Summary: Sermon on persevering in the face of trials. 1st sermon in series
Hanging in There
I want to tell you a true story. At least it has truth in it. Well, if it’s not a true story it ought to be.
A young man had been in the army a little over a week. He wrote home and said,
"Folks, I’ve just been here a week. I’m already in trouble, and I don’t even know what I did. You can’t imagine what this basic training has been like. They’ve been getting us up at 5:30 every morning by beating on cans, blowing whistles, rattling our beds, and jerking us up.
Then they make us do calisthenics for a long time. Then we work all day long, and after a late night, we get to a late bed. Then it seems like in fifteen minutes, they’re blowing the whistles and getting us up again at 5:30.
They just de-personalize us terribly. I don’t have a name anymore. I am No. 143. I answer roll call to No. 143. Every time they want me to respond to something, they say, ’No. 143,’ and I’m supposed to answer.
I kept thinking, if I can just make it till Sunday, I can sleep on Sunday. If I can just make it till Sunday, I thought, I’ll be able to rest.
But on Sunday, they didn’t come in and get us up at 5:30, they came in and got us up at 5:00 and marched us five miles to church. We never go to church. I didn’t know what they did in church. We were sitting in there, and a man got up with a book and said, ’No. 143, Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid?’ So I stood up and said, ‘I sure am mister. And you’re the first one who’s been kind enough to ask about it since I’ve been here.’"
Did you catch the key verses, 8 & 9. How did he do that? What was the secret of that? We casually say how are you doing. Sometimes I’m up.
Sometimes I’m down. Sometimes I’m almost up to the ground. We are not just automatically to be up all the time. How do we hang in there?
I want to give you the Four Spiritual Flaws from Chuck Swindoll’s book, Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back. It is a take-off of the Four Spiritual Laws.
Flaw No. 1: Because You are a Christian, all your problems are solved.
Sometimes you get a whole new set of problems when you become a Christian. We do a great disservice to an unbeliever when we bait him by saying, "Come to Christ and all your problems will be over." The Bible never says that. It promises that we will be new creatures; it assures us that we will have a new destiny that is secure; but it does not guarantee a downhill slide once Christ comes into a person’s life.
Flaw No. 2: All the problems you will ever have are addressed in the Bible.
They’re not. It is very unwise for us to make broad, sweeping statements in areas where the Scriptures do not speak. There are many times when we don’t find an explicit answer in Scripture for our specific problem. At such times we are forced to walk by faith, trusting the Lord to show us the next step as it is needed. The Bible simply does not offer a specific answer to every problem in life.
Flaw No. 3: If you are having problems, you are unspiritual.
Isn’t it a shame that this idea is conveyed in so many places today? Having a problem simply proves you are human! We all have problems, and you are not unspiritual because you are wrestling with a dilemma. As a matter of fact, some of the most spiritual men and women I have ever known have wrestled with some of the deepest problems life offers.
Think of Job and his suffering. He did not have an answer. He did not understand why. His counselors, with there severe and heady statements, were grossly deceptive; they didn’t know the answers either. Although Job was spiritual, he had enormous problems.
Flaw No. 4: Being exposed to sound Bible teaching automatically solves problems. There are people all over the world with the most gifted pastors and teachers who are having problems. Also, just because you hear doesn’t mean you are going to apply what you hear.
How is it possible then to “hang in there.” We want to learn the secret of how we can “hang in there.”
I want to share a word with you. It is a Greek word. The word is hupomone. Most of the time in Scripture it is translated patience. But it means more than just taking what comes to you and waiting for it to pass. This word is used some 30 times as a noun and 15 times as a verb in the New Testament. It is taking what comes to us and actually transforming it and making it an opportunity for God to bless in our lives and make our lives a blessing to others.