Sermon Summary, “Life of Meaning: Pain” June 26, 2016
We’re in a search for a life of meaning, the truly human things that we need to do everyday to live a life that matters. Last week we said we need to “Belong to People,” people who are intimately and permanently a part of our lives. This week, we learn that to live a life of meaning we need to “Accept Pain as a Part of Life,” otherwise we’d never dare to hope or to love.
Lane Graves. Two words. That’s all we need to describe pain as a part of life. Lane Graves. Can you imagine? One second Dad hand in hand with his two year old, splashing his feet in the water, the next second in the jaws of an alligator. Can you imagine the pain?
Life is not fair. We need to accept that and teach others to, yet we live in a society that is adverse to pain. “There is a pill for that.” Life should be a party. Not accepting that had lead to alcoholism, pill addiction, a small-town heroin epidemic, suicide of both teens and adults. “I can’t face tomorrow, so I’ll leave others the pain.” Yet I believe if asked, Lane Graves’ parents would say “In spite of the pain, we’ll take the love and joy of the two years we had with him. We’ll accept the pain otherwise how could we have hope and love for our daughter and others.”
The Teacher, the author of Ecclesiastes sees us as nothing different than the animals (Ecc 2:18-21). What he misses is that we can choose. We can choose to love, to hope, to accept the pain of life. Had he read the scrolls of Job, possibly the oldest manuscripts in the Bible, in which the sages have dealt with the issues of pain and why good people suffer, he would have found that maybe God doesn’t answer the question, maybe there is mystery about life that we need to deal with, as Job says, “things too wonderful for me to know.” But what he does know is that steadfastness in God is the thing that restores him and allows him to hope and to love again.
Rosemary and I met with friends this past week we hadn’t seen for 20 years. Ken and Stephanie had a baby diagnosed with meningitis when just five months old requiring care for a lifetime. It changed the trajectory of their lives. Stephanie says when everything was stripped away was when she came face to face with God, and that was when she saw the marginalized through the her daughter. And through seeing the marginalized, Stephanie was called to ministry as a Chaplain.
Ken and Stephanie know that God did not cause their daughter’s illness or their pain, but God was there to walk through the pain, to allow them accept the pain, and to live with hope and love. Amen.