Thursday, September 22, 2011
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:24-27
By using the title “If Life Caves In, What Then?” I am not encouraging you to believe that life is going to cave in on you. Many people live in terror of what may happen, and that is heathenish. They waste a great deal of energy worrying about that which is not going to happen. Someone has said, “Today is the tomorrow that we worried about yesterday.”
Some of us have made such an idol out of happiness that we do not know how to deal with unhappiness. Occasionally it does seem that life is caving in on us.
I have seen life cave in on many people. When a young man’s fiancée was killed in an automobile accident, it seemed to him that life had caved in. A couple’s youngest son greatly disappointed them with his irresponsible attitudes and actions, which led to the accidental death of one of his classmates. For them, life had caved in. A young wife was injured in a diving accident and was almost totally paralyzed. In addition to this tragedy, her husband forsook her and their child. For her, life caved in. A fifty-year-old man lost his job and because of his age was unable to get another job to support his family. For him, life had caved in. A young soldier, while rescuing a wounded buddy, was horribly and irreparably disfigured. In spite of the best efforts of the plastic surgeons, they could not restore a nose and ears and fingers that had been burned away in an explosion. For him, life had caved in.
What will you do when death comes to take away your dear and beloved companion? How would you react if you were to find yourself suffering the heartbreak of knowing that your companion had been unfaithful to the marriage vows? If your children bring heartaches, disappointments, and possibly disgrace, how will you pick up the pieces?
We have often heard it said that it is too late to buy insurance after the house has burned down. As the farmer said to his boy, it is too late to close the gate after the cattle are out and gone. And so we need to make some preparation in case life should cave in upon us.
Each of us should face up to the fact that we can individually be responsible for causing life to cave in on ourselves. Many of the tragedies and troubles that plague us are but the consequences of errors in our judgment or faulty choices that we made without considering the destiny to which the choice would lead. Today we will concentrate on preparing for troubles that may come over which we have no control.
1) Face life with real faith.
Paul, the author of our text, declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He believed and demonstrated that a man can be victorious over the circumstances that befall him provided he faces life with a courageous and steadfast faith. We need to have a faith that will sustain us and strengthen us in the time of crisis. We should not be satisfied with a faith that needs to be defended and propped up. A complete faith is a faith that recognizes that genuine piety does not provide us with an immunity against pain and sorrow. We must recognize that life may cave in on us even if we are some of the very best of God’s children.
We must have faith to believe that God is a good God and that all of his purposes toward us are purposes of love.
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). The Devil will win his victory over us when life caves in if he can cause us to believe that God is not a good God. He has sought to deceive people in this manner since the beginning of human history (Gen. 3:4-5). We must believe that God is a good God in spite of the fact that at times he appears otherwise. God is not our enemy. He wants to shower upon us the abundance of heavenly love.
We must have faith to believe that God is at work for our good in all things that happen (Rom. 8:28).
Many have misquoted and misunderstood this verse. Some have interpreted it to say, “Everything happens for the best.” That just is not so. Many things happen for the worst, for they shatter and wreck and ruin and bring awful agony into human lives. There are others who interpret this verse to say, “Whatever happens is the will of God,” and this is not so. This would mean that God is responsible for evil, and God is not responsible for evil. We should not blame him for the fact that life caves in on us at times.
This verse expresses the faith of the apostle to the effect that God will be at work in everything that happens to those who love him in order to rescue and to restore and to bring every possible good out of that which appears to be a complete disaster. We can count on God to help us with our burdens, our problems, our questions, and our sufferings. Someone has jokingly said, “If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” The apostle is declaring that if life hands you a lemon, then God will be there to help you make the best lemonade that can possibly be made!
We must have faith to believe that God will not permit impossible burdens to come upon us (1 Cor. 10:13).
The Bible provides a continuing testimony that God will be with us to provide us with strength and wisdom and grace that are sufficient to bear the burdens of life. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised complete immunity from trouble if we have faith. Instead, we are promised the strength of God’s presence through which we can be adequate. Paul believed that God would provide for all of our needs through Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:19).
We must have faith to believe that there may be a redemptive purpose in some of our sufferings.
Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh that was a continuing source of agony to him. With all his heart he prayed at least three times for the removal of this thorn (2 Cor. 12:7-8). As he struggled he discovered that there was a benevolent purpose behind this hardship (2 Cor. 12:9).
It is altogether proper that we seek to learn everything possible through the experiences that come to us. Hosea is a case in point. His contribution to the divine revelation came through the wound that was inflicted upon his heart by the moral and spiritual breakdown of his wife.
Only by means of a genuine faith in the greatness of God can we hope to overcome the world and be triumphant even amid tragedy.
2) Avoid faulty ways of facing tragedy.
Sometimes tragedy can be compounded by the fact that we use faulty methods of dealing with the tragedies that befall us. There are certain ways of facing tragedy that need to be avoided.
Feelings of guilt and self-condemnation overwhelm some people when tragedy comes.
In many instances we have to face the fact that we are at least partially responsible for life caving in on us. To accept proper responsibility is a wholesome thing, but we must not permit feelings of guilt and self-condemnation to destroy us.
It is impossible to change or even to alter the events of yesterday. We can only deal with the consequences of yesterday. Instead of cultivating our sense of guilt with continuous self-condemnation, we need to enter into the forgiveness of God. Also, we need to forgive ourselves. It is neither Christian nor logical to continue to condemn oneself for past mistakes.
We must not react to tragedy with bitter resentment and hatred.
It is easy to hate and to hold resentment toward someone who has been responsible for tragedy or disappointment in our lives. We need to recognize that hate is a corrosive force; it is a malignant thing that distresses the heart if we permit it to remain in our lives.
It is normal to experience some self-pity and moods of depression when tragedy strikes.
All of us have felt sorry for ourselves at times. All of us will feel sorry for ourselves at some future time, but we need to recognize that this is not the best way to deal with tragedy. We must gain the victory over self-pity and depression.
Some resort to an artificial escape from tragedy through alcohol or drugs.
We need to be on guard lest our emotions deceive us. Instead of giving way to some faulty way of facing tragedies, we need to look to God. The psalmist said, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).
3) Grow a faith that can sustain you.
We must become doers of the Word as well as bearers of the Word (Matt. 7:24-27).
Living the life of faith provides one with inward resources that are adequate for the time of testing.
We should face the daily trials of life with joy (James 1:2).
This kind of joy is possible only to one who has faith to believe that God is present in any circumstance to provide an opportunity for growth and Service.
Face your problems on your knees (James 1:5).
Most of us are short on wisdom, so James encourages us to ask God for divine insight and understanding. Wisdom is available to those who trust God and ask for his guidance.
Enjoy God’s blessings day by day in the present.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Deliberately look for that which can bring joy and thanksgiving into the heart.
Live life one day at a time.
Do not worry about tomorrow. The sparrows could preach us a powerful sermon at this point. They work and do not worry. Life may never cave in on you, so do not worry about what may not happen.
Now in Conclusion
The secret key to the door of happiness is in the capacity, disposition, and determination to be a giver of joy and happiness to others in all circumstances. You can face life courageously and victoriously if you will determine with God’s help to always be a giver. Some of God’s richest blessings to the world have come through those for whom life caved in.
God Bless You, Pastor Mike