Calvary Methodist Church

Celebrating and Sharing God's Embracing Love in the World

God’s Presence In Sorrow

Romans 8: 18-38

Paul writes I this passage, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Our relationship with God is often if not always under attack. Should anything negative happen to us the first person to be blamed is God. “why is this happening to me?” What did I do do deserve this God? As if God is punishing us. We ask ourselves these questions. As soon as we start asking these questions, life throws at us things that promise relief, even though in the end we get to be disappointed. As we embrace these promises we then drift away from God. We stop communicating with God or God becomes secondary in our lives. These things take the prime spot in our lives.  It feels as though God is not for us.It feels as though God does not care. He takes long to answer when we pray. It feels as though he is not listening. When we are in sorrow these are the thoughts that dominate our minds and our lives.

God Cares and Understands the Language of Tears – then who can be against us?

I find comfort in the story of the Israelites who faced Pharaoh’s hard rule for many years. The Israelites cried out and it must have felt as though God did not hear their cry. It was after centuries that God sent Moses to stand before Pharaoh and ask him to let go of the Israelites. “Go down Moses to Pharaoh. I have heard my people cry. Tell Pharaoh to let my people go.” God was listening to the Israelites. Humanity was caught up in sin. The Law was not helping. Humanity was waiting for  Saviour. Ultimately, Jesus came in an unexpected manner. He came and took away the sin of the world. God cared so much that God’s son died on the cross for us to live. You understand that God cares when you read the story of Lazarus who died and the whole village mourned. Lazarus’ sisters cried out, “Had you been here our brother would not have died.” Jesus felt their pain, heard their lamenting, saw their tears. He was moved and he cried! Imagine the son of God crying. Seemingly compassion is a heavenly language. God not only cares, but understands the language of tears. Jesus used this language on the Cross. “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Sorrow is understood by God.

Because we think God does not understand or care we end up stopping sharing our pain with God. There is an English saying, “A shared pain is half a pain. When we share our pain with God, God does not judge us. I would to give you an opportunity to share your pain with God. On a piece of paper write down the things that are troubling your heart. Write the things that have made you to be on the receiving end of trouble. Use the paper to pour out this time all that you have been receiving that has been troubling your heart. We need to learn to let it out. Like I said two weeks ago, we then develop nice language when we avoid sharing, “I have developed a thick skin. Tigers don’t cry.” This way of thinking makes the pain to pile up in our lives and yet Jesus said, “Come to me all who are heavily burdened and I shall give you rest.” We do this by sharing our pain with Jesus. Irrespective of age, gender or any of the divides we use to separate us, sorrow and pain knows none of these. Even children have their sorrows. You may think saying to a child they must drink water instead of fizzy drinks is an easy thing. It becomes a moment of trouble for them. A child who has been molested has to live with the reality of being violated by an older person and yet still expected to trust others. A child who has been bullied at school has to live with deteriorating self-confidence and coping at school with all the uneasiness. We all have to share our pain.

God Responds and Helps us to Feel Again – then who can be against us?

When we share our pain we must also expect God to respond. At times not in the manner in which we expected God to respond. At time God sends people to listen to listen to our pain. Their response to our pain may not be what we were hoping for. When we have a voice that says the life we have chosen is causing so much pain that we are losing ourselves in it and we are not ready to choose another life, we dismiss the response to. Take for instance, the OJ Simpson case. His wife Nicole forced herself to remain with him with all the abuse she was experiencing. No matter how many times her friends advised her to walk away, she chose the abuse. Perhaps it was giving her status as OJ was the most popular American at the time we will never know. Did she love him so much, we will never know. All we know is that she dismissed all the advice she was getting. At times we see the signs like Reeva Stienkamp, but we hope things will work out. In the process we lose ourselves in the sorrow and we end up losing our lives. When we are in debt and we are asked to scale down. We don’t like it. To be challenged about the current life is a blessing. It helps us to feel again. At times our pain makes us numb, hence the thick skin. We lose our emotions. We lose our feelings. We choose not to feel anymore. We become less human. When we have someone who reminds us to feel again we soon realize that we had become so unstable, emotionally, physically and psychologically. We therefore need to feel in our moments of sorrow, otherwise, we lose ourselves in the pain. The people who help us are those whom Paul says they are groaning waiting for God’s children to be revealed.

God Opens us to See the Possibilities – who then can be against us? 

When we feel again, we also begin to see the possibilities to discovering life again. At times our past captures us so much that we do not see anything different to it. We then find ways of coping with the past than breaking away from it. This makes us live in the past. The reality is that God has given us the gift of time so that there can be progression in life. Our lives stand on three legs, the past that can teach us profound lessons because of our experiences.

There is also the PRESENT. At times we forget about the present moment because our past overshadows the present moment. Life can easily be defined by our past especially when the past has been very painful and traumatic. If someone has been hijacked the flashbacks make it difficult to see people approaching and not be anxious they are going to violate your space. When you have been abused in your past relationship, even when you have found love, you can easily have trust issues. The present does not exist, your past defines the present moment. But also the present experiences can easily blot out everything good that has ever happened. This is dangerous because it makes it difficult to move forward in life. The reality though is that present moment soon becomes the past in terms of time. Easily then, a new day can easily become like yesterday.

God has given us the gift of the FUTURE. This is what gives us hope. As Paul says what good is there to hope for something that we have already received? We hope because we are looking forward to receive. It is this sense of hope that makes us see the other possibilities in life. When we do this then we live with a sense of embracing these ossibilites such that our lives are no longer defined by the past, but by what we hope for such that today becomes different from yesterday and tomorrow becomes a better day. For the hardships of yesterday are nothing compared to the glory yet to be revealed.

If you plot this on a triangle with the PAST to your left bottom corner, PRESENT on the top corner and FUTURE on the right bottom corner:

  1. As you follow the lines from the past to the present ad the future you are not going backwards.
  2. Moving from the past into the present is an incline. It is not always easy.
  3. There are three signs in Mathematics to compare units. ‘Equal to’ ‘Smaller than’ and ‘Greater than’. Looking at your triangle the Present and the Future are on the greater than side of things. Our past limits life, whereas the present and the future expand life. Thanks be to God for the possibilities that expand our view of life. What are the things that can expand your life? You may want to write these down next to your troubles. These are greater than than the trouble. If you embrace them your troubles will diminish and the past will be smaller than that the future. And this is what God wills for you. For God cares and understands your sorrows. God responds by making us feel once again. God wants us to see the possibilities. Then we will know how blessed we are in our troubles.

Sva Waqu

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