Summary: When our suffering life connects with our prayer life – it sends a cry out to the heavenly realms which God hears. Some thoughts about suffering and where it fits in to our temporary lives on this earth.
Longing for Something Better
Romans 8:18-28 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Intro: You might be familiar with the picture of the ‘praying hands’ [Show on screen]. I’d like to share a story that goes along with them. I don’t know that it’s a true story, but please listen for its meaning.
-The praying hands: Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table, the father, who was a goldsmith by profession, had to work almost eighteen hours a day and he took on any other paying work he could find in the neighborhood.
-Despite the families’ poverty, two of the children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
-And so after many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a plan. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, and with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother had completed his studies, in four years, he would return and support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, by also going down the mines.
-So they tossed a coin and Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg while his brother Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. They say that Albrecht’s etchings, his woodcuts, his oil paintings were far better than even those of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was earning considerable money from selling his work.
-And when this young artist returned to home, the Durer family held a festive dinner to celebrate. After the meal, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled him to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
-All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, there were tears streaming down his face. He rose to his feet and walked over to his brother and he said, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, let alone hold a paintbrush with which to paint. No, brother ... for me it is too late."
-Over 500 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s has hundreds of works of art hanging in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of his works.