Summary: This sermon is a very personal take on the theme of The Sufficiency of Jesus Christ. It was written in the wake of the death of my brother from cancer.
Sermon for CATM - June 24, 2007 - The All-Sufficient Christ
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:31-35
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
Did you know that everyone in this room shares something...in common. We have all experienced very difficult times. Very, very low moments.
I am so blessed by the range of emotions that are expressed in the worship that we find in the Bible. The Psalms are songs of worship. And if you’ve ever read them you know they range from joyful, triumphant celebration songs to words that express the depths of despair. The full range of human emotion is uncovered in the Word of God, and gives us some insights perhaps into what it means to be fully alive,. Fully human. Sinful and broken, yet redeemed and healing.
Well, it was the phone call that I had dreaded for a long time. My sister-in-law was weeping on the other end of the line. “Please come. He is not well. Please come. This is it.”
Craig, my brother, had just had his first good sleep in a month, and had woken at around 11 AM, having slept on a portable hospital bed that was brought a day earlier into the family living room because he could no longer climb the stairs. His wife Karen had slept on the floor beside him.
Craig woke up, sat up, and said that he felt better after a good sleep. Things were looking up, he said. So Karen got up and went upstairs and had a shower. Fifteen minutes later she came downstairs to the living room and found Craig in the throws of death. His lungs had collapsed. The cancer had brought him to his final hours.
So she called me and she said: “Please come. He is not well. Please come. This is it.”
I got off the phone with Karen and stared at the wall in my office. I couldn’t think. I grabbed my keys and my coat and ran to my car. I drove from here to Scarborough to pick up Barbara from the school where she teaches and I picked up my parents and we drove to Acton.
Both my sisters also drove, but because of the stress and intensity of what was happening, they were so disoriented one found themself driving toward Ottawa and the other toward Niagara Falls before they realized and turned around.
We arrived at Craig’s house at 2:40 in the afternoon. My sisters showed up within the next 20 minutes. Craig was hanging by a thread. By 3:05 we were all around him, sensing he was in his last seconds. The last words he heard were: “We love you, Craig. We are with you. We love you. We love you. You are not alone. We love you”. By 3:10, he was gone.
The next weeks passed in a blur. The funeral arrangements. The very sad family gathering where we met to join our grief together. The funeral itself. I was numb. Over the next few weeks I was pretty raw. At times I was overcome with grief and would lose control of my breathing. I would have to balance against a wall or sit down quickly. The profound sadness had an uncontrollable effect on my body. Sometimes I was angry. Angry at cancer. Angry at death. Angry at God. I was confused. I found it difficult to pray in the normal way. I found it easy to pray very honestly, bluntly. I poured out my grief to God.
And somewhere in the midst of a lot of raw emotion I somehow, heard Jesus say: “I love you. I’m with you. I’ll never leave you”. And some how...it was enough. Jesus was enough. His voice and his understanding and his love and his comfort.