Summary: How do we handle the fact that God is in control and God is good when things seem to fall apart?
Finding God’s Hand…in our Pain & Tragedy
Have you ever had a time in your life when what you were going through felt so painful, so hard that you didn’t know when it was going to end? But not only that, you couldn’t figure out where God was?
Maybe you were hurt by a parent. Maybe a child said something to you that still stings after many years. Maybe, you are still feeling the scars of your parents divorce, or your own. Maybe right now you are in the midst of some financial strains and you don’t know which end is up and whether or not you will get out. What about a physical problem that will not go away, you hoped it would, but it is here to stay. Maybe right now, you are having trouble at work, things are stressful and you are worried about keeping your job. And to top that off, because of that, it is now even more stressful at home.
That is the world that many of us inhabit today, or a world that we have passed through recently. If you aren’t there today, it is not a question of if, but when. Maybe you are thinking, glad we came to church today, now I feel worse than when I came in.
So often though, what happens is we have those feelings and what do we do with them? Where do we go with them? We share them with friends and family, we open up ourselves, but that doesn’t always seem to help. At the end of sharing what is going on in our life, we still have this nagging question. Where is God? Where is he when all of life feels like it is crashing around me? Is he there? Is he in the shadows, does he know what is going on? Is he up in heaven taking a nap as I go through this pain?
Can I tell you something, something you won’t often hear in church, which is sad. These questions are not only real, they are okay. I have often watch sadly as friends have gone through hard times and the churches they attended almost shunned them for asking the where is God question. I read once, that if we took out the parts of the bible that asked the where is God question, the bible would be a third smaller than what it is. So obviously, throughout history people have looked up at the heavens and said are you there? Do you see what is going on?
For many Christians though, we have bought into the idea that when we became Christians, life would be easy. There are many pastors who preach this, I won’t name any because I am going to make fun of them. But they present this idea “that God doesn’t want you to suffer. God doesn’t want you to go through hard times. He want to bless you, he wants to shower you with good feelings, and warm fuzzy’s.” That is my TV preacher impersonation. But is that reality? Not only that, is that really what God wants?
If you have your bibles, you can open them to the book of Ruth. We are starting a 3 week series today and for the next 3 weeks, we are going to be walking through the book of Ruth.
The book of Ruth is a beautiful love story. It is one of only two books of the Bible named after a woman, and the only book in the Old Testament named for someone who is not racially Jewish.
This is what it says starting in verse 1: 1In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
This is important because it gives us the context of the story. All great stories have context. The story takes place roughly around 1000BC. The days of the judges, you can flip back sometime and read through the book of Judges is one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. Judges 21:25 sums up that time: In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This will be important as we move on. Because it says in verse 1 that there was a famine in the land. So it begs the question, was the famine punishment? Was that God’s way of judging the nation of Israel? Almost everytime that famine is mentioned in the scriptures it is related to God’s judgment against his people. Because if they refuse to obey him, then he will refuse to feed them.
Elimelech though, instead of looking at the possible sin in his life, instead looks at the economic problems and decides they will move. So often that is what we do, instead of dealing with things we need to deal with, we look around for the door.