RE: Comfort (Blessed Anyways - Part 3)
We ended last week with Jesus telling the poor in spirit that theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I've told you that with the Bible, context is important. The "kingdom of heaven" triggers a thought in Jesus. What do we know is one key element of the kingdom of heaven? What is one thing we are promised in Revelation 21:4?
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
And yet here is this same Jesus who makes this promise looking upon people like you and me, still living here on Earth, still living with "the old order of things." Meaning we still endure death, crying and pain. Mourning is a very real thing in the here and now.
Right now some of you are mourning. Today you may not be thinking about it, but if you dig down just beneath the surface, you are mourning. It becomes a part of you.
This past Monday I received a text from my sister: "Happy 'Momorial' Day. 17 years." She didn't misspell Memorial. She was remembering that our mom died 17 years ago on May 31st on Memorial Day. There is grief there. Mourning. Even 17 years later.
To all who mourns with the old order of things, Jesus has a message:
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matt. 5:4
This is not only a future promise of a comforting heaven. Jesus promises comfort will come even within this world if we will remember what he says in this second Beatitude. In fact, for those of you who are mourning this morning, I want you to imagine that this sermon is God's email to you. He has received your transmission of grief, of sadness. For those of you wondering if your spirit will ever feel comfort from your loss, God writes to you. RE: Comfort. Regarding Comfort. RE: means regarding.
In the English language Re- is also a prefix with the meaning of again or back. I need to refill my water bottle, it's nearly empty. Because there was no winner the teams will replay next week. Let me review this report to make sure I understand. We can wash these jars and reuse them. I would like to share three re-verbs so you can re-capture God's comfort in your life.
1. REALIZE that God is with me.
When we're hurting we forget where God is. We think He seems distant or that He doesn't care. But the fact is He's there.
Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
God is with you in your pain. Allow me to tell you three things about God when you're in pain:
A) God is aware.
Job 33:11 says, "You keep a close watch on all my paths."
God is watching over you. Nothing escapes His eye. Psalm 56:8 says your tears, every sorrow you've cried is numbered. Some of you say, "Nobody knows what I'm going through." God knows. God cares.
B) God cares.
"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Psalm 46:1
We have a sympathetic heavenly Father who really cares. Your pain matters to God. It really does. You can talk to Him about your hurt.
C) God wants to help me out.
"Let us approach God with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
God not only offers us awareness, He offers us assistance. God not only cares about your hurt, He wants to help you with your hurt. He doesn't just write you a note, "I'm thinking of you in this time." The word "comfort" comes from the word "confortus" -- Old English "with strength". God wants to strengthen you and give you comfort.
Some people grow through their pain and some people get stuck in their pain. Why? Because they never take the second step. Step one, realize that God is with me. He cares, He's aware, He wants to help me. If I just said that -- that God is with you in your pain -- that would be enough. But how do you get on out of the pain and get on with life?
2. RELEASE the hurt.
Let it go. How? I must stop focusing on what's lost and start focusing on what's left.
Isaiah 43:18 “’Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing’ (says the Lord).”
God says, your past is past; let it go! It can't hurt you any more. Some of you are letting people from your past continue to hurt you. That dumb! They can't hurt you unless you let them. That's a choice. Let it go! I release the past.
Here are the options what you can do with your hurt:
A) Repress it. Push it down, swallow it. If you swallow your feeling your stomach keeps score. If you pretend it doesn't exist and hold it in -- that's unhealthy. I meet walking wounded all of the time because they've never let go of their hurt. They keep repressing it.
B) Rehearse it. They go over and over it in their mind. They torture themselves by thinking about it over and over. God says, Don't dwell on the past. Don't let it consume your thoughts. There's a big difference between mourning and moaning. Mourning is legitimate grief. Moaning is "Oh, poor me! Poor me!" And you want to keep a hold of it. You're having a pity party.
C) Resent it. When somebody has hurt us, when the pain is caused by somebody else, we fantasize about how we can get back at that person in the same way they got us or got somebody that we love. Resentment eats you up. It kills you inside. It eats you alive and destroys us. God says you don't repress it; don't rehearse it; don't resent it.
D) Release it. Release the hurt to God. What does that mean? If you want to let go of your hurt, you must let God settle the score. If somebody's hurt you, let God handle it. Who do you think could do a better job at getting even? Or at getting you better? The most painful hurts are those that are out of our control. But it's not out of God's control. Give it to God.
Look over this list and consider your hurt. Which option have you chosen? Repress? Rehearse? Resent? Or Release? If you are mourning and you want to experience God's comfort you need to:
1) REALIZE that God is with me;
2) RELEASE the hurt to God.
And then one more thing...
3. RELY on God's Resources.
Rely on God's resources to comfort you. How do I be happy in the midst of trial and tragedy? Receive God's comfort. God uses three things to comfort us. It's amazing what some people try to be comforted by. Some people take pills. Some people get drunk. Some people try affairs. Some people watch TV all the time. Some people read novels, fantasize in novels. Some people sleep all the time. All trying to get rid of all the pain in their life. God says, Don't do those things. They are just quick fixes, they don't last.
God's three resource comforters:
A) God's Word.
Fill your mind with Scripture. David said in Psalm 119:25 and 52 "I am completely discouraged... Revive me by Your Word. Your Word has been my comfort."
Read through the book of Psalms and highlight all the verses that comfort you. Then you will have them in those times of trouble to read what God says to you. There are over 7000 promises in this Bible. Underline all the promises so you'll know where they are. And claim them.
I know that in our congregation, there's a lot of hidden hurt. Behind our pretty faces is a lot of pain. You come saying, "Does God have a Word for me?"
The answer is "Yes, He does have a word for you. The word is, your pain matters to God." He sees it, He understands it, He feels it. He'll help you in that frustration, that pain, that hurt. Look to God's Word and become a student of this book.
B) God's People.
We need each other. We were not made to be isolated from each other. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. We need each other to make it. If you don't have any family we are your family. This church is a family. That's what God meant the church to be. You need to be in a family. You need to have those people to encourage you in tough times.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "The God of all comfort comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
If you're hurting today, you are not alone in your hurt. You think your problem is unique, when, in fact, hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people over the history of humanity have had the very same problem you have right now. You just need to open up and share where you're hurting so they can be with you and help you out. For your own sake, don't just be a spectator; be a participator.
If you're not in pain, what does this verse say? Can you remember that pain you went through months ago, or years ago? God allows us to go through problems, comforts us, so we can turn around and comfort other people with the same comfort we've received.
People in pain don't need advice. They just need someone to say, "I understand. I know what it's like to have a child die. I know what it's like to go through a divorce. I know what it's like to lose your job overnight. I know what it's like to miss a goal, a dream."
God never wastes a hurt. If you have had a problem in your life that you have gone through, you have an obligation to other people to help them through it too. That's your ministry. They need your comfort. They need your help.
C) God's Spirit is our comfort.
This is the greatest comfort of all. God himself wants to be your friend. Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked around in a body here on earth and said to His disciples, "I'm going to go back to heaven but when I go, I'm going to come back to earth in another form, in the form of a Spirit, so I can be with you and in you." That's the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ coming in another form. He called the Holy Spirit the Comforter. One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to comfort us. He wants to have a relationship to you so that when the tough tragedies of life come you have some inner strength.
Romans 15:13 (Phillips translation) "May the God of hope fill you will all joy ... that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope."
When God puts His Spirit in your life, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope. And that's what you need, something to hope in. SomeOne to hope in.
The Bible says when Jesus Christ comes into our life, we have a hope. Revelation 21:4 says that someday in heaven for believers there will be a place of no pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering, no more grief, no anger, no more resentment, no more victims.
But for now, you will have to face some major tragedies in life. The question is what are you going hold onto when that comes? What is going to motivate you to get up, get out of bed and go on, when your whole world ends because of the death of a loved one, a major crisis or tragedy? What is going to give you hope?
God says, I'm aware, I care, I want to help you out, to be your friend. I will strengthen you and help you." He says, I want to help you out.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matt. 5:4
Comfort is available. Not in pills, drinking, affairs, movies, books, whatever, but in God, in Himself. Turn to Him you will make it through.
Conclusion: I want to invite you to make three commitments.
1. Open up your life to Jesus Christ's Spirit.
Just say, "Jesus Christ, put Your Spirit in my life. I don't understand it all. I don't know what it all means. But I realize I'm not making it on my own power. I need God in my life. Jesus Christ, put Your Spirit in my life and give me the strength I need to be the person You want me to be and to help me through this pain.
When you go down in a submarine they pressurize the cabin. The pressure on the outside of the cabin would implode the submarine if they didn't equalize with pressure on the inside. When you're going through pain, the only way to equalize the pressure put on you from the outside, is to be filled with God's Spirit on the inside. That equalizes the pressure so you don't cave in, in a crisis.
2. Invest in church family.
Invest your resources - time, money, friendship, personality. Make a commitment. "I'm not going to just be a spectator. I'll be a participator. I'm going to get to know some people." If you don't get to know your church family, who's going to be there in your crisis? Who's going to hang around you if you don't get with some people and let them know you -- you help them and they help you?
3. Give your life away.
Realize that if God has helped you in a crisis, He wants you to share that with other people. If you've gone through a divorce or had a problem with alcohol or you've gone through a failure at work, or have had kids go off and forget what you've taught them, you've been through a major problem in life and lost a loved one, let that become a ministry in your life encouraging others.