In our first study, we’ll touch painful things, lots of pain—and anger—along with frustrations, confusions, and despair. Because of our sinful genetic, we cannot blackball these things while heading toward The Promised Land. Isn’t it true, if there is something that is not going right with our trust to God in Christ Jesus, we may lose hope and be very upset. Being afflicted at this way, some Christians rise questions like: Why the Lord doesn’t answer my prayers?, How could He let this happen?, Why me?, Am I outside His love?, Does God really care of me?, Where was God at that time? The experts wrote books digging in search this query but I just the sermon preoccupied with some pliable stories.
This one dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It says that the Baptist layman from Low Hampton, New York, William Miller had won many followers proving that 2nd Coming of Christ would occur about year 1843. The Day of Christ seemed even more vividly in the light of the “signs of the times” such as a meteors shower in 1833, a storm in Madeira in 1842, earthquakes and a comet in 1843, the financial “Panic of 1837,” increasing lawlessness, violence, etc. Accordingly, some people have closed their shops; left their crops unharvested, given away all their money believing that soon they would not need any possession. A man from Philadelphia put out a such sign, This shop is closed in honor of the King of Kings, who will appear about the 22nd of October. Get ready, friends, to crown Him Lord of all. As the day of great anticipation passed by but Christ has not arrived, the enthusiasts were greatly disappointed; if not say that the public made fun. Oh, how depressive, sorrowful they were.
Many frustrations and painful trials are still ahead of us if we’ll walk after flesh despite the Spirit of truth. One such a model named Hiram Edson left a note flavored with a bitterly and sarcastic mood. “We wept, and wept, till the day dawn. . .. If this had proved a failure, what was the rest of my Christian experience worth? Has the Bible proved a failure? Is there no God – no heaven – no golden home city – no paradise? Is all this but a cunningly devised fable? Here we give other exclamations of grief mingled with discontent. It says that Elijah when in a panic he has run from the fury of the queen Jezebel and being completely drained of energy, exclaimed, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers,” (1Ki 19:4). Next example from the book of Job; thus the wife of Job after being extremely afflicted by the disaster ruined her household burst into tears. Job, she exclaimed, Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die, ( 2:9). But Job did not curse God; instead, he cursed the day he was born,(3:1).
The misfortunes and afflictions if they are not resolved through our praying and supplication may invoke the feeling that we have cut off from God’s care, just like another man of faith from a movie “The Mute Prayer.” If you can, imagine yourselves among the Christians who gather at the entrance of the church inside of the monastery wall. We are waiting for a hieromonk, let’s call him Gregory who has a mind of Christ. We believe that his prayers and supplications along with an advice shall help us in our spiritual struggling. After awhile we see Gregory dressed in a black vest at the moment when he was proceeding through the door. Immediately we rush to him with our problems on our lips. “Pastor, can I talk to you, please.” “I have trouble with my daughter, an alcoholic. She forces me out of my house,” Other said, “My daughter is praying for the healing of her child but the boy is getting worse.” And other said, “Pastor, I need your advice, My wife left me, …” All questions including ours were answered. Gregory has advised to pray daily; he mentioned an attendance at a church as very important as well doing charity work, the endurance of suffering, to be contented and thank God. However, after a certain time Gregory himself became a prey of a similar problem as he has noticed that regardless of his prayers and prayers of the church the lives of his parishioners were not changed for better but many who have been substantially guilty of their sin taken not it so much to heart. O Lord, why don’t you hear us ? prayed the monk. Has your great mercy turned away from us? O Lord, hear us, sinners who has trusted in you, so that we may live in peace and repentance. O Lord, has our prayers grown so vain that you no longer hear us? O God, show us your great mercy for you love mankind. O Lord, … O God, forgive my boldness and teach me how to care for needs of your people. Have mercy on me, your wretched bondservant; O Lord, O Lord!
Gregory has kept praying …. day after day. Once when he fell asleep praying at night, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. Gregory, don’t be afraid, your prayer was heard in the Heaven, and I was sent to open your mind why it is so. Then the angel had taken him up in the air where the monk heard the single sounds of a bell. What are the sounds, and what are they for? he asked the angel These sounds of the holy prayers, was an answer. Why are the sounds so weak and why they are so few for people are praying in the church now? I will show you and you will understand, reply the angel. After that the angel took Gregory down, exact to the midst of his fellow worshipers, but nobody could see him. Amazingly now Gregory could read the thoughts of the people in the church. Do you believe that our pastor also can read thoughts while preaching? Please don’t sweat, our secrets will not exposed, at least for now. But the thoughts of the people from the movie were exposed.
So, as Gregory had read all kind of thoughts he became greatly embarrassed, except with one girl; she prayed from all her heart believing in God’s mercy may shown to her dad. O Lord, please return my dad to me. O Lord, you are merciful. Please save, have mercy, and heal my dad. Dear and loving God, help him give up drinking. Help him, I beg you. Do you see, that girl, she is praying with faith and love, her grief mixes with hope? said the angel. When the priest had awaked from the dream he felt himself very shamefully; then he bowed his knees, and prayed, O Lord, forgive me a sinner! For I doubted Your great mercy I repent. O Lord, I repent, O Lord! I repent. O Lord. Have mercy on me, a sinner! O Lord!
Based on the Scripture such things as the angriness with God, complains and even doubts of his merciful and compassion heart we ascribe to rebellious against God that itself is a serious sin. In the ancient time, for example, there was a rule that a person who cursed God should die. In my pastoral practice, I’ve known a man who had cursed God because of hardship but later deeply repent and forgiven, I believe. Praise the Lord! From the Biblical account, when the risen Lord had appeared to Thomas, he fell to his knees that itself was a gesture of his repentance for the sin of his doubting. He couldn’t say anything except of “My Lord and my God!” The Lord has reproached Thomas but indirectly saying, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, (Joh 20:29). So, any doubt regarding God is the sin and it is our responsibility to eliminate it through repentance. Praise the Lord! Let the prayer of the monk Gregory be ours as well if our hearts condemn us for doubting, frustration, anger, and so forth. O Lord, forgive me a sinner! For I doubted Your great mercy. I repent. O Lord, I repent. O Lord! I repent. O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! O Lord!
I am sure there are people who think alternatively to the sound doctrine of mankind suffering. Nevertheless, the fact is that many Christians do not run for perfection; we think that the Heavenly Father is happy with us just because we believe in his beloved Son. We close ears to hear the voice of the Spirit who teaches us from inside how to please our Father and how to live victoriously by his grace. We hope for money and other valuable assets serving them like a master sacrificing love and mercy in favor of short-term projects. Some of us may abide in euphoria being deceived by the false teaches on TV, the Internet, just as the evangelicals who had followed William Miller, – the false teacher. That is why many of us are weak and ill, and some have died, says the apostle (1Co 11:30).
But does our God delight in the death of a sinner, or in the suffering of a flesh? According to our knowledge of His nature, he does not. But out of his fatherly love he has given his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should be saved, (3:16). The Father has put on His Son Jesus Christ the cross nobody can endure. Yet, Jesus has not complained, was anger with us, or he doubted the infinite lovingkindness of his Father. Regardless of these, he has taken our diseases upon his shoulders. The each single healing granted by Jesus cost him much so that we may love him above all. In our Gospel text (Mar 5:21-43), we read between the lines how much the woman adored Jesus when the chronic bleeding left her; by the same token, How much do you think the parents of the girl raised from the dead loved Jesus? Now ask yourselves, Would the recipients of God’s love be angry with Jesus or doubt him under any circumstances after all?
Our OT reading from (Lam 3) opens a page of the great suffering of the righteous Jeremiah who has suffered for the transgression of God’s people like a lawbreaker. The previous text of chapter 3 was only the transitory cry of despair, the cry of great discontent. But suddenly, in the twinge of an eye, the heart of the prophet was overflowed with God’s love as the Spirit had reminded him all goodness and kindness he ever experienced in the past. Here we again read between the lines. O Lord, forgive me a sinner! For I doubted Your great mercy, I repent. And now, after being renewed in hope and love to his God, the prophet joyfully witnessed, The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (Lam 3:22-25).
We are not immunized against anxiety, fear, discontent or doubts, however we have powerful remedy against such infections. This sermon may help see the forest for the trees. Imagine, how happy would it be if we have the same unwavering faith and hope as the prophets and the apostles who gave us the examples how to endure sufferings and afflictions. And again, how happy would it be if we would never doubt God’s lovingkindness toward us or being dissatisfied with what we have already had. The Scripture reminds us that God did not make death; neither does he delight when the living perish but stop to sin and repent.
O Lord, forgive me, whenever I have doubted your lovingkindness and give me a chance to love You above all things, now and for the ages to come.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all the faithful.