Summary: First in a series exploring life crisis. Based on the "Who Cares" campaign of Outreach.com. Introductory message explores the role of the church in crisis.
(This message extensively based on the sermon starters provided in the "Who Cares" package materials from Outreach.)
Who cares. Despite the structure of that phrase, which should be a question, it is probably used more frequently anymore as a statement of fact rather than a question. Who cares.
But deep down inside. In the hearts of many people, it often echoes through our lives as a longing, searching, endless question, “Who cares? Does anyone?” Because as we face all the challenges that go with this thing called life, it is easy to reach a point of wondering, “Is there anyone out there that cares about my life, my struggles, the things that I am facing?”
This week we are beginning a new teaching series called “We Care”, and over the next couple of months we will be looking at some of the issues that cause us the most pain and trouble in this life. We’ll be looking problems such as…
- Stress and Depression
And most importantly, looking at what God’s Word would speak into those struggles and challenges. If I was looking to make one of the greatest understatements of the day, I would simply say, “Life is hard,” and would expect to hear at least a few rousing “Amen”s.
And guess what? Jesus not only knew life would be. He told us it would be. In John 16:33 Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble.” Anyone ready to “Amen” yet?
But let’s look at the entirety of that verse (read John 16:33).
Jesus says, “Yea, you are going to have troubles in this world. You are going to struggle with such things as loss and grief, family crisis, loneliness. But in Me, you can have peace. Not instead of trouble, but in the midst of trouble.”
I want us to look closely at this verse, because there is one thing that is guaranteed, and another that is optional. Jesus says, “You will have trouble.” No question about it. It’s guaranteed. Take it to the bank. The Greek word that we see as trouble is thlipsis. It means pressure. Distress. Jesus said that would be a fact of life. Was He right?
But He also offered an option. “You may have peace.” That Greek word is iraynay. It means, a state of tranquility. Harmony among individuals. Security. Safety. The way of the Messiah’s peace.
Jesus makes a connection between trouble, and peace. And here is my suggestion today. Much, if not most. . .if not all, of the social trouble and turmoil of our culture today is due to a hunger for peace. And where all this turmoil, and pressure, and distress kicks in is where the search for peace, the hunger for peace, takes people to the wrong places.
Do you know that in the next thirty minutes,
just while I am sharing with you –
57 kids will run away from home
29 children, not adults, children will attempt suicide
22 girls under 19 years of age will receive an abortion – in the next 30 minutes
Another 14 teenagers will give birth in completion of an unexpected pregnancy
And I don’t know if you put two and two together, but that was the culmination of more than one teenage pregnancy per minute with more then 2/3 of them ending in abortion.
685 teens will use some form of narcotic
In just 30 minutes. We, our children and youth, everyone around us, are in a constant search for peace, but looking in all the wrong places.
Let’s make it more personal. How distant are those statistics for you? Not so much for me. 57 runaways every 30 minutes. Ever lived through a runaway? I remember during my middle school years when my oldest sister jumped in a car with a few young men, and left the state as runaways. I remember the state troopers, the stress, the agony, the fear that event brought into our home as to how it would all end.
29 pre-adult suicide attempts every 30 minutes. As a 16 year old, I attempted suicide twice. Was placed on medications, counseled, shipped across the country for a few months to try and get it all back together. My guess is, in a group of people this size, that the suicide statistic isn’t a very far stretch from your world.
14 teenage births every 30 minutes. As most of you know by now, growing up in a Nazarene parsonage, I had the opportunity to endure that distress, that tension, that trouble not once, but twice when my sister informed my parents she was indeed pregnant. In fact, in America today, one of every 3 girls will be pregnant before they turn 20.
685 teens utilizing some form of narcotic in a 30 minute period. My younger brother was still a teenager when he found himself heavily involved with alcohol, marijuana, and even experimenting with cocaine. Lost a college soccer scholarship. Kicked out of a university.