Summary: God is a God of Endurance and Encouragement! Scritpure is what He uses to encourage us and cause us to endure

Concordia Lutheran Church

The Second Week of Advent, December 6, 2009

Endurance and Encouragement

Romans 15:4-13


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

No news…is good news?

Maybe it is me, but that blessing seems a little challenged today. It is taken from the end of our epistle reading this day, the second Sunday in Advent.

Yet, as I look across the trauma of this week, my head wonders about how we can have peace, never mind joy. It seemed about every other phone call brought news of trauma, of more people dealing with devastating illness, or of people challenged by finances. Even as I struggled writing this introduction yesterday, news of a friend’s dad imminent death came through my email. Friday, another deacon and close friend I trained emailed me about biopsies of cysts in his bladder, kidneys and lungs, that were to be done this week. A deacon, and another pastor, of strong churches, told me of the financial struggles of their people, which both feared would soon see their churches close.

The pessimist in me wonders, will the people of God know peace only once God returns? Where do I find hope to share with you, that God reigns right now, right here, this morning in Cerritos?

For my heart cries that He does…even while my mind struggles with the question of, if He does, why are we dealing with the things we are?

Perhaps my friend Mike’s concert here provided some of the answer to that. If you weren’t here Thursday night, you missed something pretty incredible. Mike fell down a flight of stairs earlier that week, and bruised and separated the three bones in his tailbone. He was on his way to Australia from Tennessee for another tour, and did the concert in the midst of his pain, and sang of how God carries us all. So true in his ministry, where all four of his albums speak of such work of God.

God carries us.

He enables us to endure, even as He walks with us, His word and his presence encouraging us.

On this advent day, we find the same message in our reading from St Paul’s epistle…which we will see in a bit…

Our ways of dealing with trauma

Paul starts by talking in the passage, tat what has been written in scripture has been written that we could endure and be encouraged because we have been given hope.

Therein lies a small problem. If we have to endure, that means that something in our lives will require endurance. If we need encouragement, it means that we face something where that might be discouraging, and if we need the scriptures to show us the hope we have, that means our situation might just lack it.

In other words, we face life that challenges, life that we struggle with.

And so often we look at these struggles and ask the question, why?

Is it because we lack faith?

Is it because of some horrible sin, that goes unconfessed?

Is it because God doesn’t like us?

Is it because God took a vacation?

Perhaps it is because we live in a scientific age, or perhaps it is because of too many medical and crime scene investigation shows, that we think we have to find the source of our problem, in order to deal with it. The more we can’t isolate the cause, the more we feel helpless, the more we can’t control or think we are in control.

We want to fix it, and that desire is good. Yet, when that desire isn’t fulfilled, we have to find out who or what to blame – what is the cause of the turmoil we are in.

That desire to find the blame, the source of the problem, often results in more turmoil, as we want to find it, as long as it isn’t us that is the cause or source.

A description of blessing in trauma

Anyone here besides me like the television show “HOUSE”? Interesting character, who often goes outside normal thought processes in curing people other doctors cannot diagnose. Often times, the process is odd, because given the fact you can’t find the cause, you still have to treat the person.

Paul’s words seem to be a little like that. Noting that we need the endurance and encouragement found in scripture in order to have hope, noting that God is the God of both endurance, he doesn’t bless them at first with the gift of Joy and Peace.

Look at verse 5, and find in it, what Paul notes God would grant us…

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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