Summary: This sermon illustraites that God is Big Enough to handle all our pain; all our sorrow; all our brudens!
In the book The Shack, by William P. Young, (a book I highly recommend reading) (especially if you have ever been angry with God over a hurt, or loss) a conversation takes place between the central character of “Mack” and Jesus…
Jesus asks Mack “do you think humans are designed to live in the present. Or the past or the future?” (p. 141) Mack replies “I think the most obvious answer is that we were designed to live in the present!”… “But now tell me,” (Jesus continued) “where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination, in the present, in the past, or in the future?” “Mack thought a moment before answering, “I suppose I would have to say that I spend very little time in the present. For me, I spend a big piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out the future.”
Jesus then goes on to explain to Mack how he is in relationship with him. Though Mack may have memories of a past with Jesus, those are only memories. The real reality comes that Jesus is present in the present, and though Mack “imagines the future”, few of Mack’s imaginations, include Him. Jesus says “Mack, do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always depicted by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?” (p. 142) …“And Jesus was also correct in saying that in Mack’s imaginations of the future, God was always absent”.
But why is it, that when we find ourselves in a difficult time; a time of Grief; a time of sorrow, God’s people for some reason think that God is noticeably absent. The Psalmist (in Psalm 80) which seems to be a communal lamentation of the people cry out to a God who seems noticeably absent. Or at least noticeably silent. “How long will you be angry?” “How long will you refuse to hear our prayers?” “When will you restore us?”
The one thing that always comes to my mind about these grief filled cries to God, is that they are cries to God. They are reflections of a psalmist; or a people who have not lost faith and trust that god can shine His face on them. They cry out three times in today’s text: “Let your face shine, that we may be saved”.
“It is a confession of the people’s trust in a God who is big enough to hear their hurt, strong enough to handle their anger and pain. It also identifies the congregation as a people who, even in their suffering, have the courage to call on the Lord God… to help them.” (1) (Feasting on the Word, p. 10). God is big enough to hear our anguished cries over the death of a child. God is big enough to hear our grief. God is big enough to even hear our complaints when we think God is the cause. God is big enough to handle our righteous indignation. God is big enough, because His love for us is greater than any grief we have ever borne.
The Psalmist seems to cry out for those “glory days of the past” (p. 12), a “yearning for restoration of the life we once knew, be it the life of our families, relationships, churches or even our nation”. But our life is not lived in the past, but should be about seeking God in the present, to carry us through to the future. God is big enough to hear our grief filled cries and then to “let His face shine on us, that we might be saved”.
Illustraition: I have to tell you a story about Ray and BJ. I may have mentioned them before, but I want to share with you a God is big enough story. BJ was divorced and raising a young teenage daughter. No doubt, over thirty years ago, this was hard for a single divorced mother. Times were somewhat different, and even like myself and my siblings, BJ’s daughter often returned home to an empty house while her mother worked. One day, BJ returned from work and began looking for her daughter, to find her daughters body in her room, where she had been raped and murdered by an unknown assailant. BJ’s life became even harder. Her father had been a Baptist minister, but she turned away from God and the church. She blamed God; ran from God; cried out against God.
Years later, in her late fifties, she met Ray and they soon married. Ray was an Executive with Texaco and she was an Austin real Estate Agent. Ray too was divorced, once active in his UM Church in every capacity, now was not active at all. Shortly after Ray and BJ were married, Ray’s son, a divorced father himself, with a drug and alcohol problem took a homeless drug addict with mental problems into his home. And one day the call came, that Ray’s son had been murdered by the man he took into his home. The assailant was convicted, but Ray and BJ became even further from God; angry at God; bitter in their grief; and life was hard.