Summary: The trials and storms we go through always have a purpose.
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40: 26-31
Sermon Idea: The trials and storms we go through always have a purpose.
There was a young father who was facing a battle in his life far beyond his abilities. His young wife was ill, then suddenly she was gone. She left the big burly young man alone to raise their toe-headed girl who was just short of being five years old.
The chapel service was a simple one but you could feel the loss those who attended felt at the passing of this vibrant young mother. After the internment at the small village cemetery, several of the man’s neighbors gathered and asked him to bring his little girl and stay with them for a few days and not yet return home.
Though the man was heart broken, he told his neighbors thank you. But they needed to go home and face what awaited them.
The burly young father and his little girl returned home. The house seemed lifeless. The man moved his daughter’s little bed into his room. He wanted them to face the darkness together.
When they went to bed that night, it seemed like an eternity to the little girl, she just couldn’t fall asleep. It was no different for her father. As the man lay there in the dark it was as if someone were plunging a knife in his heart, every time his little girl would let her sobs out for her mother, who would never return to her.
She would cry well into the night. Her father reached down into her bed and tried to comfort her. It was some time later the little girl quieted down. This was done out of deference to her daddy. The father thinking his daughter asleep, looked heavenward and said brokenhearted, "I trust You, Father, but . . . it’s as dark as midnight!"
After his prayer the father once again heard his daughter crying. "I thought you were asleep, baby" he said.
"Papa, I did try. I was sorry for you. I did try. But I couldn’t go to sleep. Papa, did you ever know it could be so dark? Why Papa? I can’t even see you, it’s so dark. But you love me even if it’s dark, don’t you, Papa? You love me even if I don’t see you, don’t you, Papa?"
To answer her, he lifted her up out of her bed onto his massive chest, until finally his little girl did fall asleep.
Finally quiet he began to pray. It was a prayer born out of his daughter’s questions. He passed them right on up to God.
"Father, it’s dark as midnight. I can’t see You at all. But You love me, even when it’s dark and I can’t see, don’t You" (Mehl 259-260)?
The nation of Israel had been going through a time of darkness. They were returning from exile, because they had not or had forgotten God’s greatness. They had been questioning His perceived absence from their lives. The name Jacob suggests the unworthiness of the nation and brings to mind the experience of their ancestor who was in exile because of his own follies. The same way God had told Jacob. He was now telling His people. Return to the Land of Promise. The people were bringing God down to their level. They thought that He was forgetful and tired.
J. Vernon McGee says,
God knows about the difficulties and problems of His people. If you belong to Him, He is able to quiet the storms of life, but sometimes there are lessons for His own to learn in the storm. When you find yourself in the midst of a storm, instead of sitting and weeping and criticizing God, why don’t you look around and find out what lesson He wants you to learn? God will not let you go through trials unless He has something for you to learn.
I. Waiting requires a purpose. (V. 31)
The great Austrian psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, has written extensively since World War II, on the relation of the meaning of life as related to the whole structure of personality. It is his thinking "that the need to find meaning in our life is more basic to a human being than pleasure and power or anything else." The thing he keeps repeating is that if a person has a "why" to live, they can endure any "how." However, if "why" is lacking, then the persons whole life eventually collapse.
Frankl’s thinking on this matter was developed when he spent a number of years in a German concentration camp. We have all heard how brutal and harsh life was in these places. The prisoners were forced to work hard with little food, clothing or shelter. Frankl began to notice how some didn’t last long under these conditions. Yet others were filled with hope and survived.