Monday, January 14, 2008

If God Exists – Why Do I Hurt So Much?
No Video this week

If God Exists – Why Do I Hurt So Much?

Intro.: Let me give you a lesson in sermon preparation.

  1. I did not write today's sermon this morning.

  2. In fact, I did not even begin to write the sermon yesterday

  3. This morning's sermon got its start last November as I sat down one day and began to look at my preaching schedule.

  4. I have already told you that the Advent series that we just finished was chosen real late in the game. As my wife and I worked through the first few chapters of a Bible Study we were completing.

  5. But this weeks sermon had its beginning in the same time period – it was the middle of November and I sat and looked at the calendar for 2008. I would be returning from the Congress on Evangelism, and Lent would start on Ash Wednesday, February 6. That gave me four Sundays before starting my Lenten series.

  6. And it hit me that we have spent a lot of time looking at the easy parts of our faith, but that maybe we could spend some time looking at the hard parts. Over the next few weeks that is what I propose doing.

  7. I would like to also make these messages an opportunity for you to invite those that might be asking these same difficult questions of you or of God.


Trans: There is something else about today's sermons that make it unique.

  1. It is not too uncommon for someone from either this service or the other service to come up after and say, “Thank you pastor, that is just what I needed to hear.”

  2. It is good to know that God has used me to deliver a message that has directly touched someones life.

  3. But this weeks is different. You see, I don't know if what follows is for most of you, but I know that it does hit Sandra and I squarely in the eyes.

  4. And if it is so perfect for us, maybe, just maybe, it will apply to others as well. I hope so.

T.S. The title of today's sermon, “If God Exists, Why Do I Hurt So Much”, really consists of two important and very real questions.

  1. The first question is “If God exists – but does he?”

    1. I, like many of you, have sat through philosophy classes where professors demonstrated the most common proofs of God – and most professors would then show how those proofs may have their flaws.

(Ill.) For example, there is what is called the argument from Design. The argument goes something like this – if you found a clock that kept reasonably accurate time, you would wonder where it came from. And then when you took off the back cover, you would seem an amazing set of knobs, gears, and springs. Now you might not know how it worked, but you would be convinced that it could not be mere chance that produced that produced that clock. Similarly, as we look at our world – whether it be a glimpse of the universe or it be a look at the human body or it be a look at the smallest molecule and its atoms, how could we conclude that all these things occurred by chance. Surely enormously complex mechanism that defines our world must have have been designed by a being - and we will call that being God.1

    1. I recently was glancing through a book that include nearly 20 different ways to prove God – unfortunately, I did not buy the book and I do not remember the title.

    2. But there is a problem – God is not a proof.2

    3. God is not a logical argument or a syllogism that can be summed up in two or three quick sentences.

    4. My friends, God is a person – a living being capable of knowing things, desiring things, of creating things, and loving things. He is alive – this is how Anthony Destefano describes it in his book Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To.

    5. No where does scripture try to prove God's existance – it is just assumed that he is always present, all powerful, and all knowing. This is the God we serve and the God that wants to know us.

    6. And that is where it starts – with a relationship. Our question, “If God exists ...” only make sense if we have a relationship with the living, caring, loving God who created our universe. Because once we ask the question, we have already answered the question.

    7. Both the Old Testament and the gospel of John start out the same way, “In the beginning, God ...” So, if “in the beginning, God ...” --

  1. Why do I hurt so much?” - that is the second question.

    1. Somehow it is easy for us to come to the conclusion that since God does exist, then life should be a breeze: no problems, no headaches.

    2. Let me ask you a question, would you prefer to be a puppet whose every action is controlled – as if connected to a string – or live a life that you have control over, even if it sometimes involves making mistakes. I expect, given the choice you would prefer the freedom.

    3. Yet freedom entails mistakes. And mistakes inherently lead to discomfort and pain.

(Ill.) Let me give you some examples. If I am a carpenter and hit my finger with a hammer – it hurts. It is not punishment, it is not retribution, it is not revenge. It is the natural consequence of my not using the hammer correctly.

    1. I should not be surprised that there is pain in my world – after all, we are already broken people. People that have experienced God's wonderful, forgiving, supporting grace, but broken people none the less.

(Ill.) There was a conversation between the great artists Renoir and Matisse. At the time, Matisse was Renoir’s young student. Renoir suffered from terrible arthritis. It was very painful for him to paint. He had to hold his brush between his thumb and index finger. And as he painted, students often heard him crying out in pain. On one such occasion, Matisse asked the old master, “Why do you go on if it hurts so much?” And Renoir answered, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”3

    1. Pain – be it physical, emotional, or spiritual – is real. It may come from a variety of sources – but regardless of its source God will use it to shape up and form us into what he wants us to be.

    2. You are the piece of art being painted by God – you are a piece of clay being molded being shaped into what he wants. Romans 9:21 puts it this way, “...has the potter no right over His clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

Conclusion: Close your eyes for a minute.

  1. I don't know what pain you carry today – but God does

  2. Silence yourself for a minute – allow God to touch you where you hurt

  3. Breath out the pain, know that God is able to take it and lighten the load

  4. Breath in – allow the holy spirit to reach you where you are and feel God's power, available to you now and wherever you may be.

Listen to the words of Jesus:

             “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



2DeStefano, Anthony (2007). Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems. New York: Doubleday.

3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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