Where is God When it Hurts? Part 1

The Stages of Grief.

 

(John 11:35 KJV)  Jesus wept.

 

Although the shortest verse in the Bible the above two words speaks volumes about how much God cares about you. I know that I often remind you that you are loved with an everlasting, never-ending love, but I want you to really know it. Over the next four weeks we will be taking a journey through pain and suffering, grief and despair/ We will be walking through the valley of the shadow of darkness, in order to find our way out before we enter into the darkest portions. Solomon said it so clearly when he told us how there was a time for everything…..

 

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-7)  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

 

I remember a wise woman telling me once how when someone told her that when things were going bad and that she was down  to remember that this too will pass. And then she told her how when she was up and feeling blessed to remember that this too will pass. And like most of us at first thought we would except such logic and truth. But we can step beyond what is seen into the unseen and know that Jesus came that our joy would be full. He came to give us peace, not as the world gives it…. Which is fleeting… but to give us real lasting peace, that no one or anything can take away from us.

 

But the fact is that in this world there will be sorrows and pain and tribulation. But you can either learn from it, grow through it, get bitter or get better…. Before we actually get into the 5 stages of grief, I wanted to talk about Jesus. Jesus should be our example. He is our standard, buy which we set the course of our lives. He is the first cause, the great designer, the lover of our souls. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Someone asked this past week how I could make such an illogical claim. And granted, in order to fully be a “Christian” you are going to have to step out on faith, but not as far as you would have to step to not believe. All the heavens declare His glory. Logically we know that this world is fundamentally based upon cause and effect. Something happens and causes something else to happen. So logically taking this cause and effect law all the back there has to be an original cause. And not only a cause but a designer. Everything in nature, reveals the wonderment of great design. And with every design there has to be a designer. Then look at the miracle of a man’s changed life. One day a man could be headed for destruction and death, the next, after an encounter with Jesus His life is completely changed. There is no other logical explanation. So logically, it would be illogical to doubt the truth. Because like I always say…. “the truth is the truth whether you believe it or not.”

 

Now let’s go from the divine to the practical. Because God did not just speak this world into existence and leave us to flounder on our own. He gave us his infallible Word.  God’s Word is more then a lamp unto our feet it is His word that quickens our Spirits and is sharper then a two edges sword. By looking into His word we can find the wisdom and the peace that will see us through the darkest valleys and the highest mountain top experiences.

 

Today we are going to look at Jesus in pain. Now I know that there is a lot of different type of pain. There is the physical pain that we all experience on a daily basis. Some more then others.   About all I can tell you right now about that is that God is able. And rather then complain and grumble about the pain we should rejoice for without it we would be a most desperate people. There is a disease that is people suffer greatly because of their lack of feeling of pain. We have heard it called leprosy. Today it is know as Hanson’s Disease and is still prevalent, although treatable in the early stages.

 

I was reading a case study of a man who had gone blind because of the disease. What happens is that the eyes no longer feel the pain of dryness so they stop blinking and get all dried out. Although this seems like such a painful experience, for the patient the pain is not physical at all but his real pain is psychological. The pain he feels is the pain of separation.

 

We will be taking a closer look at physical pain as this series goes on but today I want us to concentrate on the emotional, psychological and spiritual side of pain and grieving. Now I am sure most of you have heard over and over from professionals as well as your next door neighbor about the stages of grief. Before I dive into this blindly I what you to realize that these stages are not in stone. It would be unrealistic and often  cruel to suggest that this pattern must be followed exactly and it specific times and durations. Everyone is an individual and handles change differently.

 

That brings us to the very definition of grief. The best definition that I came across is the formula of  Change = Loss = Grief.

 

This change can be anything from the weather to your job to your health and so much more. Now let’s go ahead and look at the basic five stages of Grief as we have been taught for all these years ever since Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ book “On Death and Dying” written in 1969.

 

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

 

Now for an example of these stages at work in our every day life:

 Let’s say your car won’t start:

  1. DENIAL --- What's the first thing you do? You try to start it again! And again. You may check to make sure the radio, heater, lights, etc. are off and then..., try again.
  2. ANGER --- "%$@^##& car!", "I should have junked you years ago.I should just leave you out in the rain and let you rust."
  3. BARGAINING --- (realizing that you're going to be late for work)..., "Oh please car, if you will just start one more time I promise I'll buy you a brand new battery, get a tune up, new tires, belts and hoses, and keep you in perfect working condition.
  4. DEPRESSION --- "Oh no, what am I going to do. I'm going to be late for work. I give up. My job is at risk and I don't really care any more. What's the use".
  5. ACCEPTANCE --- "Ok. It's dead. Guess I had better call the Auto Club or find another way to work. Time to get on with my day; I'll deal with this later."

 

Now let’s stop with all the psychobabble and go back to the Word to get us through these everyday struggles and the trials and tribulations that we will face until Jesus comes.

Going back to our scripture we can gain some strength and insight into getting through these times of sorrow by seeing and then doing what Jesus did. Now granted we may not be able to raise our loved ones from the grave, but we know that there is resurrection and there is life eternal in Christ.

The one statement that is made twice in this passage is this:

 (John 11:21b) Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

 

 (John 11:32 b) Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

How often do we in our pain cry out “Why LORD, WHY???”

We in our anger ask, where was God when the towers fell, where was God when my loved one was killed. Where was God when I had my accident? Where was God when this or when that happened? The fact is God was right there with every man and woman in that tower. He was right there with your loved one. He was right there in that car with you when you had the accident. He is right with you today.

In the first statement where Martha in her own way say’s “Where was God when my brother died?” Jesus gives us this wonderful truth that we can all hang unto.

(John 11:25-26 KJV)  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

 

The truth that we can hang unto when the rest of the world falls apart all around us is that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Yes we do go through some things but the key word is going through them and not getting stuck in them Yea though I walk “through” the valley of the shadow of death.  We walk through the valley not to the valley or in the valley.

(1Thessalonians 4:13-18 KJV)  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 

Just like the old hymn. “This could be the dawning of that grand and glorious day….”

Yes this could be the dawning of that day!!!!!

Everyday, we experience change and loss, but we do not have to despair. We do not have to walk in darkness. We do not have be alone and separate. Too often it is our own free will choice to be alone. This past Wednesday evening we looked at the 13th chapter of Luke where Jesus was teaching about loss and death and sin. In this chapter we see Jesus being asked, “where was God when these people died?” Or more correctly he was being asked if it was because these people were sinners, was that the reason they died so tragically? Jesus answer was one that we need to remember.

  (Luke 13:3 KJV)  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

 

Jesus was basically telling us to stop looking at other people and worry about ourselves. We are always taking notice of this and that Christian figure that fell, or that political character in some scandal. But what we need to be concerned about is our own Ps and Qs.

 

Now, just to take a little bunny trail, this idea of minding one’s Ps and Qs, has a couple of differing ideas of it’s coming about. They all stem around the pub and pints and quarts of ail. The first was that of someone behaving themselves, being told to mind their Pints and Quarts. The second and perhaps the more legitimate is when someone would run up a tab the bar server would mark down a quart instead of a pint and thus in order not to be cheated one should mind their own Ps and Qs….. Why do I take this crazy little bunny trail?

 

In the long, long run of eternity it does not matter what this person or that person does or did, what matters is your relationship with God. How does that old spiritual song go? “Not my mother, or my brother, or my father, LORD, standing in the need of Pray. It’s me, It’s me, It’s me Oh, LORD standing in the need of Pray.

 

When it comes to pain, it is not always the person in pain that suffers the pain. In a since we are all connected. That was the pain that Jesus felt when he wept in the 11th chapter of Luke. His heart breaks when you are in pain. He weeps for you and with you.

 

Now I do not think it would be fair to leave you today without giving you the answer to your proverbial question of Why? Why would such a loving god allow all this pain and suffering? It really comes down to our free will. It really comes down to you choosing between right or wrong. It comes down to your accepting the truth.  It is our own rebellion that keeps us running away from the God who longs for nothing more then to give us all the blessings in the heavens. Looking back at the end of the 13th chapter of Luke we see how God desires to cover us with His wings of love but we like puppies being put in a box keep mindlessly running our own way.

 

(Luke 13:34 KJV)  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

 

It is because of the fall of man that we have brought upon the pain ourselves. I know that it may not give us any comfort in the middle of the pain but the comfort can be realized in the reality that soon and very soon the corruptible will be putting on the incorruptible and things are really working together for your good.

 

I want to end today the way I started. You are loved with and everlasting never-ending love.  As we continue to search the scriptures to discover where God is when we hurt, hang on to the knowledge that He is even right now in your midst.