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Captioned Sermon (National Community Church - Tears of Suffering)

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Let me add my welcome. It is wonderful to have you with us this weekend at National Community Church no matter which campus you are at. Thanks for making us part of your weekend. Before we dive into the message, we’ve got a couple of things we want to do. First of all, we’ve got a problem, a good problem. We are jammed packed at our Ebenezers location, we can’t do enough services to accommodate all the people who are coming, and our other locations are doing phenomenal. We are growing as a church and as you know, we are looking to launch two locations this year. We just aren’t sure when or where, but this weekend, we take a step in that direction. Go ahead and take out your bulletin and in it, you should find a couple of things. One is a little survey that looks like this; and the other is a card called Tears, it is a prayer card, I’ll explain that in just a moment. We are actively doing recognizance and praying and now surveying as we think about where to launch our next location. Honestly, we need a few hundred people from Ebenezers to feel called to be part of the launch team as we get ready to go to where God is taking us next. So, just three simple questions then our ushers will come and give you an opportunity to give in the offering and put this survey in with it. If you don’t have a pen, just prick your finger. (Laughter from the Audience) Would you be interested in being part of a launch team in Friendship Heights, the movie theater at Mazza Gallerie? This is one location we are considering, a door that seems to be opening. It's right up in upper northwest, Maryland, right on the red line. Check definitely, probably, maybe or no. Number 2: Would you be interested in being part of a launch team along the U Street Corridor at the Lincoln Theater? You need to understand that this is months away and something that we are still negotiating and praying about. I asked you to pray about it last weekend. There are a lot of productions lined up, so this is something that we are not sure how or if it can work, but if it does, we want to gauge where we are at. So, check definitely, probably, maybe or no. There is also the possibility that we would do a week-night service, on a night that the theater is dark, so we are wondering if we did it on a week-night, which night would you prefer, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Alright go ahead and fill that out. One last thing, as we kick off a series called ‘Tears’ I just want you to know that we want to be praying for you. This is a very simple mechanism whereby our team wants to be lifting you up in prayer. Our staff, our prayer teams at our different locations and if you want to put your name on there and we will pray for you by name and if you feel more comfortable making this request anonymously, then you do that. You do what you need to do. Either today, maybe at the end of the service, next week, whenever. We want to be praying for you. The ushers will come and up can put your survey card and your prayer card in there. I want to pray for us. Lord, guide us and help us. Lord as we think about our next location, Lord would You order our footsteps? Would You open a door for us? May we have the faith to walk through it? Lord I pray for everybody at each of our locations, everybody is here by divine appointment and as we embark on a series that is going to touch on some tough topics, God I pray that You would do what You do best Come and move amongst us and Holy Spirit be at work in us and do a healing work and a restoration work. God fill our hearts with hope in the midst of some difficult circumstances, that the joy of the Lord would be our strength. We pray these things and thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen. May the lord bless as you give. Before we launch into things, I feel like what I want to do is frame this series and then map it. So, we are going to get to the Book of Job, I promise, but it’s going to take a few minutes to get there. I feel like my Job, and this is important, I want you to hear this, my job is not to study the Bible and teach it to you. My job is to help teach you to study the Bible. There is a big difference between those two things. I’m going to do my best to study it and teach it, but what I’m saying that I want all of us to be studying the Word for ourselves. Obviously, we’ve embarked on this Garden to City journey where we are reading through the Bible together, and I thought we ought to do a little bit of Hermeneutics 101. You might feel like you’re in seminary but you’ve got to hang with me for a couple minutes,but I think it will help you. You might actually find it semi-exciting ok? Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Bible. I’m going to share with you three principles that I think can help you as you study the Bible, and the Book of Job in particular. The Bible was written over a period of 1,500 years and it consists of 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament, written by fishermen and kings and prophets and shepherds and ex-convicts. You’ve got the whole range of human experience written in three different languages on three different continents. And all of that is amazing in and of itself. There is no other book like The Book. But what really sets the Bible apart is the fact that it claims divine inspiration. II Timothy 3:16 says: All Scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that you may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. That’s why we are so intentional in saying let’s read through it together. Here’s the amazing thing, the same Holy Spirit that inspired all of these different writers thousands of years ago is the same Holy Spirit that illuminates us as readers today. How awesome is that! I think that is absolutely amazing! Now let me get to these three Hermeneutical principles, jot these down. Number one, text without context is pretext and might result in a proof-text. You need that one more time? Text without context is pretext and might result in a proof-text. In other words, if you go into the Bible doing a pick and choose, a cut and paste, looking for a one-liner that I like and totally ignore the context in which it was written and then apply it, you are not doing justice and studying the Scripture that way that it was intended to be studied. You need to understand that every book of the Bible is a unique snapshot of a unique time and culture and period in history, and we tend to read it through a 21st Century lens. We are like whats up with all this stuff because we are thinking in 21st century terms. So it’s very difficult for us to understand. Like, how can parents understand that it is a good thing to sacrifice your children to deity? Like what in the world! That is so foreign to us! Are you kidding? Or women remaining silent in the church and wearing head coverings, what’s that about? I don't totally get that. Or what about the animal sacrifices? That’s grotesque. Then you have these practices of ancient warfare that are reprehensible to our 21st Century sensibilities, and what I want you to know is that when you read the Bible, if you read it like it was written yesterday, you are going to have issues. Here’s a way of thinking about it. There is an evolution to the Bible. After all, it was written over 1500 years. Just as there is an evolution to literature and culture and technology and art and warfare and social customs, education, communication, you name it, there is an evolution in the Bible. And you can’t read a book like Job, which most scholars believe is the oldest book in the Bible, dates back to the Stone Age. By the way, the Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stone. There was a movie I went to and that was in the trailer and I just can’t get it out of my head. I love that, and you're stuck with it now. We’re talking about the Neolithic Age, and the reason why it reads so primal and so raw is that it was written so long ago. So there is an evolution. In theological terms, it is called progressive revelation. We believe God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He hasn’t changed, but here’s the deal, just like in a normal human relationship, don’t you reveal more of yourself to that person over time so that you get to know them better and better? In the same way, God, over the course of human history, has revealed more and more of Himself, so when you have a New Testament, think of it as high definition, ok? The Old Testament, you have these evolving pictures of who God is, but it’s not until you get the entire canon of Scripture that you get this full picture of who God is. All of that to say this – if you don’t understand the original context, you will misunderstand the text. Solomon had a thousand concubines, guys don’t go there! ‘Oh man, I’m just obeying the Bible, give them a little holy kiss.’ We are going to send you back to the 1st Century Palestine, we do not teach that to our hospitality team. That is not how we greet people! And it wasn't on the list ok. If you take stuff like that out of context, you are going to run into lots of problems. Here’s the second principle – let Scripture interpret Scripture. You can’t just take one verse and then ignore the rest of it. You’ve got to read every text in light of the entire text. You are going to see some of that this weekend as I draw on a couple of New Testament verses that kind of give us some high definition. Even the gospel of James references Job and talks about how he was steadfast in suffering. So you need to look at all those different texts to then really get a 360-degree perspective on each verse of the Bible. Finally, number three, I think it is important to know that the Old Testament looks forward to the New Testament and that the New Testament, in a sense, is a fulfillment of the Old Testament. Lots of prophecies in the Old Testament that are looking forward to a Messiah. Even the law finds its fulfillment in the New Testament, so even in the Book of Job. This is so cool, in our family, one of the things were trying to do is, as we read it together, around the dinner table, have some conversations about Job. My oldest son Parker came up with this observation, and I thought this was cool because I didn’t even really notice it in my first reading. He said, “Dad, did you notice that Job wishes he had a mediator?” Did you pick that up in your reading this week? He says "Oh, if I only had a mediator." And then he was like, he was looking forward to Christ without even knowing it because in Paul’s letter to Timothy,he said that there is one Mediator between God and man. Then did you pick up on the little phrase ‘my Redeemer lives’? Job has no concept that a couple thousand years later, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God would go to a cross and be crucified for our sins and would be raise again, that He is our Redeemer and He lives. So it looks forward to the New Testament. So it is so critical that we have some of those things in mind. Thats a little bit of hermanuetics 101. Let’s go ahead and dive into this story line. We are beginning a series called ‘Tears’ and tears are the liquid product of a process called lacrimation and although most land mammals have a lacrimation system to keep their eyes moist, this is interesting, humans are the only mammals generally accepted to cry emotional tears. In other words, it is something that is unique to us, created in the image of God. Now, basal tears lubricate the eye and they keep it clear of dust and they're a pretty amazing thing. In case you care, tears are made up of water, mucin, lipids, lysozyme, lactoferrin, lipocalin, lacritin, immunoglobulins, glucose, urea, sodium, and potassium. Some of the substances in lacrimal fluid (such as lysozyme) fight against bacterial infection as a part of the immune system. Are we not wonderfully made? Now, there are also psychic tears, and these are the tears that are unique to us as those created in the image of God. I find this amazing, that tears brought on by emotions, like mourning or pain or suffering, they have a different chemical makeup. Isn’t that interesting? In particular, there is one element of that make up, leucine enkephalin, which is a natural painkiller! Wow! I think what I’m trying to say is this, a series on tears, and some of you are like, thank you so much for getting us all depressed at the beginning of our reading plan! Job and Jeremiah and Lamentations, let’s be depressed for a month during Lent, then we’ll get happy again. But what I want you to understand is that tears are a precious gift from God. God has created us with tear duct and there is a purpose for it and it is so important that we understand that dimension of the human experience, and it’s one reason why I love the Bible. It’s about real people with real problems with real questions and real doubts, and that’s what we are going to be grappling with. You can’t read the Book of Job and not grapple with that. So, we find ourselves in the Book of Job. He is a righteous man, blameless the Bible calls him, and he’s got it all, seven sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, and it says that he is the greatest of all the people of the East. Then Job loses everything. Satan goes to work and Job loses his family in a natural disaster. He loses his possessions and then he loses his health. We are not sure exactly what those painful sores are that we read about in Job, but we do know that his skin blackened and literally peeled off. He was emaciated and had high fever and had nightmares and days mourning and weeping. I think Job 23:2 captures it in one word, it says: Today also, my complaint is bitter, my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. The word ‘groaning’ there isn’t quite strong enough. It is this extreme mental and psychological anguish. The ‘I’m not able to function’ anguish. The Hebrew word is also used to describe a roaring lion. So it’s almost like Job, in this moment, this gut wrenching, primal scream, uncontrollable sobbing, literally roaring out to the Lord. Honestly, he wants to die, doesn't he? He wishes he had never been born. There is no sugarcoating this, there is no soft-selling in this book. It is raw human experience. But in the midst of the suffering, it is the response that is pretty remarkable isn’t it? Listen, Job asked questions, he doesn’t mince words, sometimes he even argues. You don’t have to mince your words with God, He is big enough to take it and He knows what you are thinking anyway. You can’t pull one over on Him. So it’s not that, it’s the simple fact that Job is humble enough to say this in Job 1:21. I think it’s the storyline of this book and it’s the one dimension I really want to focus on this weekend. It says: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will return. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. I know what you want me to do this weekend, you want me to explain suffering, don’t you? That’s really what I would love to get up here and do, but unfortunately I can’t do it in 30 minutes and I probably can’t do it in 30 years. There is a mysterious nature to suffering that is beyond human comprehension. God has created us in a way that we want to know why. I think that’s part of why God has designed us, so I’m not saying that we shouldn’t wrestle with why. In fact, I want to talk about both the cause and effect of suffering, and we’ll talk a little bit about why, but that’s not my primary concern this weekend, because I’m going to take a risk and believe that you are going to be able to hear what I have to say in a way that will challenge you, because here’s what’s so hard about a message like this, some of you come with varying degrees of suffering this weekend. Some of you have lost a loved one in the last few weeks and you’re feeling the raw nerve ending of loss and grief. Some of you on the other end of the spectrum, maybe you’ve had a bad week but no major tragedy, and then everything in between. So I realize that there is no way for me as your pastor to take a tone in this message that will be at the level that every person is at. My fear is that some of you are here this weekend and you are in a crisis, and the bottom line is that I can’t solve that from the pulpit but I would beg of you to sit down with someone on our team because you need someone to be with you and help you walk through that. But this message isn’t so much for that crisis moment, it’s more for the warp of suffering that most of us experience and then how we deal with that. Let me give you a picture first. One of my heroes is a woman by the name of Corrie ten Boom. When I was five years old, our family went to see a movie called The Hiding Place and that story profiles her life story. It was her family that, during the Nazi era, sheltered Jews to save them, and they were caught and she and her father and sisters and others were put onto a train and sent to a concentration camp. As you can imagine, the torture and inhumanities and injustices that they experienced, Corrie lost her father, lost her sister in those concentration camps. Miraculously, she escaped and she used to go around and speak to audiences for many years about her experiences, and as she did, she would look down as she talked. It would almost appear that she was reading notes, but she wasn’t, she was working on a piece of needlepoint, and after telling her story of the cruelty in the camps and the death of her father and sister, Corrie would hold up the back side of that needlepoint, a jumble of colors of threads with literally no discernable pattern on the back of that needlepoint, and she would say, “That’s how we see our lives. That’s what we see from the vantage point of our human limitations, what we see is this jumble of thread that makes no sense.” Then she would turn that needlepoint over and she would show the design that she had created on the front side. This beautiful pattern that she had made, and she would conclude by saying, “This is how God sees your life and someday we will have the privilege of viewing it from his point of view.” I think many of us are on this side looking at the jumble of threads saying, ‘this does not make any sense.’ As Corrie was in the concentration camp, can you imagine all the questions she asked as she endured the death of her dad and then her sister and the inhumanity, and they were hiding Jews. How could God allow us to be captured and sent to the camp? None of that made sense. But somehow in the grand scheme of the story, the redemptive story that God is telling, He used a woman named Corrie ten Boom, living in Holland 1944, to touch a little boy’s heart in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the 1970s. Because it was after watching that movie, and I can’t even explain why, I have no explanation for why the Lord would use that, I don’t even think my parents should have taken me to see that movie at five years old, but it was after watching that movie that God did something in my heart. I remember I went home and that night when my mom tucked me into bed, I said, “Mom, can I ask Jesus into my heart?” And it was a defining moment for me. I have no idea, but somehow the Lord used her suffering to touch the heart of a little kid living a long way away and it began for me a spiritual journey. I think if you don’t hear anything else, what you need to hear this weekend is that all of us are going to suffer. When you come to faith in Christ, it does not give you an immunity card. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” I think what that means is this – the difference between generic suffering is that when you suffer but God is in control of your life and you’ve given your heart to Him like I gave my heart to Him, God redeems it and he is going to use it. I’m going to tell you right now, it is not going to make sense in temporal terms. It never will, it can’t. It can only make sense in light of eternity. The reason why so many of us struggle with our suffering is we look at it in temporal terms. I’m telling you, you are going to experience this week, as you finish the Book of Job, what you are going to realize is that without reading Job 42, the rest of the book doesn’t make sense, because guess what, and here I am ruining the end of the movie, but God restores him! That doesn’t change the pain that he suffered and the tears that were shed and the heartbreak he experienced, it doesn’t change that but it redeems it. And you have to look, because God gives back one of the most beautiful promises in the Book of Job, the thing that I’m hanging on it is Job said that the renewal will come. The renewal will come. The renewal will come. I want to tell you today that if you are in a place of suffering, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do it to hang in there. You hang in there and you give God enough time, you give Him eternity, I promise you this, all the suffering that you experience will be changed and redeemed in light of eternity. Now, let’s take some time and talk a little bit about cause and effect. It’s ok, I think, to ask why, and in some ways I think it is a healthy exercise. I don’t know all the reasons why, but here are three questions you need to ask when you experience suffering, because it will help you discern the cause of the suffering. Jot these down. Number one is that it’s the result of sin. I think that’s the question we have to ask, because I think some of the suffering in our life, we have no idea why it’s happening, but what you need to understand is that it’s the by-product of some sin in our life and God is disciplining us, and we need to discern that. Why? So that we can confess it and we can be made right with Him. But I also want to say is that one of the biggest mistakes we make, it’s an assumption that’s been made throughout human history, it goes all the way back to Job and Job’s three friends. What do they assume? They assume that the cause of the suffering is sin and they do so much damage. Can I just stand up here and say, on behalf of all of us, when major tragedies happen, and some major spiritual figure gets up and in pride and arrogance say that they know the reason why it has happened and then attribute it to sin. I don’t care if you’re talking about Haiti or 9/11, how can you be so arrogant as to think that you know the mind of God and that you can discern the reason why this has happened? You are making the same mistake that Job’s friends made a long time ago. They battered him and added insult to injury. Why? Because they kept getting at the sin issue, but that wasn’t the issue. The same thing in the New Testament, John Chapter 9, you read the story about the man who was born blind, and the question the disciples asked, the assumption that they made was this – who sinned, his parents or him? Remember what Jesus said? Neither, but this happened so that the work of God could be displayed in his life. Then Jesus heals this man who was born blind. What’s unique about that? There were no synaptic connections between the optic nerve and the visual cortex of the brain. This is a unique miracle. Jesus restores his sight and He does it to glorify Himself. It may not be what we want to hear this weekend, but I want to tell you something. One of the greatest dangers to our spiritual maturity, one of the biggest problems that we have, is that if we were just brutally honest with each other, we are far more concerned with our comfort than God’s glory. Most of our prayers revolve around our comfort, and if God answered them, it would reduce us to mediocrity and immaturity. What I want to tell you is if your heart is to glorify God, it is the desire of your heart to glorify God, it is why you were created, then you are going to have to experience some suffering along the way. I don’t like saying it, I don’t like thinking about it, and part of it is because I think about my three children. You know what, everything within me, I think this is the heart of the heavenly Father, wants to spare my children any kind of suffering, no pain, no heartbreak, I don’t want them to go through a broken relationship, I don’t want them to make the mistake that ends up changing the trajectory of their life, I don’t want them to have to endure something that happens to me or a loved one, I don’t want any of that to happen, but you know what? If I really want my children to grow up and become like Christ, then part of that is identifying with the sufferings of Christ. I’m just not here to preach half a gospel. It doesn't resignate with us. This is about glorifying God, and sometimes suffering is the way that you can do that best. Is it the result of sin? That’s a question you have to ask. Number two – is it a spiritual attack? I’m not going to take a lot of time here but this is a spiritual attack isn’t it? This is the active working of the enemy of our souls. You need to understand that he hates you. He is a fallen angel and he wants to bring you down with him. His methods haven’t greatly changed since the Garden of Eden. He will use guilt and fear to neutralize you. He is a liar, he is a tempter and he is the accuser of the brethren. He is tracking you down, but that doesn’t need to scare you. I think sometimes we tend to blame God when honestly some of the things that we experience we ought to just get ticked at the enemy. John 10:10 says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Where you see death and destruction, you see the fingerprints of the enemy, who is very real. But we’re not going to leave it there. Just as the Passover Lamb, the blood was put over the doorposts in Egypt as the death angel swept through and the people of Israel were delivered in that same way, it’s a picture of our Passover Lamb. We are going to celebrate communion this weekend. If the blood of Christ is over the doorpost of your life, you have nothing to fear. He can’t touch you because you are a child of God. think the action point here as I read this is, ok, I’m not going to live in fear, but I’ve been praying Job 1:10 for my children. God put a hedge of protection around them. Do not allow them to experience something that is outside of your plans and purposes. I’ve been praying a hedge of protection around my children. I believe God is able to do it. Finally, number three – is it a test? Is it a test? I think sometimes the Lord uses suffering as a way to test us, to refine us, to purge us, and here’s the thing, to prepare us. This is so hard to say, but if you really looked at yourself and really identify what you like about yourself, these are the good things about me, bet that many of those things, many of those good things would be the by-product of some bad thing that happened in your life. The reason I know this is from personal experience. There are lessons to be learned, there is character to be cultivated that can only happen in the cauldron of suffering. What I want to promise you is that God will redeem you. The issue this weekend, please hear this, is not why this has happened. The issue is who are you going to become as a result of it? Who are you going to become? It was Victor Frankl who years ago wrote a book that is a classic, I love it, Man’s Search for Meaning. Another Holocaust survivor and he wrote about his experiences. Everything was taken away from these prisoners. They were stripped of their clothing and their possessions, personal belongings, pictures. They literally took away their names and gave them numbers. Frankl was number 119,104. They saw loved ones die in the gas chambers. They were tortured. Victor Frankl said this, I tell you what if know that it adds a little weight to what he says. everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of human freedom, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. You can't control what happens to you. Your sin, someone else’s sin, spiritual attack, whatever, you can’t control what happens to you, but I want to remind you that you are responsible. What I mean by that is this – response-able. You have the ability to choose your response. This weekend, I care about the cause and I think it’s healthy If you’re going through a divorce, if you are experiencing a difficult time in your life, if you have depression or some anger issues, get to the cause and try to understand some of that, but that isn’t the issue. It is the effect; it is who you are becoming. Are you becoming more and more like Christ? I was like, Lord it is going to be so hard to say this because I do not want to come across as zero mercy and uncaring, I care about what you are going through, but we have this limited perspective. And honestly, we’re so much about our comfort and not his glory. But it’s about who we are becoming. You are response able. You have the ability to choose your response. When we first moved to Washington D.C., I worked in a para-church ministry and there was a gentleman who was part of that ministry named Charles. I’ll never forget Charles. He was from Nigeria. He spoke with a thick accent. Charles could barely walk up the stairs, he could barely talk because he had suffered several strokes and it had affected the motor cortex and some of his verbal capacity, but the thing I remember about Charles, I drove an old ‘93 Taurus and I would sometimes drive Charles back to the public housing where he lived, and he couldn’t get into the car and I would go over there and take his stiffened, atrophied leg and just forcefully put it into the car because he couldn’t move it, but I can tell you that I don’t know that I’ve ever met anybody with a kinder heart or a sweeter spirit. And I’ll never forget the day I went to pick up Charles at this public housing, a place where none of us would want to live. He could barely walk, barely talk and he was wearing a hat, and his hat said God is good It’s all I could do to keep from crying. I was choking it back as I helped him into the car. I didn’t want to lose it right there, but I was like, O God, may I never complain about the things that I’m going through. Here’s my point, most people in those circumstances would have gotten bitter, or would have developed a critical spirit, but not Charles. He became better through it. Here’s where the redemption comes in, God wants to use whatever it is that you are suffering with to redeem you. He wants to use it for his plans and his purposes. And that changes everything. He wants to use it to make you a stronger person, to make you a better person. He is the only one who can do it. But if you submit to God and you submit in the suffering like Job did, He can do with you what He did with Job. And therein lies, I believe, the hope that we have. In theological terms, what I’m saying is this, suffering is not about suffering, suffering is about sanctification. Suffering is about becoming the person that Christ has destined us to be. Suffering isn’t just about sanctification, suffering is about glorification. It is about our lives glorifying God, in the good times and the bad times. I came from my mother’s womb naked and naked I return, the Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. I can’t control any of that, but I can control my response. Who are you becoming? We want to share a couple of stories this weekend that will bless you and encourage you. They are raw but that’s where we live. Thats where we exist. And my prayer is that as you watch these stories that are shared by a couple of NCCers who had the courage to tell their stories, I pray that the Lord would begin a work in your heart and speak into your life. When I found out I was pregnant, I was very very torn. I thought that this would be the solution to all my problems, that I would have a family and life would be perfect, but I also knew this wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen, that this wasn’t the right situation or the right time. I was too young, we weren’t married. This was not how it was suppose to be. My mother was young. She was on drugs and the thought of having another child was something she couldn’t deal with. She went to the abortion clinic, made it to the steps, and right there, God changed her heart. My mother gave my brother and I up to my grandparents and we begin a life with them. My earliest childhood memory is when I was six years old. I was raped and molested by an older male family relative. I remember it like yesterday, I can tell you the setting and the exact feelings I was feeling. It has affected my life even to this day. For another three or plus years, trying to self-medicate with different relationships and ultimately found myself pregnant again and decided that adoption was not the option. In my mind, my best alternative, out of desperation, out of fear and shame and guilt, was an abortion. I lived a double life. At home and at church, I was a good Christian boy. I memorized Bible Scriptures and went to Bible studies, youth groups. At school, I was a different person. I didn’t want to discuss Christianity. I didn’t want to discuss Christ. This ultimately pushed me so far down the road that I figured no one would love me, especially God. For another five years, I decided that the best idea was to continue running. I tried everything to look ok on the outside, but inside I would’ve rather not been here. When I went away to college, I decided to shut God out of my life completely. I began to drink heavily. I joined a fraternity, and beer and women that was my motto for life, that was my goal. I regularly blacked out. I had one-night stands and I didn’t feel any remorse about it. After a night of drinking, I decided enough was enough. I had a glass of beer and a bottle of pills. I took the pills and drank the beer and laid down on my floor thinking this was the last thing I would ever do. The next morning, I woke up with not even a tummy ache. I couldn’t understand what happened but it was a miracle. I had a best friend in college and we met each other through out fraternity, so our connection and what we built our friendship on was beer and girls. One day, he began to ask me questions about a personal relationship with Christ. I tried to deflect it at first. He asked me if I believed in Jesus, why don’t I follow Him. It was a simple question but I didn’t have an answer. From that moment on, I vowed that I was going to make a change in my life. One day, I just stumbled into a movie theater. This was a new concept for me. The first time I was there, I thought this was awesome. It was exactly the place I needed to be. In February of last year, I tried Kingstowne. They had just opened and I thought why not. I walked in and Pastor Mark had just started the ‘Scar’ series and I don’t think I’ve ever felt as much as I did that time that God was saying, ‘I’m here, you don’t have to run anymore, you just need to turn around.’ I finally got to a point where I realized that the people who love me love me knowing everything and that maybe that meant that God could love me just as I was. In October of last year, I did a study, Forgiven and Set Free, to deal with the abortion. At the end of it, we had a memorial service for our unborn children, and we honored my son Jackson. And I think that was the final step for me to walk out of that prison that I had allowed myself to stay in. In October of 2008, I went to Thailand. This issues that we dealt with were issues that I’d dealt with all my life, and I finally got to see the other side of sexual perversion. I saw girls forced into prostitution with no way out and I’d see men who take advantage. I looked at who I was and what I was becoming. It was a very tough mission trip. There was a lot of crying and a lot of heartache. When I saw the video for Baptism by the Bay, it was like, I want to do this, I need to do this. It was amazing being with family and friends and them all knowing what that meant to me and how far that was. I even said I’ve been a Christian my whole life but now I’m saying I want to be a Christ-follower. My family was there and the family who adopted my daughter, Ellie, was there. One of my favorite pictures of that whole thing was one of Ellie and it’s from behind her and it was her watching me get baptized, and I thought – that’s who I want to be, someone who my children are proud of and who can make a difference. I think that was just one more step in that direction. I don’t have it all figured out, but what I do know is that Seeing where God wants me and what he has for me - I can't wait! I told Phil,"Bro, you made me cry all week." Powerful stories, and here’s what I love. You can’t change mistakes made or pain suffered or bad decisions or whatever, you can’t change the past. But you know what, Phil and Katie, I think if you know them, you know that there is a joy about their lives. What I promise you today is that there is something on the other side of suffering. I want to end with this verse, Job 31:40: The words of Job ended. That’s a powerful statement. There just comes this point in the book where he is like, all right, I’ve come to the end of myself. I don’t know if there are too many places more scary than coming to the end of yourself. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the last place you want to be. But I want to tell you that sometimes, it’s the best place you can be, because this is what happens, the end is really a new beginning, and what you discover is that there is a God who is there. Phil said enough is enough. Katie said just quit running away and God was saying, ‘I’m right here, just turn around.’ And that’s the promise I believe for each one of us. All we need to do is turn around. I believe the Redeemer is there to help us, to love us, to embrace us, to give us a new beginning. Let’s pray. Father we come to You and we pray that your Spirit would do what your Spirit does, that You would go to work on our hearts, in our minds. Lord some are here with mental anguish and with questions that they’ve had forever and who are trying to figure out why and to get to the bottom of different things that have happened in their lives. And like Job, much of it remains a mystery. But God I pray that the encouragement would be that what matters most is the effect. Lord is there a way, even in the worst of circumstances, even in the midst of tragedy or suffering, is there a way the You can be glorified? Is there a way that we can be sanctified? God I pray that in that we would find our hope. God I pray that our suffering would not be wasted, but that it would be redeemed for your plan and for your purposes. And Lord I pray for those who have suffered and lost, God that the renewal would come, that You would give a new lease on life, that something new would begin inside of us. Even though the enemy has come to kill, steal and destroy, You came to give us life and give it more abundantly. Oh God I pray for those who are in the midst of Job Chapter 1 that they would be able to see Job Chapter 42. God would your Spirit come and comfort and counsel and help us, we pray, in Jesus’ Amen.

Video Details

Duration: 51 minutes and 45 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 188
Posted by: oneeyeth on Mar 22, 2010

Tears of Suffering: A Study in Job
From the Series: Tears
Speaker: Mark Batterson
Date: February 28, 2010
Run Time: 51:45

This message explores the cause and effect of suffering.

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