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Summary: Life is that life is filled with setbacks and storms. Life is hard sometimes. We’re all going to suffer and it hurts, it’s no fun but it’s something we will all have to go through. But the other truth for you this morning is that we can overcome. We can s

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Surviving the Setbacks and Storms

Philippians 4:6-7

Any of you who have ever played a board game know that one of the most important things to remember is the rules. In fact, most family arguments occurring during a board game are over disputes about the rules. If you don’t know the rules, the game becomes infinitely harder and more confusing. You lose everytime! It’s no fun and you’re just frustrated by it. And that’s how it is with the simple truths of life. They are all grounded in Scripture and thus are God’s guidelines. These rules of life are so simple to follow and yet we need to be reminded of them so we continue to follow them.

The first simple truth of life is that life is filled with setbacks and storms. Life is hard sometimes. We’re all going to suffer and it hurts, it’s no fun but it’s something we will all have to go through. But the other truth for you this morning is that we can overcome. We can survive life’s setbacks and storms. It’s kind of like the board game of life. You spin the dial, get in your car and begin to live what life throws at you. If you look at the board, there’s 10-12 places where people sue you. You are going to get sick. You’re going to have your in-laws visit every once in awhile. And then of course, there’s the space where the taxes are due. Tragedies, difficulties and adversity are all over the board! And the reason they’re on the game of life board is because well, that’s life. What makes life bearable is the fact that for every one of the bad things, there are 4-5 good things which make life fun. There are moments where you see the majesty of creation, times when you fall in love for the first time or the 5th time. There are friendships which are so rich that you just can’t believe it. There are moments where a peace and satisfaction come upon you which far surpass anything you ever imagined. Life is full of all of these things.

Today I want us to focus on four strategies for surviving the times of suffering in life. The first strategy is understanding. It’s just knowing that there will be potholes in your road of life and that they can be overcome. But I want you to know more than that. I want you to have a clear idea about the storms and setbacks in life. There are two phrases we often hear in times of suffering. “Everything happens for a reason” and “It must be God’s will ”. There are times when that just sounds so true but today I want us to dig a little deeper into these sayings. If everything happens for a reason, then everything happens by God’s hand. It is intended to happen and God does it for a reason which is appointed. Take LSU in the World Series. After they killed Texas in the first game, the pundits came out and said very few teams go on to win. Then they lost the second game and there was supposedly very little chance for them to win the third after such a big letdown. But the last game was one to watch and LSU who wasn’t even ranked first came back and won that game. God must be a Tiger’s fan.

But this type of thinking breaks down when a child falls sick with cancer or a mother and her daughter are killed on the highway or a police officer dies while trying to help a homeless man. This type of thinking led many in the OT to place the blame of bad things happening on our shoulders. You must have sinned somewhere in your life so this is God’s punishment to you. But they took it even one step further: if something bad happens to you and you haven’t sinned then it must be because of a sin in your parents or grandparent’s life. Now if I fall sick the night before I preach, surely God’s knows I have to preach 2 services today. Is this God’s punishment for me or maybe God’s trying to teach me a lesson? Does God rig the game? Texas didn’t have a chance because God fore ordained that. Would you want to play the game of life if I controlled the spinner? You can spin but it lands on the number I want so that you get sick and when I spin, it lands on $100,000. Do you want to play a game like that? With this thinking, we become puppets and God stands behind the curtain like in the Wizard of OZ and pulls the levels determining everything that will happen. To me where that breaks down is when you experience a tragedy in your life like a child who is ill, or a person who is raped. Or when my dad who served God in ministry for 42 years and grew every church he was in and then retired and diabetes ate his body away as he underwent two amputations and had no quality of life in retirement. Is this God’s will? There comes a moment when you look at it closer and realize, This just doesn’t work because God becomes a monster in causing these thing and then you can’t turn to God for comfort or help because you’re just so angry at a God who does things like this. The Scriptures tell us that God is just, loving merciful and kind. And whatever God does reflects his character. And so whatever we see of God must be just, loving merciful and kind. So this kind of theology just doesn’t work.

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