And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Good morning everybody. Great to be here with you this morning. We are on week two of a series on suffering. I’m calling the series Even Here and just want to take a moment to to review what we talked about last week and we’ll jump into what we’re talking about this week.
If you have your handout right here, I put extra words on there to make it harder for you to see. All you baby boomers, just go ahead. I love this thing you do. You know, I like, it’s like trying to get it into the right focus, so let us know when you got the right distance. Here what we talked about last week.
The first is, God is intimately aware of our suffering and still allows it to happen. Second, the suffering that God allows to happen is often agonizing. Third, there are endless types and levels to suffering. Fourth, there is rarely a timetable given to the sufferer. Fifth, suffering feels barely spiritual.
And then on the purpose of Christian suffering, sixth, the purpose of all Christian suffering is union. If you were not here last week and wonder why the people that were here last week ever came back, I’m sort of with you on that question. we want what is most true. Suffering, unfortunately, is true.
Something that truly happens. I’m thankful to be a part of a community that acknowledges the existence of suffering and wants to understand Christ in the midst of it. Today we’re going to be talking about the stewardship of Christian suffering, wanting to, last week talk about just what is the weight of it, what does it mean, and then also why do we undergo suffering in our lives, and then last, and then here we go through the treasures of Christian suffering.
So the weight of Christian suffering last week, the purpose of Christian suffering. And today we’re talking about the stewardship of Christian suffering. Next week we’ll get to the treasures of Christian suffering. That sounds better, right? And then by God’s grace and mercy, the end of Christian suffering.
But today we sit in the stewardship of Christian suffering. anxiety and depression, as I’ve talked to you about, and I’ve told you about some of my own story, they run deep in the veins of, my, the extended family on my mom’s side. My grandpop, who was an instrumental person in my life, was the chairperson of the science department at Taylor University, and went through Decades of a long fight with, severe anxiety himself.
And when I was going through, as I talked about some last week, some of the throes of the darkest parts of my story, I went and visited he and my grandmom. Up in Northern Michigan, and I went to go see my grandpop’s therapist, my grandpop’s psychiatrist. He’s a person who’s been working with our family for a little while.
I had never met him, but he had met many people who shared my bloodline and genetics. When I talked to this guy, it did not take me long to have him feel pretty confident in what I was going through. And as I spoke with you last week, I’ve suffered for most of my life with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Didn’t really know what that meant at that time, but he, was a pretty textbook case when I came in and he basically said, Ben, this is what you have. This is what you’re dealing with. And I can still remember just sitting there looking at him, just kind of like, Are there other options that we could have here?
There’s a, a show, Parks and Recreation. Anyone ever see Parks and Recreation? There’s this scene in Parks and Recreation where Leslie and Ben, who are the two of the main characters, are finding, they found out they’re pregnant, so they go get the ultrasound. And the, the guy, the, who’s the Happy Days Fonzie, Fozzie, whatever his name is?
That guy? He’s, that actor? I know some of you are like, Oh, he was so handsome, but that just shows you’re like 90. Okay. So this, so he’s, the doctor, that fozzy guy, whatever doctor is with them doing the ultra ultrasound. And he’s going through and he’s like, Oh, there’s the baby keeps going, goes, there’s another baby.
And then there’s a third baby. Then he goes, Oh, and there’s a fourth. He says, Oh, no, wait. That was a cream cheese smudge on the screen. Just three. That’s how I felt very much when I got my diagnosis for the first time. I was really hoping for a cream cheese smudge on the screen, wondering if it could be anything else.
I at that point had become used to using the term depression or anxiety with my friends. Did not enjoy using it. did not enjoy experiencing it, but a diagnosis sounded much more like a life sentence to me. In that moment, I looked across at this psychiatrist who I don’t even remember his name, and he knew that my faith was important to me.
I have no idea if this person is a Christian or just a good psychiatrist. But he looked at me and as I was saying like well, maybe it could be this this that he goes back And he just says Ben This is the cross that Jesus is asking you to carry It is your choice to carry it or not But as loud I can hear it now as I could that day.
He said but this is your cross That statement Literally set up the rest of my Christian formation of understanding suffering. But that cross as well as other crosses that I carry is not something to just be endured. It is not something to just be escaped. It is something to be stewarded. You see, suffering does not bring about growth.
on its own. Suffering is not special, noble, or interesting, and it does not produce growth by itself. Because suffering does not bring growth on its own, we must ask, how do I steward my suffering? One of the most important questions we will, we will deal with in our lives is how do we use our gifting? How do we use our resources?
Such incredible questions. But there’s another question, of how will we use our suffering? In Luke 9, Jesus says words that go down in the category of things that we sometimes wish He didn’t say. But He says this to His disciples, The Son of Man must suffer many things. He said He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, scribes, and He must be killed on the third day and be raised to life.
Then Jesus said to all of them, If anyone wants to come after Me, He must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Pray with me this morning.
Father, thank you for the stories in this room. It’s not lost on us that while we sit together for these minutes. These minutes are not the whole of our life. We’re coming from different places, and there’s some dark places we’re coming from today. I ask you, Lord, please, for those who are specifically looking for help in the storm, I pray you’ll speak to them this morning.
If my words be an agitation, To anyone suffering, please remove those words from the ears of those who listen. We ask you teach us, help us, in a place we don’t want to learn. In Jesus name, amen. The goal today, the goal last week was to describe the weight and what suffering is, talk about the purpose a little bit.
The goal today is to be very practical. And so, So, if you got your notes as you came in, this sheet of paper, I’m gonna, I’m gonna walk down through you with your, I’d encourage you to have a pen if you don’t have the sheet of paper and want to grab it, that’s great too, you can do that. If you want to just take a note on your phone, but I would ask if you’d be willing, to write some things down.
You don’t have to fill in all the blanks or write it down, any of my words, but I have some. questions to ask you because when we are talking about suffering, Christian suffering is not just for those poor people who suffer, it is for the Christian who Jesus said will suffer. so a few things to help us as how do we carry, how do we walk this road of suffering and steward it according to the way our Christ designed it.
First, our, our, our seventh, because I want to do all these in number, seventh, our cross of suffering is unique and assigned and must be identified. Look 23 in Luke 9. He says, not take up a cross. Not even take up the cross. But if someone would come and follow me, must take up his. It’s a possessive pronoun.
His unique cross. Our cross of suffering for each of us is unique. The cross of suffering for us is in a mysterious and painful way designed by our King to bring about something good. And because it is unique, and we can’t just say we all carry the same cross, and because it is assigned specifically to us, We must then have the skills and the relationship with God such and relationship with others such that we can understand and identify what is my cross.
And if you follow God, you don’t have just one, right? This is the nature of this Aspergian speaks of this in the morning and evening that we are given these crosses that ultimately will do something good, but we must identify what they are. The first step to how we steward our cross of suffering is to identify it.
One of the greatest allegorical works ever penned is, Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hernard. A missionary who is both to Palestine and Israel for over 50 years. And this allegory is a beautiful and a tough read. The main character is called Much Afraid, and it’s the story of how much afraid goes from the valley of fear to the kingdom of God.
of love. And, and the chief shepherd, who’s, who’s Jesus in the story, comes to much afraid right about when she’s about to start her journey. She’s decided to start her journey up to the mountain, up to go from the valley of fear to the kingdom of love. And, and the chief shepherd comes to her and says this, he’s going to give her companions.
And she is gleeful at the thought of not traveling alone. The chief shepherd presents her companions and says this. They’re good teachers. Indeed. I have few better. This said he motioning to the first of the silent figures is sorrow and the other is her sister suffering. These are tough words from Jesus.
This is before the disciples knew that Jesus would hang on a cross, but whether is before or after the cross. The cross meant the same thing to those people. The cross wasn’t just a symbol of good things. The cross was a, was two sticks put together constructed for intentional painful death. Jesus turned to his disciples and said, If you follow me, you must take up your electric chair.
Your electric, your, your, your, your very agency of death. And follow me. How do we identify a cross of suffering? Just again, trying to be p practical here. a cross of suffering is not sin or needless suffering. we don’t say, Hey, you know what? I just keep screaming at my wife and I feel guilty about that, and that’s my cross.
Right. A cross could be you have such a smoldering inside of you and you don’t know what to do with this sense of this temptation to lash out in anger. But sin is not a cross. Sin can be handled and dealt with and often can be overcome quicker than your cross is actually. There’s also needless suffering, for me when I talk about my OCD, if I am not willing to submit myself to, to different therapists and a psychiatrist, psychologist, as I’ve had to do in my life and not, and learn about what I struggle with, it’s needless suffering.
That’s part of my stewardship is to say, okay, what, what out of this do I, is, is part of the experience that I am going to have and what out of this. Can I work through and not have needless suffering? Second, a cross of suffering comes in different sizes. Jesse Hacken and I were talking at soccer yesterday, and he’s like, I know, it’s not about suffering Olympics.
And I’m like, that is a good phrase. When we’re talking about suffering, it’s not the suffering Olympics. It’s not, well, how big is this, or how does it compare to that? The reality is, is each one of us has, and we mentioned last, last week or two weeks ago if you’re in Collingswood this morning, the the cross of suffering, the, the lies that we are told to by hell about suffering are two lies that come so often.
One, our suffering is too big for God to handle, or two, it is too small for Him to be trifled with. A cross comes in different sizes, and third, as we try to identify our individual cross of suffering, a cross is something that causes death. This is the only way to understand what a cross meant in ancient Near Eastern culture.
Suffering causes death. Death to a dream, death to fulfilling a temptation that we want. Death to a way of life that we thought that life should be or would be, death to reputation, death to how you thought your marriage, family, or church should behave towards you, death to ability to function in the way we thought we should be able to.
Suffering is an intended, difficult design for death in our life. And here’s what I want you to do to write down. Simply, under point seven. Just the word, what, what is your cross of suffering? So that when we are talking about suffering, we’re not just talking about Ben’s issues. That’s kind of what I’m a little afraid of, right?
We’re talking about something that we carry each one of us. For some of you, that comes real easy and it is singular. It is, this is my cross. For some of you, it’s like, well, I don’t, I guess maybe this, I guess maybe that. Pick a cross, something that you can tell is doing death to some part of, of you.
Something you can identify. It does not need to be a certain size. But as we are talking about how do we carry our cross, it needs to be identified. This happened to me yesterday. I was talking through with my wife, we were sitting by the fire and I was going through something that had nothing related to like some of the bigger things I’m talking about in suffering.
It was just something I was processing through and I felt dumb about and, and like felt insecure and was worried how people would view me and I just was like, it just came to me like, dude, what, you know what to do with this. Identify it. Recognize what this is. Take it to your Christ and, and walk through this in the way you’re meant to.
Number eight. It will get better after eight, I promise. Our cross of suffering must be experienced.
Jesus says in verse 23, don’t observe your cross. Don’t just recognize that it’s there. Don’t just stop at identifying it. But pick it up every day and carry it. We’re in a part of the world that, we don’t want to do this. It’s a quote by Henry Nouwen. How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich?
Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves, what is my poverty? Is it a lack of money? Lack of emotional stability? Lack of a loving partner? Lack of security? Lack of safety? Lack of self confidence? Each human being has a place of suffering. That’s the place where God wants to dwell. How blessed are the poor Jesus says this means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity To discover God who dwells in it Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden I understand Deeply, the desire to, to be positive and like, to be like, it’s going to be okay.
I understand and still to this day speak in terms of, whoa, this is really hard, but then want to hook really right onto it, but, but this, this is why it’s good. And I need to get to this is why it’s good. Why? Because it gets me out of why it’s so hard. But we can try to at times be so upbeat about our pain, so positive about, about no, it’ll be okay.
Try to hold our breath for so long and to act like things are okay, even to ourselves. This positivity culture though can truly be dismissive and tell people to miss the chance to experience God who dwells not after the pain. But in the pain, we paint silver linings on storm clouds and call it brave. It is not brave.
Entering the storm is brave.
God called me to do a lament during a really difficult season of ministry a while ago. It was horrible. Oh my goodness And I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to write a lament a lament is basically a cry out to God About what is going on and without latching on the bottom of it, and this is why it’s good Laments are found all throughout the Psalms much if not most of David’s Psalms include lament And I remember writing down, just going through this lament and wanting to find, well, but this is why it’s good.
This is why it’s good. And just going through the discipline of just saying, God, this is not what I thought would happen. And here’s what happened. God, this hurts more than I thought it would. And here’s why it hurts. The strain of people in relationships, they feel like it’s tearing me apart. Here’s exactly how it feels.
And God, I can’t fix this. And you don’t seem to be fixing it either. Lament over. God does not need us to button up or tie up or fix what is in the process of pain. My fear for us and my fear for particularly like our place in time, culturally speaking. I know that a lot of us, we can, we, we can probably wallow in pain, but actually think more culturally, like where we are at our place and time in the world, that we’re more quick to dismiss it and miss God who lives within it.
Here’s what I want you to write down on our suffering must be experienced. Just the word when. It should have written down what, the cross you carry, and then this one is under when. And I want you to write down, if you would, a time within the next seven days when you can do a lament. Say, you know what, Tuesday morning I’ve got a little while, or Thursday night, or whenever you think that you have some space to not just recognize your cross, but to feel the weight of it.
During a lament, we don’t need to write about what feels spiritual, we simply ask where does it hurt, where am I afraid, and what pain makes no sense to me.
Points one through eight are thick. I’m thankful to be done them. And thank you for your presence in them. we talked about in point six that our cross of suffering directs us to union. Here is a way that we really can experience that with God. How we experience union with God with suffering, I want to go to John 17.
John 17, I believe is the, is the most important, chapter in the Bible. Actually, Pastor Mark and I go back and forth on this. I’ve told you before that Pastor Mark and I, we agree on most things, and occasionally he is wrong, and he believes that, that Romans 8, and I believe John 17, even though they both are really, really good, are the greatest chapters in all of scripture.
The reason I love John 17, since he’s not here to defend Romans 8, is because John 17 gives the why. the why of the whole gospel. It’s Jesus going before he receives the cross. He goes and he prays to the Father and he prays and and he says, Declaring that that what the true gospel is what eternal life is This is eternal life.
He says that they may know you the one true God in Jesus Christ whom you have sent He concludes the prayer by saying righteous father though. The world does not know you I know you And they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known. In order that the love you have for me may be in them, and I myself may be in them.
It is this story, this dance of union, the very purpose for which Christ came. And when we talk about suffering and union, suffering is not unique. any season in the Christian life, seasons of blessing and flourishing and suffering are all intended for the same purpose. To bring us into deeper union, how, what’s a way that suffering does that?
One of the beautiful ways we’re directed in scripture is to understand our story and connect with Christ’s story on life on earth. What do I mean by that? Those of you who are, Are in physical pain and I do with physical pain you have this precious painful Example of Christ experiencing pain on the cross and there is there’s a way that you can in ways that other of us can’t identify with what it took and what it was like to experience pain on the cross Those of you who have estranged parents or, or siblings or, or children, you can identify with Jesus as, as he, with tears coming down his eyes right into, everyone’s praising him right into Jerusalem.
He’s got tears in his eyes, turns around and he says, Oh, Jerusalem and Jerusalem, how I long to gather you. As a hen gathers her chicks in that moment, those of you who have painful, estranged relationships that you long to be reunited. You can connect with Christ and say, Jesus, I know what that feels like.
And you know what I feel like. Those dealing with loneliness. I was reading a passage not that long ago, my wife and I were reading, and Jesus in Gospel Matthew over and over tells His disciples, I’m going to die on the third day, rise again. Over and over. And like one of the last times, He spells out like everything that’s going to happen about how I’m going to be crucified.
And all of a sudden, they just kind of ignore Him in the text and start fighting over who’s the best among them. How lonely is that? For Jesus among His best friends to say, guys, this is going to happen to me. This is going to happen to me, it’s just days away, just to be ignored or neglected. Those of you who know relational pain, know what it’s like to feel as Christ felt being betrayed by Peter, or being praised by many of the same people that crucified Christ.
How can the exact suffering that you’re experiencing, the exact thing that you wrote under point number seven, how can that connect you with Christ? And this is why I ask you to write just the word where, colon. Where in scripture do you see that Christ experienced a similar type of pain as you are? And I would say, that passage, that story, you have the ability to know Christ in that story in a way that people who have a different cross can’t.
But, but to, to understand, to read that story, re read that story, go into it, go into like what it must have felt like because you’ve identified somewhere. And as you, as you are experiencing what Christ experienced and realizing, Oh my goodness, He gets what I experiencing, there, there’s a, there’s a knitting of soul that’s done in the classroom of sorrow that is, it’s other, it’s union.
That’s why I’d ask you to write down where, specifically where in scripture do you see Christ carrying the same type of cross you are carrying. And I know I’m being probably over practical, but suffering can get so fuzzy, wanting to be as specific as possible. Number ten, there’s not many things that I believe about suffering more than this.
Our cross of suffering provides an opportunity to unite or separate us from each other. Every single person who suffers knows that it’s not smart to isolate when you’re suffering. There’s no one in here that needs to be talked into the fact that it’s not the best idea to isolate. But the thing is, it’s attractive.
Because it’s really hard to be misunderstood. It’s really hard to, to, when you tell somebody of what you’re going through, and they make light of it, or they act like it’s not that big of a deal. And anyone who has suffered, and who has shared with another person, has probably experienced that in your life.
There’s not much worse than feeling awful and having someone say, you probably shouldn’t feel that bad. It’s really hard to trust after that. In the passage of John 17, and we’re talking about Christian union, Christian union does not stop with the individual and their God. Jesus says that the oneness experienced by the Father and the Son, that that kind of oneness would be experienced amongst His disciples.
That the same oneness that exists in the Godhead. Is what should exist in relationships with other people. And, and our suffering has to be with the right people. I, I remember as, as, At, my seminary, I was doing my master’s, and we had to do this assignment where you, you write out some of your story, and like, go through some of your story, and, and you write it out, and you get, got in groups of four people.
I share this, I know I shared it with you guys in Collingswood, but I, I got in a group of like four people, and, I, they read their story, and, and then all of a sudden, like, I was reading my story, and, and I had, in my group of people, the four people, I had two, what I would call, bless your heart guys, Just like, wow, Ben, that sounds tough and weird, what you went through, kind of thing.
Like, trying to lean in and nod and still be like, what are you talking about? And then I had a sleeper in a group of four. I started reading my testimony, telling my story, diving into the throes of my mental health. Tears are coming down my face as we sit in this sterile classroom, and I read, page by page, my story.
I look up. The man in front of me is dead, knocked out of sleep. And I wanted to make sure he never woke up. Not a good feeling. We have to find the right people to carry suffering with. And here’s the deal. I know there are people in here that have done, I remember hearing someone say, like, We were asked by someone, like a, a question.
They said, I just can’t go there. I just can’t go there. I can’t, I can’t go there with other people. I can’t even go there with myself. To which I would say if you don’t, Christ will never get in there. A lot of the ways that Christ will get in is through his people and, and there is not a one of you that’s gone through suffering and shared, and that hasn’t been hurt.
But guess what? It did not change your very construction as a human. You were designed by God to be in community with one another. If you have been hurt, if you have been hurt 10 times, I don’t know anything kinder to say, try 11. And you might have to get to 16 or 19 too, but it is the way you have been made.
You are not made to suffer alone. for the care ministries here at fellowship. The Lord gave me a vision of what the care ministries would be, and it was simply this. Our care ministries exist so that no one would suffer alone. We are not here to end suffering. It is not going to happen. It’s not even something God designs to happen here on this place.
But we are here by God’s grace so that we may not suffer alone. I’m going to have you put down the word who. On your sheet of paper or in your phone
And for some of you that’s a painful word to write because you’re not sure what to write after I Want to just mention three things here if they can be a service to you at all in your story first Stephen ministry Is a one on one care ministry. It’s some of the most incredible people. I know because they are people who are trained to and desire to run towards needs.
And this is a one on one ministry. If you are interested in getting a Stephen Minister, a person to meet with you, once a week for an hour, it’s a person just come alongside. It’s not a therapist. It’s someone just to be there with you who has gone through suffering themselves and has by God’s grace made room for yours to in their life.
You can find out more information at the hub about that or online. Secondly, when I mention Celebrate Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, what we always say is for hurts, habits, and hang ups, so many people who come to Celebrate Recovery come for hurts. And I know that, there’s an idea out there, it’s like, Celebrate Recovery, isn’t that about alcohol?
Well, sure. That’s there. But so much of what Celebrate Recovery also is, is dealing with hurts. Our, our biggest groups in Celebrate Recovery we call life issues. And they’re dealing with people with, mental health. Dealing with people with, difficulty and going on in marriages. And issues in their life.
And that can be a place of, joined cross bearing. If that might be a place that serves you. Lastly, is anchored in hope. It’s a women’s group that meets for those physically suffering and some other ways of suffering. Holly McIntyre. Again, more information you can find out about it. And those might not make your who list.
But I really hope someone does. Because you’re not made to be an island. And some of you are just sitting there saying, you know what? I’m tough enough, and I would say if you believe you’re tough enough to not be in community,
you’re being a coward. True strength is reflected in Paul’s prayer, I therefore as a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been called with all humility and gentleness with patience bearing. with one another. That bearing sounds a whole lot like cross carrying, doesn’t it?
Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. One of the most amazing things about the journey of Christ, when He bore a cross, when He carried a cross, He Himself needed help. He did not carry it alone. Of course. The story could have been written that he carried the cross up to Golgotha.
But the story was intended to show that crosses were made to be carried together.
Number 11 and lastly,
our cross of suffering can only be carried one day at a time. For a lot of us that can feel like one moment at a time. Cause a day is too big of a timestamp to worry about. One of the chief things of, of, of being able to walk through daily suffering is to not carry tomorrow’s cross. Tomorrow’s cross is unnecessary suffering.
And honestly, tomorrow’s cross is too heavy. It’s too much. All we can do is get through today. Only today’s crosses are allowed. What did Jesus say in the passage? Take up your cross daily and come after me. There are days that are not made for strategy or deep process. There are days when the greatest thing you can do is simply keep going.
Simply make your next meeting, eat your next meal, parent the next need of your child, return in the next assignment. There are days that cannot contain the weight of all the processing of your feelings and thoughts about those, what you’re going through. Those days we need to simply take just the next step.
We know life is beautiful and it’s a gift, but it does not always feel that way. And sometimes the way we interpret what we’re going through can be extremely dark. And all that we can do is just keep going. There are times that God seems to be absent, lost in the gray of pain and confusion. Your prayers barely make it out of your mouth and you feel like you don’t even make it to the top of your bedroom ceiling.
On those days, all we can do is just today keep going. There are days when you wonder if you’re making up the fact that God could use this type of suffering. You don’t need to prove to yourself that he will, or convince all of your emotions that he’s coming soon to make sense of it all. All you can do is for this day, keep going.
And for those here, or for those who are loving someone close to them that are in the deepest throes of suffering, honestly the best thing a suffering series can do is maybe just let you know you’re not alone. But if you’re in the agony of the worst part of suffering, you’re not here to write down all the points and get all the finer details.
I just, we just want to tell you, we love you. We, we, we don’t understand what you’re going through. But we will not run from you.
I’m going to conclude by, anybody ever heard of Warren Wiersbe? He’s one of those guys that I’ve heard about for a long time, and then one day realized, Wiersbe is a weird last name. Warren Wiersbe was a pastor and an author, and he wrote a book, called Why Us? Why Do Bad Things Happen to God’s People?
I think it’s the title, and he reflected a story of, coming up to a lady, I think it was after a church service, and this lady’s, her husband had gone blind recently, and she had, and then he came down with a really difficult disease, and so she had basically become like a seeing eye wife, needing, she needed to leave her job, they did not have any children, and it was an incredibly difficult circumstance, and he walked up to this woman, and he just said, I just want you to know, I’m praying for you.
And I love this lady, spicy lady, and she comes up and she says, she says, what are you praying for? And like, Warren Rearsby got all his pastoral back on and said like, well, I’m praying God help me. You know, all that stuff, right? That you hear when pastors talk. and, she said, waved him off, said, this is what I want you to pray.
Pray that I won’t waste this time of suffering.
It sounds terrible to be up here and telling you all to do any work at all while you’re suffering unless there’s real treasure to be found in it. And I know sometimes when we think of like Surrendering ourselves to God. We usually mean that in terms of sin because we often have a lot of it. I want to surrender our sin And sometimes it’s surrendering our will both of those deeply biblical and meaningful But there’s also a sense of sometimes we need to surrender our suffering Say god i’ve spent all my energy trying to escape this I am dog tired of trying to endure it Teach me a new and living way.
The messy process of stewarding it, which takes identifying what am I carrying? What is left? What is not been worked through? To experience it, to join with God and Christ specifically in his story with it, to join with other people and to simply do it one step at a time. I’m going to close by praying what we pray, every week in Celebrate Recovery.
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship. as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting you will make all things right.
If I surrender to your will, then I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.