Summary: 5 anchors for the suffering to keep them firm and grounded (Adapted from John Mark Hick's book, Yet Will I Trust Him) * This is a 2 part sermon so it has 2 introductions (HoHums)
We all want to be good comforters- “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, NIV.
We do not want to be miserable comforters like Job’s friends
Job’s friends started out so well- “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No-one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13
Remember this when being there for the suffering- be quiet and listen to them- when Job’s friends opened their mouths that is when they became miserable comforters
As my role as hospice chaplain I am always on the lookout for good resources, books and articles, that help the suffering. Two books tonight:
Larry Barber (wife and young daughter were killed in an automobile accident) has devoted his life to helping the suffering, the grieving. He has a web site griefministerdotcom and he will send out articles through e-mail from time to time. Written a book called Love Never Dies in 2011. Mr. Barber recommended this 2nd book
John Mark Hicks (first wife died not long after married)- Mr. Hicks with his second wife had a child with a debilitating disease and that child died in 2001; Dr. Hicks is a professor of theology at Libscomb University; he wrote a book in 1999 about suffering called Yet Will I Trust Him; both of these are from accapella fellowship
Taken this material from Yet Will I Trust Him- What do suffers need to remember?
The role of the comforter is to be present as the instrument of God’s presence among those who weep. The comforter is not there to explain, theologize about the meaning of suffering or to render a judgment about why something happened. Job’s friends made that mistake. The comforter sits beside the sufferer and shares the suffering. The comforter is there to sit with the mourner, to share the lament, the protest and the questions. Comforters know how to share suffering, to weep with those who weep and to sit silently with the weeping sufferer.
However, when the sufferer speaks and seeks personal engagement with another, the comforter first listens and then speaks. But what should we say to someone suffering, “I am sorry for your loss, “or, “I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you; I am so sorry,” or, “I am praying for you and I want you to know that I love you” or, “I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you.” These are great in brief moments but what about those times when we are sitting with the suffering and they want some genuine dialog. In those moments, comforters need to remind sufferers gently of things that become blurry in midst of grief. Comforter can remind the sufferer about what is easily forgotten because suffering is so painful. I believe those reminders must be focused on who God is, how God feels about tragedy and what God will one day do about it.
John Mark Hicks says that he reminds himself and others of 5 anchors that keeps him grounded
Thesis: 5 anchors for the suffering (2 tonight and 3 next week)
1. The Unrelenting Love of God
Creation was God’s first act of unrelenting love. God created out of his overflowing love to include others in his loving communion. He created so he could share what he already possessed. The Father, Son and Spirit in their eternal nature communed with each other, and they intended to share it with others through creating a people in their image. God initiated creation for the sake of others so that they too might experience the wonder of blissful communion. The love of God is so great that he is willing to risk the bliss of his own communion so that others might participate in it.
Even though we wounded God’s love (through the fall), it could not be quenched. Even when Israel refused to know Him, God would not give up on his people. Even when Israel was an unfaithful wife and had sold herself into prostitution, God pursued her as a husband who yearns for reconciliation with his loved one (Hosea 1-3). Even when Israel committed adultery with Baal, God’s heart cried, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I had you over, Israel? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused” (Hosea 11:8). God’s love pursued Israel from the time he led them out of Egypt till the time he ransomed them from their exile. God’s love meant that he would not give up on his people.