Summary: We can be honest in expressing our feelings in pain and suffering.
Title: Transparent Pain and Suffering
Text: Hebrews 5:7-10
Thesis: We can be honest in expressing our feelings in pain and suffering.
This is the fifth message in a Lenten Series: Knowing Christ through Pain and Suffering.
The Apostle Paul wrote, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead. Philippians 3:10-11
This morning we will explore the honesty with which Jesus expressed himself during times of suffering and pain… and we will find that Jesus was a transparent sufferer who could express both his struggle with suffering and his willingness to submit to said suffering, if God willed it.
Life is a precious gift… a good long life is especially so. Perhaps you’ve heard that 114 year old Edna Parker of Shelbyville, Indiana is no longer the oldest person in the world. When Mariam Amash applied for a new identity card, the Israeli Interior Ministry confirmed that the population registry records verify that she was born in 1888, which would make her 120 years old.
She is described as a “healthy, active woman. She walks each day and makes sure she drinks at least one glass of olive oil.” (http://.msnbc.com/id/23173016/
When I try to imagine what it would have been like to have been born in 1888 in what is today an Israeli Arab village but then under Turkish rule, and to have racked up 120 years of life experience, it is mind-boggling. Imagine what she has witnessed in terms of world history. We were reminded this past week that Fidel Castro’s regime saw nine U.S. presidents come and go… think of the world leaders who have risen and fallen in the last 120 years. Imagine the technilogical advances in the last 120 years. Imagine birthing 11 children the eldest now in her late 80s, and celebrating the births of 120 grandchildren, 250 great-grandchildren, and 20 great-great grandchildren. Imagine all the wonderful things she has seen… imagine all the saddness she has seen having lived in one of most conflicted places on earth.
However, in an interview with the BBC, with her family crowding around her, she said, “Yes, I am the oldest person in the world. I eat, I drink, I take showers. I hope to keep going for another 10 years.” She wants to live.
Jesus wanted to live as well. Our text states that while here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. Jesus wanted to live. Pain, suffering, and death were not on Jesus’ “Bucket List.”
It is important and biblical that we acknowledge the legitimacy of our feelings in the face of pain and suffering.
I. People who experience pain and suffering have and express legitimate feelings.
• The Psalmist prayed, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.” Psalm 22:1-2
The first two verses of Psalm 22 are often cited as having been quoted by Jesus Christ, just before he died on the cross. These verses bear witness to the fact that people who are in pain and suffering, have and express legitimate feelings:
• People in pain and suffering feel like God is distant.
• People in pain and suffering wonder if their prayers are heard.
• People in pain and suffering long for relief.
Christian Wiman wrote in Gazing into the Abyss, “I got the news that I was sick on the afternoon of my 39th birthday. It took a bit of time, travel, and a series of wretched tests to get the specific diagnosis, but by then the main blow had been delivered, and that main blow is what matters. I have an incurable cancer in my blood. The disease is as rare as it is mysterious, killing some people quickly and sparing others for decades, afflicting some with all manner of miseries and disabilities and leaving others relatively healthy until the end. Of all the doctors I have seen, not one has been willing to venture even a vague prognosis.
“Then one morning we found ourselves going to church. Found ourselves. That’s exactly what it felt like, in both senses of the phrase, as if some impulse in each of us had finally been catalyzed into action, so that we were casting aside the Sunday paper and moving toward the door with barely a word between us; and as if, once inside the church, we were discovering exactly where and who we were meant to be. That first service was excruciating, in that it seemed to tear all wounds wide open, and it was profoundly comforting, in that it seemed to offer the only possible balm.