myself returning to these verses a lot lately as I personally grapple with the grief that many within our church have had to face in these most recent days. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but a large number of families and persons within our body are hurting at this time and need our prayers, love, support, and encouragement. Some are dealing with deep physical and emotional pain, others are wrestling with discouragement and disappointment because of their own sin or the sins of another. Still others are facing the uncertainty of job loss, some are dealing with a very serious medical diagnosis that has left them perplexed and nervous. There are those who must daily face the pain of broken relationships, the deep concern for unsaved family members, and still others who are facing or even mourning the death of loved ones. As your pastor it is my undeserved privilege to have the honor of compassionately bearing these burdens with you, as we journey together down the trail of tears we all must travel, from time to time, as we traverse this fallen world for the glory of God.
Yet, while my heart has been heavy with and for you who are hurting, it has also been deeply saddened because of the purifying pain that our family has been privileged to personally experience in these days. There have been a number of difficult and unexpected circumstances that our family has been forced to deal with over the last few weeks and months. Many of you know about the very tragic death that took place last week within Amy’s family, but what you do not know is that at that same time we found out that our fifth child, the unborn baby that Amy was carrying, had no heartbeat. We have known for some time that Amy was pregnant with number five, and we were just waiting for the right time to inform everyone. However, last Thursday, which was actually Hunter, our second son’s birthday, we found out that the precious unborn life of this sweet baby was no more. The elders have tenderly encouraged us to share the news with the church so that you guys could be praying for us as we stand with and pray alongside all of you. You need to know that our family is holding up as we are grounded deeply in the surety of God’s loving sovereignty. Our family has been personally given the blessed gift of having to carry and work through grief and pain many times, but that does not remove the reality of the hurt and loss. Even still, while the pain is real, the hurt is deep, and the loss is hard; God is still good! As you pastor, there are so many things I want to share with you, but for now let me remind all of us that God is good even when it does not feel like it!
God Is Good Even When It Does Not Feel Like It!
So where do you turn when it seems like life has turned on you? Where do you find hope when everything hurts? How does one stand strong when the storms of life assault your home and heart? These are some of the most important questions that must be confronted throughout life, and praise the Lord that God has given us clear answers in His Word that provide confidence amidst the uncertainty of chaos. Let me encourage you with three biblical reasons why God is always good even when it does not feel like it. First, God’s goodness is not tied to life’s ever changing circumstances, but to His never changing character! One of the most strengthening truths in the Scripture is that God is immutable, meaning that He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This means that His undeserved goodness, undeniably and dramatically displayed throughout everyone’s life, is not eviscerated nor does it disappear when dark days come. This reality is what brought strength to the deeply sorrowful Jeremiah while he was watching the horror of Jerusalem’s destruction and the subsequent personal devastation of him and his people. Despite his misery, which was truly unlike any other, God’s mercy, grace, love, and His goodness would never end and was renewed every morning because God is always faithful to His own character!
Second, God’s goodness is never defined by how man feels or what man thinks, but by what God has declared in His Word. Having one’s life and emotions deeply grounded in the Scriptures is imperative for every follower of Christ as it is the only anchor that will hold during the rough seas of suffering that are sure to come. Emotions are real, and pain is hard, but God’s Word is true! It is a fact that emotions are fickle, and we must guard against following our feelings, especially when we are hurting. We are commanded and must resolutely follow God’s Word even in the face of conflicting feelings as we know that God’s Word is always true and revives the suffering soul. It is God’s Word that emphatically tells us that, while we may not see how or ever even know why, God is always faithfully working everything for His ultimate glory which is always for our final good! For many of us God uses the pain we go through to help us rightfully define “goodness” so that it fully aligns with His Word rather than being driven by our world! Sadly, for some of us this takes a lifetime to learn and we never get to a point where we see and savor the blessings that God brings through the bruisings of life.
Lastly, God’s goodness is not temporary or fleeting, but is everlasting because of the good news and gift of the Gospel. Life is hard and pain is real but the hope of the gospel is greater! You and I can lose everything and everyone this life has to offer. We can come apart physically, financially, and even emotionally, but if we are true believers we can never come apart from or be separated from Christ, which is the ultimate gift of God’s goodness. Christ not only walks with us through the valleys of pain and suffering holding us in His arms, but He feels our hurts and constantly prays for us knowing full well, even beyond us, what it is like to truly suffer. While pain is real, it is only temporary at best as Christ has conquered sin, death, and the grave so that we too will one day be done with this life of suffering, sickness, and sadness that all flow from sin. While my tears are true, they will not last forever nor will they last long when compared to an eternity of seeing and worshipping my Lord in His glory! The gospel changes everything as it gives hope in every hurt because in it God’s goodness is on undeniable display as through Christ our greatest problem was dealt with, our greatest need was met, and the greatest gift was given. This eternal gift of God’s goodness in Christ alone is one that I can never earn, never lose, and it can never be taken from me, no matter how dark the day may seem!
I pray this will further equip all of us for biblically dealing with the disappointments that buffet all of us. I pray that this will be encouraging to those of you who have recently come through trials, and I pray that this will be a Scriptural salve that will strengthen the souls of us who are currently suffering. I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday as we praise God together for always being good, even when it does not feel like it.