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Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Lent About Suffering

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Third Sunday in Lent

Luke 13:1-9

"Why God?"

"There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ’Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ’Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’"" Luke 13:1-9, RSV.

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

Jesus was asked the age old question in our gospel lesson this morning, why did God Let this happen?

Why did the God allow the tower at Siloam to fall on 18 men? Why?

Why were they more of a sinner than any one else? No answers Jesus.

Why does suffering happen in this world is an age old question. Why sickness, why storms, why accidents? Why?

I would like to share with you an answer to that question written by Bob Perks to a friend that wrote to him upon a tragedy in her life. Bob Perks is a writer and a speaker. He has an e-mail list which I subscribe and you may join also. See the notes at the bottom of this sermon.

""If there is a God, why would He permit this to happen?" she asked of me.

Until recently I struggled to have an answer that I was comfortable with, myself. Yet, at least once a week someone writes to ask me that.

I am not a preacher nor a student of Bible studies. I cannot throw a Bible passage at every circumstance in life. But I have arrived at a point where I feel comfortable with an answer to this question.

I could easily say, "I don’t know."

For a while I used the old, "God works in mysterious ways," answer. It seemed to be a good enough, one size fits all reply to a million unexplainable events in life.

But through the course of the past four plus years I’ve been writing this message, I’ve come to my own conclusion.

Is it biblically correct? Will it fit every faith represented here? I just don’t know.

But when I replied to one of my readers yesterday, it tied into a story line I was about to write and the result was...I felt very comfortable with saying it.

You must know by now that a single word, a phrase, or a look can catch my attention and sparks fly in the creative part of my being. It happened again on Sunday. I was watching a movie and one character asked, "Where’s the river if it doesn’t rain?"

I immediately grabbed my pen and pad to write it down.

Here’s what I heard: "If it weren’t for the rain we wouldn’t have rivers that take us somewhere else."

All the rain in our lives, all the dark cloudy rainy days that wash away our dreams serve a greater purpose.

Our pain, our loss should take us somewhere else. The experience adds to our lives and moves us in a direction further along life’s pathway. Sometimes to a better place than those who have not suffered in life.

Then I read the message from one of my friends.

She was struggling with her reality of God in her life. Unlike before, I didn’t hesitate to reply to her. I didn’t have to think about my answer. For without a doubt I am completely comfortable with it.

Perhaps today you find yourself in a doubting place because frankly, your life has hit bottom and you are wondering, "Why does God permit this?"

Here is my reply:

Dear Friend,

From the deepest part of my soul I hold by heart out to you, but right now, with the mindset that you are in, there is nothing I can say that you will agree with.

You know me from my writing. You know what I will tell you without even asking...but perhaps that is why you wrote to me today.

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