WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVERYTHING GOES SOUTH?
Video clip: Life of Mary: Unscripted (BluefishTV)
Introduction: What do you do when your world is turned upside down? When everything seems to have gone wrong? Consider what confronted Mary as a young teenager with the announcement that she would bear the Messiah. We like to think that there were no conflicts or struggles facing her. The truth is Mary’s world was thrown into a state of chaos. She was a pregnant unmarried teenager. Who would believe her story? All of her plans were now altered. As Mary’s life became unscripted what would she do? When your life becomes unscripted and everything goes south what do you do?
I. We have plans, hopes, dreams, aspirations that often come crashing down all around us.
A. Sometimes things don’t always go to plan! There is a famous saying that says “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
B. A young teenager with a promising future announces that she is pregnant.
C. A woman who has tried to have a baby for years becomes pregnant only to miscarry in her first trimester.
D. A man planning for retirement, shortly before reaching retirement loses his job.
E. A couple plans to spend their golden years happily traveling when one suddenly comes down with cancer and dies.
F. All your life you have prided yourself on keeping physically fit but you have just been told by doctors that you have contracted a painful and debilitating disease which has no known cure.
G. Job is the perhaps the prime example of all these calamities occurring at once. All of a sudden in an instant all of Job’s dreams, hopes, and plans came to a halt as his world came crashing down around him. He suffered financial reversal, the death of his immediate family, his place in society, his influence, and his health. His dreams died. His dreams fled.
H. Langston Hughes wrote:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
- Langston Hughes, "Dreams," from Collected Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994) © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes
I. Listen to his reaction as recorded in Job 1:20, “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.”
II. When everything goes south on us what is our reaction?
1. A man wrote “I ... am going blind(very slowly). I have read just about everything on healing, studying the Bible through a number of times and yet I become sicker by the day instead of better. My wife and I lost our daughter before she was born and we prayed and stood firm with confidence I did not know I had and yet she is gone. Now I am suffering with fits of rage... I go to a great church and they along with many others have prayed many, many times for me and it only seems to get worse... My problem is that I feel like giving up. I can’t understand how a God who loves us so much allows His children to suffer so much. I know that the life of a Christian will not be a bowl of cherries but there is only so much a person can take. I have great anger towards God for making it so difficult to hear from Him. – copied
2. Psalms 13:1 - 2 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
1. Worry is fear’s extravagance. It extracts interest on trouble before it comes due. It constantly drains the energy God gives us to face daily problems and to fulfill our many responsibilities.
2. Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” begins with “In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double. Don’t worry. Be happy.”
3. A 52-year-old sales manager for a middle-sized corporation suddenly felt his security threatened. Two junior executives had been steadily moving up the promotional ladder and his position represented the next plateau of success. When his annual vacation came due, out of fear and worry he told his boss that he planed to stay on the job. From that time on, he became obsessed with work. He not only passed up his vacation, but he also began to work late at night and on weekends. He soon had trouble at home; nightly quarrels with his wife in direct proportion to his accelerated work schedule. Soon his work was affected. Errors showed up, appointments were forgotten; there were daily flare-ups with fellow employees. After he turned down a second vacation, his wife announced that she would file for divorce. Three days later, his marriage and career both shattered, he went to the basement of their spacious home and took his life. - http://www.gbgm-umc.org/saratogaspringsumc/Sermon.htm
4. Worrying makes things worse and, on top of that, worrying is a great paralyzer in our life, isn’t it?
5. Mark 4:37-38 “A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?”
1. denial (psych.) - Defense mechanism. People can be deliberately unaware of certain painful facts. The consciousness refuses to acknowledge specific realities.
2. To deny is to declare untrue; contradict; to refuse to believe; reject; to refuse to recognize or acknowledge; to disavow.
3. Many of us suffer the "Ostrich Syndrome". We continuously bury our heads in the sand choosing to ignore certain realities of our problems in hopes that they will go away.
1. 1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
2. Mark 4:16 – 17 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
3. You can’t run from your problems successfully! You only run until you get out of breath. And when your out of breath your problems will catch up with you.
1. Mary worshipped when her world turned upside down.
2. Job worshipped when he lost everything.
A. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
B. How do we worship during times of difficulty, hardship, or discontent? It is hard to praise to God when we feel alone, frustrated, discouraged, or angry.
C. Nobody really knows the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure. It’s awfully easy to worship when things are “going well”, but can we still worship “in spirit and in truth” when things seem unfair?
D. Recognizing that the difficulties you face will shape you and God uses them to strengthen you
E. Continue to pray for help from God in finding solutions, dealing with pain, or gaining strength and endurance to make it through.
F. While you experience hardship, remember to be patient. God will not leave you to struggle with all of your difficulties and pain alone. He will stay close and help you grow. As you worship God daily, you can praise Him for the times you had “God sightings” during the trial. Consider keeping a journal so you can stay focused during daily worship and “track” God-sightings.
G. Romans 5:3 – 5 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
H. Proverbs 3:5 - 6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
I. God knows better than we do. We can make our plans, but we need to let him guide our paths.
J. Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
K. We don’t need to worry when things aren’t going according to our plans. We should talk with God about it.