Sermon Summary, 5/6/18, “God and Pain” (John 10:10; Heb 2:14; I Cor 15 selected)
I thought I knew about the problem of pain. I’ve preached on it. I’ve watched others go through it. Yet, I know that I didn’t appreciate their pain. And I know, too, that many do not have an understanding of God and pain. One relative, church goer all their life, said, “I don’t know why God made Rosemary suffer so. I just don’t understand. Why would God do that?” I’ve concluded that to begin talking about the problem of pain, we first need to talk of the nature of God. We can’t talk about pain without first talking about God.
The loss of Rosemary of me was so terrible, I had to rethink everything. Does God exist? If he exists, is he a good God, the God of the New Testament revealed in Jesus Christ? Does he care? Did he care about Rosemary? As we talked a few weeks ago, doubts may be the indication that God is already at work in you even before you know it. Working through doubts can strengthen your faith, not diminish it.. We come out the other side stronger. I did.
God exists. It takes far more faith to NOT to believe than to believe. The clues from the Big Bang to the accommodation of the universe to complex life, to the reliability of the world we live in, to beauty, to dozens of other clues give far, far more reason to believe that not believe. (The sermon included a much fuller discussion of clues. Sometimes you just have to be there.)
God exists, but you knew that. But what I want you to know, to believe, to internalize, to make part of you, is that God is the God of the New Testament who came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, as Paul said, “I teach Christ and him crucified.” “Him crucified”—the God of sacrificial love who showed us that there were no limits to how far he would go to demonstrate his love for us.
Jesus lived and lives. Historians outside the bible wrote about him. People who lived with him wrote about him in detail. Historians who interviewed eye-witnesses wrote about him. And we know the resurrection is real. Not from what the Bible says (the early Christians didn’t even have a Bible and they knew it!), but by the changed lives of the eye-witnesses. Nobody dies for what they know to be a lie.
So if not only God exists, but the Jesus of the New Testament is real, would the Jesus who healed the sick cause illness? Would the Jesus who stilled the storm cause Tsunamis? Would the Jesus who overcame death cause death? The answer is NO! Jesus tells us, “The thief came to steal and kill and destroy; I came that you have life and it abundantly.” Eternal life, abundant life. Hebrews 2:14 is more specific, “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” And 1 Cor 15 says “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” If death is the enemy, then certainly God would not be the cause of death.
In 1971, while undergoing an operation, Rosemary had an out of body experience. From that point she told me that she loved life and would always want to live, but that with her faith, she would never again fear death. We teach Christ and him crucified, who loves us unconditionally and sacrificially. The God of love, not pain. Amen.