Summary: The pastors in our community take turns preaching at the local hospital. This is the message I preached there recently. It examines the brokenness of our lives and points us to the One from whom our help comes.
When I Called Upon the Lord - Psalm 30 - May 17, 2011
(A Sermon Preached at the Dauphin Hospital)
I’ve got a watch here with me this afternoon. [Hold up watch]. I got it a couple of years ago. It’s got a lot of fancy bells and whistles on it. It’ll tell you the normal stuff – like the time and the date. Beyond that it’s got an alarm and a light and you can even use it as a stop watch. I’m sure it does a lot of other things too that I’ve never bothered to fiddle with. There’s only one problem – you see, this watch doesn’t work. When it first broke down I thought that maybe it was the battery so I went to the store and bought a fresh battery. But it didn’t make any difference. The hands won’t move, the watch won’t keep time. It’s broken and I don’t know how to fix it.
It’s a little something like the world we live in. There’s a lot of brokenness around us these days, isn’t there? There are a lot of people discouraged, for example, by the flooding that’s going on here in Manitoba. People’s homes are being destroyed, some of our farmers won’t be getting a crop this year. We’re talking about people’s livelihoods; we’re talking about their lives. There is a brokenness there.
Slave Lake, Alberta, is about the same size as Dauphin. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about it or not but about half the town has burned to the ground in the last couple of days. Whole neighborhoods have been turned to ashes. I imagine there are a lot of shattered dreams and hopes scattered in the burnt embers of that once thriving town.
But we don’t even have to look that far to find brokenness, do we? I imagine that there is a degree of brokenness right here in this room. It’s the brokenness that comes from injury or illness, or loss. It’s the brokenness brought about by despair for the future and by the uncertainty of what is to come. It’s the brokenness that is magnified when we’re faced with the reality of our own mortality. It can be a brokenness brought about by physical illness, by mental distress, by emotional turmoil. It’s a brokenness that can affect our work, tear apart the home, sunder relationships and steal our joy.
Most, if not all of us, will experience that brokenness at some point in our lives. The truth is, most of us will experience it more than once. And in those times there are often no easy answers, no quick fixes. Sometimes it seems as if there is not even any way out. Sometimes we don’t even know where to turn to find the answers that we’re looking for.
A few years ago I began to have trouble with my hands and feet. I began to lose feeling in them. They would go numb, almost as if they had fallen asleep, but I couldn’t do anything to change it. A little bit later my hands started to tremble with a shaking that I couldn’t control. At times it was difficult to even hold a pen in my hand. Then my vision began to deteriorate as well. It got so bad that there were times when I couldn’t even see well enough to read anything smaller than those big “Exit” signs that you see over doorways. One night I woke up and for about ½ hour I was completely blind in one eye. Couldn’t see anything out of it. It was a terrifying experience to watch your body deteriorate bit by bit, not knowing what to do about it, and not understanding why it was happening.
I saw a number of doctors in that year. Each would pass me on to a different specialist. Finally they began to suspect something like Multiple Sclerosis. It’s not what I wanted to hear. It was devastating news. I had only been married a few short years at the time, our children were very young, and it seemed like the future was being stolen from us – and we didn’t have any answers.
Where do you turn to when something like that happens? Who can you lean on when you don’t have the answers? Who is going to lift you up when your world comes crashing down around you?
My wife and I turned to God. We prayed together on different occasions throughout that period of time. I confess that we often didn’t get the answers we were looking for. The truth is that it often seemed that God wasn’t listening. We knew He was there – we just didn’t know how to make sense of what was going on in our lives.