Cling to Jesus

My wife Emily and I had a son named Henryk who passed away over five years ago.  He was five and a half months old at the time.  This coming Friday he would be turning 6 and probably sitting right over there next to Lily. He passed away after having complications in utero where he had something like a stroke and had a lot of brain damage. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t stop and wish Henryk was with us. Daily, we think about suffering and hardship as it relates to life, and how to handle suffering and hardship and trials.

Recently I’ve had a couple fresh observations that I want to share with you this morning.

As most of you know, Emily and I had our fourth child in March, a healthy baby boy named Frederick.  And it hit me that we did nothing different between Henryk and Frederick.  Henryk was taken from us, to go be with Jesus, whereas Frederick is with us and perfectly healthy, in fact, he’s a big boy.  We didn’t do anything different between the two.  Often times suffering and hardship and trials and tribulations come to us and we didn’t do anything specific that caused them.

Suffering and hardship can come upon you even when you didn’t do anything wrong.  In John 9:1-3 we see Jesus who is passing by a blind man, who was blind from birth.  And Jesus’ disciples asked him “Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”  And Jesus answered very powerfully “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

And maybe this morning you need to hear that your suffering, your hardship, your trial, is not your fault.  Rather, it has come upon you. But, that does not mean it is random. God is not missing.  He is not unaware.  And even though you may not understand how in the world God would ever allow this, the facts remain of his character. The God with the power to create and the power to save, also has the power to help you through.  He is in control, and he loves you.

The truth is, suffering can happen to us.  The truth is, we are in control of how we respond. And the truth is, that Jesus suffered far worse, out of love for you, which is why in our suffering, we can always go to Jesus.  God’s love, which we often question and cannot feel in the fires of tribulation, is most on display at the cross.  We know that God loves us because Jesus suffered and died for us.  We are going to hear all about this suffering in Mark 15 in the sermon later by Pastor Kevin.

Jesus suffered out of love for us, which is why we can always go to Jesus by faith, and cling to him as our hope and rock, in the midst of any trial.

And this brings us to our exhortation.  We are often not in control of the things that happen to us, but we are in control of how we respond.

The exhortation is that we acknowledge suffering and hardship in our life, that we acknowledge pain, that we don’t suppress is, and then by faith, we cling to Jesus as we take one day at a time and walk forward with him, even if he feels distant, and even if we aren’t exactly happy with how he is doing things.

Let’s pray.

God, we all have hardship and trials of various sorts in this room.  And we are confused and cannot understand God why you do the things you do.  But you are in control, and you know what you are doing, even if we don’t understand and don’t like it.  God, we are weak and helpless.  Please hold our hands.  Help us in our weakness to cling close to you.

Father, we confess that we can have a pretty crummy attitude towards you when we face pain or hard days.  We can have an entitlement attitude that you should be making our life easier.  We often build cases in our mind of how you should be treating us better.  But who are we?  We weren’t there when you laid the earth and formed us in our mother’s womb.  Who are we?  We are but dust, created by you, the Creator.

Father, this is a great evil, and we know that if we in the church regard sin in our midst, our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now in a time of silent confession. ...