Summary: Rather than observe this service on All Saints Sunday in November, we always hold a Memorial Service honoring the memory of all the saints from our Church Family on Memorial Day Sunday in May each year. This sermon was for this occasion in May 2008.
So You Think You Have It Bad?
Today we honor the memory of those who were part of our Church family or recipients of the ministry of our Church that God has called home within the past year. It is a time to remember and honor those who were loyal to God and His Kingdom, but are present with us in body no more.
The personal devotional guide those of us use who are part of our ACTS, Academy for Christian Training and Service, Accountability Group is the Upper Room Books publication A GUIDE TO PRAYER FOR ALL WHO SEEK GOD compiled by retired United Methodist Bishop Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck. The theme for the daily readings this past week has been “Denying Our Mortality.” It is only human nature for all of us not to want to have to think about death and dying, but God’s Word affirms in Hebrews 9:27, “everyone is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Until Jesus returns it is inevitable that all human beings will one day die.
We not only do not like to think about our own death, we also struggle when it comes to not wanting to give up our own loved ones in death ahead of us. Peter is a good example from Scripture. Jesus began to prepare His disciples for His imminent suffering and death, but Peter could not bear to accept such teaching or think about such possibilities concerning Jesus. Matthew 17: 22 tells us “But Peter took Him aside and corrected Him, ‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’” Peter did not want Jesus to die just as we do not want our loved ones to die.
Since at least January of 2008, we have all seen daily television commercials for the annual “Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.” One young lady, walking in memory of her Mother, who was a breast cancer victim, laments, “I really didn’t have any say so about my Mother’s death, walking in her memory these past two days, I believe I’ve finally had my say.” This young woman regretted loosing her Mother to breast cancer in similar fashion as Peter did not want to think about Jesus having to suffer pain and death.
So often when we loose a loved one through sickness and death or have to deal with the reality of our own suffering, pain, and death, we are tempted to lash out at God, point our finger at Him, blame Him, and say, “God, You are totally unfair. Why are you making this happen to us, to me?”
I have long appreciated Job’s testimony in Job 19:25-27:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last He will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
Maybe you are a family member of one of the eleven we remember in our Memorial Service today. Maybe you feel just like that young woman in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer commercial. You too want to say, “I had no say so how I felt in the death of my Mother, my Father, my son, my daughter, my brother, my sister, my husband, my wife, my friend.” Maybe you are facing sickness and death yourself today, and you are saying, “God, why did this have to happen to me? It seems so unfair. God, do you really care; are you there for me, for our family?”
All of us have to face pain, suffering, sorrow, sickness, and eventually death. The book of Job is thought to be the oldest story recorded in Holy Scriptures. Job most likely lived around the time of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, somewhere around 1800 to 2,000 years before the coming of Christ.
Job was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Technically we would refer to him as a Gentile, but he was a devout follower of the true and living God. In chapter one of the Book of Job we are told that he was “blameless, upright, feared God, and shunned evil.” God Himself keeps reminding Satan that Job is a man of holy integrity.
Satan is sarcastic in his response to God. “Yeah, sure God; he’s been faithful and true to you, but it’s because You’ve put a hedge of protection around him, you’ve blessed him with a large family and tremendous wealth. Remove that hedge of protection, ‘but stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face’ (Job 1:11).” So God allowed Satan to test Job.
Job had everything. He was a very rich man with a wonderful family. God had blessed him with seven sons and three daughters. 2000 years before the Coming of Jesus material wealth was usually determined by the number of live stock one possessed. We learn that Job had 7,000 sheep; 3,000 camels; 500 yoke of oxen; 500 donkeys. He had a large number of servants and was considered to be “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” Job did not lack for anything.