Summary: Suffering, Comfort, Troubles, Ministry
The Comfort Zone…Where We Are Really Uncomfortable
Trouble with a Capital “T”
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (p. 803) September 11, 2016
We started a new study this last Wednesday evening…it’s powerful stuff from Kyle Idleman called, “The End of Me”…It’s theme is “Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus Begins.”
His introduction starts out:
[“I was returning a call to a man named Brian. I read in my notes that his 18 month old son had died a few weeks earlier…I didn’t know the details, but as a father of 4, I can’t imagine such a loss. I said a prayer as I dialed his number. Brian answered with a monotone “Hello.” Having had many conversations like this over the past 20 years, I knew there was not much I could say. So, after expressing my heartbreak for his loss, I allowed silence to settle into our conversation. After a few moments, Brian spoke 4 words that I was not prepared for.
“I backed over him.”
He went on…to explain that they didn’t know their son had walked outside…In fact they didn’t even know he was capable of opening the door to go outside.]
After describing this horrible experience he went on to describe how he’s discovered Jesus in a way he never had before His faith had gone from attending church once in a while as tradition to running into God’s arms in complete desperation.
Brian then said this:
“I feel like I’d reached this point in my life when I had absolutely nothing left, and it turns out that for the first time in my life, Jesus has become real. Do you know what I mean? Is that unusual?”
No, it’s not unusual…when he reached the end of himself he discovered Jesus.
Most of us try to live our lives depending on our own resources…our intellect, our strength, our money, our endurace…but what happens when that resource runs out? What happens when that bank account is empty?
The Apostle Paul writes:
2 CORINTHIANS 1:8-10 (p. 803)
Let me ask you a question: How do you view God in your troubles?
I. CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE AND YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR MINISTRY
In the midst of pain and suffering, grief and confusion, fill our souls…it’s not fun to be laying on the floor filled with such hurt all you can do is moan and cry out. Why did you let this happen God? Why didn’t you intervene? comes from David the Psalmist’s lips and they’ve come from yours and mine! And if they haven’t yet, they will.
It’s that place Paul describes “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired at life itself…we felt like we’d received a death sentence.”
The Apostle Paul then answers the why is this happening question.
“This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.”
This is exactly what Jesus, God’s Son meant, when He said, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”
Poor means “bankrupt.” “Without the resources to pay.” As Kyle Idleman puts it…”Blessed are you when you reach the end of me.”
How can we think we’re blessed when we’re at this place? I’d ask Abraham as the knife was raised…Daniel as he stood before the lions den…Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they stood in front of the furnace…I’d look to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s a matter of faith for God’s children…Do we believe God is for us or against us? Can we trust He has a plan when we can’t, see beyond the immediate circumstances because of our pain? Can we believe “he has delivered us from such deadly peril and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.
Do you know the sacrifices God desires more than any other sacrifice? More than our time, money and talents? Psalm 51:17 tells us… “The sacrifice God desires is a broken Spirit…God will not reject a broken and repentant heart.”
So at our place of brokenness…when our resources are gone we have a choice…lay it on an altar of trust and worship or carry it like victims with bitterness.
If you choose the second, your life will take a downward spiral…If you choose the first, you’ve found your purpose for ministry…It allows you and me as God’s children to say.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
[Its like this…Have you ever noticed that after you buy a car you notice every other car like yours on the road…Before the purchase you wouldn’t have paid that much attention…but now that you own one you notice all the other people who own one…like yours.]