Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In God We Trust? (Part 2)

In earlier posts I presented the sermon I gave on the Sunday after 9/11/01. On 9/11/11, the tenth anniversary of the terrible events of 9/11/01, I gave a sermon that I’d like to share with you. This is part 2 of that sermon. I hope this sermon helps you in some way:

IV. Trust in God

With this bad news and fear about the future, what are we Christians to do? Do we just resign ourselves to the possibility of a bleak future, or spend most of our time worrying, or lash out in anger?

1. Lamentations

Let’s look to the Book of Lamentations for some answers. In chapter three, Jeremiah admitted his profound sorrow. “I remember my affliction and my wandering… and my soul is downcast within me.”

Yet even in the depths of his despair, as his people were being carted away into Babylonian captivity, he could proclaim the faithfulness of God:

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:19-26, NIV)

So the first thing we must do, difficult as it may sometimes be, is to look to the Lord for help and place our trust in him. Of course we know from experience that God may not change our situation, much as we’d like him to. God didn’t restore Jerusalem for nearly a century, but God did help Jeremiah to get through the sorrow and heartbreak, and he will for you and me as well. So God is faithful to help you deal with your situation, to accept it, and God will give his peace, as we read in Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. NRSV
We sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” but do we really believe it?

2. Examples of God’s Work

This trusting God sounds good, but can we really have hope in our lives? Let me give you a few examples of God’s work in the world:

a. Marriage Example

At a party recently we met a couple we didn’t know but we had been praying for their marriage. They are doing very well and their marriage is back on track.

b. Illness Example

At another party recently we met a man we didn’t know but we had been praying for his health. He is now doing fine and is healthy enough to go back to work.

c. Job Example

For over a year we’ve been praying for somebody who needed a better job, and recently got one – in this economy, no less! We’ve also been praying for the financial situation of a family, and he is scheduled to get a raise, something rare in this economy.

d. My Example (Jer 29:11)

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told the Israelites in Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. NIV

I believe we can claim that verse for ourselves as well, and I did that back in the 1980s when I was about to lose my job. The economy wasn’t as bad as it is now, but people weren’t hiring. I sent out a lot of resumes and got very few responses – I was getting desperate. Through my wife Sue and other people, I came to realize God had a plan for my life, so I prayed to God to reveal it and to get me a job as well.

God did come through with a job, on the day I got the pink slip, and he has been revealing his plan to me ever since, bit by bit. I might add that God’s plan contained a few surprises, like becoming a pastor. I know it was in God’s plan to have me appointed here as well, and for that, I’m grateful and pleased to be your pastor.

More in a future post.

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