Summary: We have real challenges in life that we think we can control. The truth is that we are dependent on God. When our hearts come together with his we find the sanctuary we need.
1. When Hearts Come Together
In November 2004, two North Carolina buddies, Dale Beatty and John Gallina, were wounded when their vehicle hit an anti-tank mine in Iraq. John received severe head and back injuries. Dale lost both legs below the knee. Neither man let their injuries stop them. Returning home, they formed an organization to provide accessible housing solutions for disabled veterans. Their story has widely appeared in the media, and they've been called part of "the new greatest generation." Their slogan: "When hearts come together, great things happen."
We can't always control what happens to us, but we are responsible for our response. It takes time to work through painful and injurious episodes in life; but nothing is wasted in the providence of God. He knows how to take every burden and bring from it a blessing. Obstacles are stepping stones, not roadblocks.
In times of loss, it's necessary to grieve, process the pain, ask questions, and allow ourselves to cycle through natural human emotions. But all the while, we can cry to the Lord. When overwhelmed, we can pray, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
2. We may not be able to rejoice in our circumstances, but we can rejoice in the Lord and brighten up in God our Savior. Robert J. Morgan
3. Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
2 from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah Psalm 61.1-4
I. Recognize the Realities of Life
A. Life Is Not Always Pleasant -- "No Pain; No Pain"
B. Our Circumstances are Never Wasted
1. Bad Circumstances help us see God
2. Bad circumstances help us excel
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12.10 (context of thorn in flesh)
3. No Pain; No Gain -- Ease is not always best
* [Charles Kettering had a broken arm that changed things for the auto industry. Years ago Kettering was in front of his car, cranking the engine when it "kicked him." That is, the engine had to be started with a crank. The cylinder would fire and turn the crank rather than the crank turn the engine. When that happened the sudden lurch could break the person's arm, which happened to Kettering. As he recovered from his injury he thought that there must be a safer way to start a car. Because of this unfortunate incident, Kettering invented what he called the "self-starter" for engines.
* God sent Abram to the unknown land and blessed the world through him; Moses 40-40-40; we often learn "the hard way" with lasting results in the process
II. We Are Responsible for Our Responses (not Our Circumstances)
A. Circumstances are Beyond our Control -- [We do not get to pick our parents/children
1. I wonder how much God laughs when he watches us think we are in control -- of anything
2. We sometimes play the victim --
a. Bad things happening which are not my fault
b. Bad Choices
3. Really can be victims
a. Wounded Warriors
c. Physical issues
d. Attacks of all sorts
B. How We Respond to our Circumstances is Critical
1. Not being simplistic (Job's wife -- curse God and die)
2. In Properly Responding:
a. God is glorified -- John 9.1-3
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
b. Improved attitudes -- Contentment in Philippians 4
c. Success in Spite of the Critics
WWII Internment Camps for Japanese American Citizens
After Pearl Harbor, the US Government feared that Americans of Japanese descent might be disloyal to the US. They took these families to detention camps. After much consideration many in these camps were given the opportunity to prove their loyalty to the US and permitted to serve in the Armed Forces.
The 442nd Combat Regimental Team was formed, made up of Japanese Americans. This regiment won more Congressional Medals of Honor than any other regiment in US history. Following the war this group had the highest percentage of college graduates of any first generation Americans.
III. Requesting Rescue (Psalm 61.1-4)
A. Pictures of God's Provisions
1. Matters of Altitude and Attitude -- High Ground