daily Broadcast

When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

From the series Jesus Offers Hope

Ever been in a tough spot? You call out to God for help and then what happens next is almost unthinkable - it not only doesn’t get any better, but it gets absolutely impossible. Chip asks the question: Could it be that God wanted your situation to go from bad to impossible? What do you do when life just doesn't make sense?

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Message Transcript

I’m just going to go out on a limb and suggest that we all have problems in life and if you don’t have some big ones now, if you live a little longer, they’ll come. Right?

You all have adversity. Sometimes it’s because you make just an honest mistake. It causes some problems and sometimes because people do some things to you that are out of your control and it hurts you and wounds you.

Sometimes its health issues and it just brings pain and sometimes it’s financial.  Sometimes, from observation and personal experience, you just blatantly sin. You know what’s right to do or you know what you ought to do and you don’t do it and there are consequences.  And t produces pain and struggles and woundedness.

But there are other times when, as far as you know, you’re walking as closely with God as you know how. You want to love Him; you want to serve Him; there’s nothing between you and Him that you’re aware of, and something bad comes into your life.  Something difficult comes into your life and you do exactly what the Bible talks about. You do exactly what Jesus says, “Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden. Ask… seek… knock.”

And so, you ask and you seek and you knock.  And maybe even fast and you get some wise counsel and then - nothing. God’s silent. In fact, He goes beyond silent. He feels distant.  And down deep in your soul it goes something like: God, now wait a second. I’m seeking You; walking with You; responding in every way I know how.  And what about all that stuff where You’re supposed to help me?  I’m not getting anything.

And then, down deep you feel something like: I don’t think God cares about me. I mean, He may care about other people but I don’t think He really cares about me. And, if He does, then why would He be silent and distant and at least not seem to care?

If you find yourself there or someone that you love in that window, there’s hope for you today. We’re going to talk about Jesus offering hope when life doesn’t make sense.

On the front of your teaching handout, I posed this question and it’s what I want to address in our time together.

Why would God let our most difficult problems go from bad to impossible if he really loved us? You ever have that happen? I mean, it’s bad and you ask God for help and it’s not like it just stays bad. It goes from bad to impossible.

Now, in your teaching handout, I’ve done a little something different.  I’ve been encouraging you all to bring your Bible or your mobile device and dig in personally.

And so, if you’ll get a pen out,  I’m going to ask you to underline a few words, circle a few words because what I want you to do is learn how to study the Scriptures for yourself.

John chapter 11, Jesus is going to ask and answer this question that we posed: If God really loves me and you ask for help, how could He let something go from bad to worse?

A problem is brought to Jesus in verses 1-3 of John 11. “Now, a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.  So, the sister sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick.”

So, here’s what we know. Someone has a very serious illness. Second, what we know is these aren’t people that are out of God’s will. These aren’t people that are casual.  These are people that Jesus, from the rest of the New Testament, He hangs out with them. They’re the most devoted followers. He cares deeply about them.

And so, “Hey Jesus, You’ve hung out at our house.  We know You.  We love You.  We’ve worshipped You.  We have a problem,” so they bring it to Jesus. “Our brother is sick, the one that You love.”

Jesus, in verses 4-6, responds to the problem. “When Jesus heard this He said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified.’”

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. You might just put parenthesis in your notes there. It’s just a parenthetical comment. So He makes a pronouncement: This sickness has a purpose. The purpose is that God’s reputation – who He is –  and God’s Son, Jesus, will be glorified or be made known.  And then because of how He’s going to operate, He wants to remind His listeners and us: Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus.

And then, circle that next word “so” or in some of your translations, it’ll say “yet.” There’s a contrast.  “So, when He heard that Lazarus was sick He stayed where He was two more days.”

Now, I don’t know about you but when I get on the phone and I’ve got a critical situation and I call a close friend and I say, “You know what? You said if I ever, ever really, really need you, you pick up the phone and I’ll be there for you.” And I call them and I say, “Hey, I really, really need you.” And their response is: “Great. I’m not coming.”

I don’t know about you but that does not communicate a lot of love coming this direction. I mean, Martha and Mary are scratching their head going:  We sent word. You love him.  And, Jesus says, for reasons we don’t understand - no response. A little bit later, after a couple days with His disciples, He announces a plan to solve the problem in verses 7-16.

“Then He said to his disciples, let us go back to Judea.” So, we’re going to go on a trip together, Jesus and all the disciples.

“But, Rabbi, they said, a short while ago, the Jews tried to stone you. And yet, you’re going to go back there?”

In other words, wait, Jesus. Wait, wait, wait just a second. We like following you. You’re feeding the poor and a lot of great things are happening. You’re an amazing teacher, but the last time we were there, they tried to kill you.

Translation: You know, like, we’re your closest followers and they want to kill you. Kind of, do the math, Jesus. They want to kill us too. Let’s not go back there.

And so, their response to Jesus solving the problem is fear. And then Jesus does what He often does. He says sort of this obscure statement and you wonder what in the world He means. And so, in response to their fear, “Jesus answered: ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles for he has no light.’”  

I’m sure they just felt like, well, that solves it for me. “After He said this, He went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I’m going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he’ll get better.’”

Translation: We don’t have to go, right? He’ll just wake up on his own.

“Jesus had been speaking of his death but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

So then, He told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead and for your sake I’m glad I was not there.’” Would you underline that sentence? Lazarus is dead. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a bad thing.

But He says, “I am glad for your sake,” disciples, “that I was not there.” And then, here’s the purpose clause, “So that you may believe.”

And if you’ll circle the two little words “may believe.” As we walk through this passage, every time the world “believe” or “faith” comes up, I want you to circle it because later today you can go back through and see there is something important about “believe.”

So, He’s glad He’s not there. Lazarus has died. Something’s going to happen so they can believe.  He goes on to say, “…. but let us go to him.”

“Then,” just like every group has different personalities, “Then Thomas, called Didymus, said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go that we may die with Him.’’ Sort of the bravado. Now, we know from Thomas’ history, a little bit later, he does not have a lot of faith.

Often when difficult things come into our life and Jesus calls us to follow Him, the two responses are fear: I’m afraid to follow, or unfounded bravado: Okay, I’m a victim, if God calls me to do it, I’m better than other people, let’s just go die. Neither of those is genuine.

You might jot in your notes, John chapter 8 verse 12, Jesus had told them, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will never walk in darkness. But will walk in the light of life.”

That little statement about if you’re walking in the daylight, naturally speaking, you can see stuff. You won’t fall, but if you’re walking at night you stumble over stuff.

What He was trying to tell them is: Gentlemen, life is filled with difficulty and pain and adversity and problems and it’s a fallen world. I’m going to go back in the thick of it to address this issue. When you are following Me, you’re in the light. Regardless of the externals, regardless of the darkness, regardless of the circumstances, when you are following Me, I’d blaze a trail. I am the light. If you follow Me, regardless of what you’re going through, you won’t stumble. You won’t be in darkness.

Now, Jesus decides to give Martha and Mary, these two of His closest followers, two of His most devoted followers - As you read later in the New Testament you find that Martha does the meal, and Mary sits at His feet.

These are some of the people that are absolutely the most devoted and committed followers. And I want to remind you of that because what He’s going to do in their life and what He is doing in some of your lives right now is only what He does in people that He has a lot of trust in.

Because they lived during a time where life doesn’t make sense: If Jesus really loves me, He would have come. And guess what? He didn’t come and their brother died. And they are sad and they’re mourning, and they’re questioning God’s love. They’re questioning whether they can trust Him in the future.

And so, now, after this delayed response, that we learn wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t because He was busy, He chose not to respond and fix their problem. And now He’s going to come because His strategy is to give them something better than just fixing their life.

Verse 17, “On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him. But Mary stayed at home.”

Now, this is the first encounter that Martha has and is very direct with Jesus. “’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ’if You had been here my brother would not have died.’” What’s she really saying? I thought You loved me! You said to ask, seek, and knock. I sat through you know, the Sermon on the Mount. I was there. I’ve heard Your messages. I asked; I sought; I knocked. If You would have come, he’d have been alive. We had a big problem, I thought You cared and You didn’t show up.

You ever feel like saying that to God? See, what I like is she’s honest. Now, she is also shrewd because she realizes she’s seen Him do some amazing things; so, she’s going to voice her disappointment but then she’s going to couch it in I know you might have another really good plan B.

Look at verse 22. “’But I know that even now, God will give You whatever You ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’” Look, Lord, I got the theology down. I understand it. I agree with it. 

And then, something happens here. I want you if you can imagine watching the most powerful cinema on an IMAX screen and the camera zooms in in HD on Jesus’ face and His eyes meet Mary’s eyes and she has basically said: You let me down. I don’t know if You care; You’re the problem fixer. Why didn’t You fix my problem?

Jesus looks into her eyes with love and compassion and He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

You have to circle a few “believes” in your text, don’t you? So often, what we want is God to be our self-help genie to make our life work out.

God, you know, my house is in trouble. Can You turn it around? God, my marriage is in trouble.  Could You turn it around? God, my mate, my friend, my son, my daughter has cancer. Can You turn it around? God, fix my problem. I want to be faithful. I love You. Fix my world. Fix my problem. Make it work out right. Heal the people that are sick. Give me a new job. And sometimes, God waits.

I had a situation about six or seven years ago that wasn’t just like a month or two but it was a journey of a few years.

I had made a really big decision, at least on our part, to leave where I was comfortable and move to Atlanta and join an organization that I thought a lot of.

I had a great experience, but just shortly after I left the bottom fell out of the market. Remember the whole dot com bust? As a result, the organization that I teamed up with loss their major donors and all the money disappeared.

And six or seven months into it, Living the Edge went and it was healthy and had enough funds. I remember when our Chief Operating Officer, at the time, called me and said, “We have three days left of cash and we’re going to have to close the doors.”

On the way there I could give you a long litany of things like the car that was shipped here was in a wreck; my wife had oral surgery and it didn’t work; her mouth got infected and she was in pain; she had another oral surgery; and it didn’t work and it was infected.  I got a wife that’s crying herself to sleep. I’ve left all my kids and all my family for what looked good.  For six or seven months, everything is down and to the left.

I remember being in my basement and I wasn’t crying out to God like, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God.”  I was just crying. I remember thinking, God, what? What’s the deal?  As far as I know there’s not sin in my life. I left a comfortable situation. I’m trusting You by faith.  I didn’t want to do this, and I started listing all the reasons of --every single thing that could happen relationally, financially, health wise--it was so downhill and so low. I, with palms up, just said, “Okay.”

In my heart of hearts, I felt like, I have only one of two conclusions to make. Either I cannot hear God’s voice anymore and this is the biggest mistake I’ve ever made and I took a wrong turn, and I’m not sure God really cares and loves me and He’s trustworthy. Or, this is the will of God and there’s something in this window of time that in His love and wisdom and goodness and kindness He’s going to do in me.  There’s something to learn and something He’ll reveal to me about Himself that right now, intellectually and emotionally, I do not get. But I’m going to hang on to the end of the rope of hope and say, Your promise that You gave me to do this, and I’m not letting go.  But, I could sure use some help.

It was during that time I was reading through John 11. And I’d never seen this passage like this before. I read John 11 one day and I read it the next day. Then I read it the next day. Then I read it the next day and I read a little something else. Then I read it the next day.

I can’t tell you how long, I just lived in John 11 and what I realized – eventually I wrote in my journal – is rather than solving the problem in the life of Mary and Martha, He revealed to them the author of life.

No one in the New Testament apart from James and John at the Transfiguration ever gets as direct, clear revelation. The Pharisees hear this and even John the Baptist is told some Old Testament passages and report what’s happening and he has to figure it out, but He looks at this woman and He says: You don’t think I love you. Let Me tell you, I am life. All the things you would hope that would happen by the answers to your prayers and your circumstances coming out – I am life and resurrection, and I love you, Martha.  And I am for you and I will supply, in Me and Me alone, plus nothing. Do you believe this?

Notice her response. There was something about His eyes and His words. “Yes, Lord, she told Him. I believe that You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God who has come into the world. And after she said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The teacher is here,’ she said. ‘And He’s asking for you.’”

He’s coming to them. That passage in James, this is the picture – draw near to God – in the midst of your pain and you don’t know what to do and you struggle. Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you.

But He doesn’t go to Mary. “The Teacher’s asking for you.” So, Mary gets up.

“When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and she went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village but was still at the place,” He’s waiting, He’s waiting for her to come. He’s still at the place where Martha had met him.

“When the Jews who have been with Mary in the house comforting her noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, ‘Lord, if You’d been here, my brother would not have died.’”

What’s her response? This is the second time. It’s: I thought You loved me. I thought You cared.

If You would have showed up, You could have fixed my life.

Then, notice Jesus’ response to her hurt and to her pain. “When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

Here’s what I want to remind you. It may be hard; you may not understand it; it may be difficult; but I’ll tell you one thing I learned Jesus was crying with me. And He had not abandoned me.

He loves you and He’s for you. And He may not turn the switch and fix the problem; remove the cancer; give you your house back; cause your marriage to come back all at once, but in the midst of what you can’t understand, if like Martha and Mary, you’ll come and then be honest and tell Him: You know what? This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And shoot it really straight and then sit and listen, He says: I’ll meet you here. I do love you. Your pain elicits the heart of God.

Then notice His response: “’Where have you laid him,’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.” And then you have this short, powerful, “Jesus wept.”

God’s purposes are bigger than fixing my problems and your problems and getting your life to work out and my life to work out when and how we want. Its way bigger, but He cares deeply.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, ‘Lord, if You’d been here, my brother would not have died.’”

What’s her response? This is the second time. It’s: I thought You loved me. I thought You cared. If You would have showed up, You could have fixed my life.

Then, notice Jesus’ response to her hurt and to her pain. “When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

Here’s what I want to remind you. It may be hard; you may not understand it; it may be difficult; but I’ll tell you one thing I learned Jesus was crying with me. And He had not abandoned me.

He loves you and He’s for you. And He may not turn the switch and fix the problem; remove the cancer; give you your house back; cause your marriage to come back all at once; find the person you’re looking for, as a single person; give you the job that you’re always looking for.

In the midst of what you can’t understand, if like Martha and Mary, you’ll come and then be honest and tell Him: You know what? This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And shoot it really straight and then sit and listen, He says: I’ll meet you here. I do love you. Your pain elicits the heart of God.

Then notice His response: “’Where have you laid him,’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.” And then you have this short, powerful, “Jesus wept.”

God’s purposes are bigger than fixing my problems and your problems and getting your life to work out and my life to work out when and how we want. Its way bigger, but He cares deeply.

“But some of them said, could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” This is the third time.  What are they basically saying? Well, yeah, it seems like He really cares and He’s crying now, and He’s very compassionate, but if He was really compassionate, He’d have been here four days ago and helped the guy.

In the midst of our difficulty, our temptation is to begin to believe that God doesn’t really care. I got a letter from a lady. I never know how God does all this but it came in the mail yesterday and she’s a listener to Living on the Edge.

And she says, “I’m a Romans 12 school teacher. And I continue to get down on my knees in my classroom and I pray each morning for each of my students. Since last year, we’ve joined a Bible teaching church with community groups,” or small groups, “and my marriage has been restored. And that’s no small accomplishment on God’s part since we buried a teenage son and both of us are recovering from addiction. Our son, Chris that we lost, died of leukemia. He was diagnosed when he was ten years old. At the time there were no books out there for children with cancer.”

As you read the whole story, you find a woman who is in a really, really difficult, painful life that doesn’t make sense--a ten year old boy gets leukemia and they go through a journey to his early teens. And if you know anything about what happens when you lose a child, over 80% of people that lose a child end up in divorce.

In the journey and the pain, as they were trying to deal with those things, they found that alcohol would relieve some of the pain.  And both she and her husband become alcoholics. Somewhere along the way she began to listen and ponder and seek after God. She realized that she needed to draw near to Him and she got in a good Bible teaching church.  She began to seek after God. Then she had this dream that maybe God could use this difficult painful thing with her son to help others.

She said she tried for two years to get a publisher for her book. She titled it, The Bald Headed Princess. You get it? You know when you go through chemo and you lose all your hair? It was a book about dealing with it as a child. “And eventually I got discouraged so I surrendered it to God and I asked Him to teach me whatever I was supposed to learn from that experience.” Do you see the process God takes us through? Martha - surrender; Mary - surrender; you - surrender; me - surrender.

A horrific losing of a child. Finally, wanting to do something good and saying: God, what’s the deal? I don’t understand. And finally, it’s, Okay, I’ll tell you what. Your agenda, Your way, Your timing. I’m going to surrender it to You. Do you see a theme here? Surrender. Just believe. Believe. Do you believe? Do you trust Me?

“Then, one special day I received a phone call from an interested publisher. They wanted the book and the day they called, it was our son, Chris’ birthday.

God was telling me that He has the perfect timing for everything.  He knows how impatient I am and He wants me to trust Him and have faith in Him even when it seems like nothing is working out. Just like my marriage and my alcoholism. Since last year I’ve been reading the Bible daily and I came across Hebrews 11:1 - Now, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  I am certain that our Chris is in heaven and that God will continue to use my writing to help others.”

See the journey? God doesn’t always show up and wave the magic wand of answered prayer to take us “out of.” Sometimes He delivers us through it. His purposes are beyond. If you never begin to look at life through the lens of eternity, you will never be able to make sense of this life, through just the “now.” God’s purposes are bigger. And His love is greater.

Notice what happens now. Jesus decides, in this case, He’s going to go ahead and solve the problem.

“Jesus,” verse 38, “once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.  It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. But,” ever the pragmatist, Martha, “the sister of the dead man said, ‘By this time, there’s a bad odor for he’s been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone and Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe [Circle it] that You sent Me.’ When He had said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face and Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”

Now, did you notice how Jesus chose to solve this problem? What’d He do? What’d He do?  Did He touch him? He spoke. He spoke. In the midst of your pain, He speaks. When we talk about life in Christ and BIO: Before God, In community, On mission – this is about: In the midst of your pain and hurt you end up living in the Psalms; you live in the gospels and you say, God, this doesn’t make any sense. God, I hurt. God, I want this to be fixed. God, I want her to come back.  God, I want him to change from this addiction that he has. God, do something with one of my kids. God, please, you know I’ve been single. Oh, God, please, I need a job. God, turn my house around. 

Through all that you draw near to Him and He draws near to you. But I will tell you, He speaks life through His Word. David followed Him and in Psalm 119 would say, “If Your Word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”

I do not understand how it works, but I will tell you its living and active; a two-edged sword piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of joint and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It’s a written word but in the heart of a person, who is desperate and hurting, it will become the living Word and the Spirit of God will take the Word of God and it’ll begin to give you promises and hope.

And by the way, it’s not hope for next week. You know, when you have thoughts like, I can’t take this. I can’t do one more week like this. God says: Absolutely not. You can just do the next ten minutes. I’ll give you grace for the next ten minutes. I can’t live one more day like this - You’re absolutely right. Grace comes tomorrow for the pain that you feel when you get to tomorrow. But God will be in the tomorrow. All you have to do is say: I don’t know how but I’m going to hang on. I’m going to hope. I want to meet You.

And what’ll happen is, He’ll speak. And often instead of solving or fixing your problem or making your life work out, or mine, the way I want, when I want, He’ll begin to reveal Himself to you in ways that you never dreamed. He will reveal things about you to you that you never dreamed and in that process a transformation occurs.

The Apostle Paul would take this same truth in Romans chapter 5 and I put it in the discussion questions, so you don’t need to write it down. But he says, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

He says, and then in verse 2 of Romans 5 he says, “And not only in this but we exalt in our tribulation,” or our difficulty, our pain, our adversity, “knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance” - hupomeno. “And perseverance brings about character and character brings about hope and hope doesn’t disappoint because the love of God is poured out in our heart” - in the midst of that process, when it’s so difficult there’s nowhere to go. And there’s nowhere to go and you know what the will of God is? You just don’t give up and you don’t give in.

And what happens is that perseverance produces a character change - a level of trust and when you see that kind of change you realize there’s hope forever and there’s hope now.

And in the midst of that you feel the compassion of God. He pours His love into your life and your heart. He does it through His Word and you heard He does it through community. He does it through the lives of others. And He does a purging, purifying, supernatural thing through you.

I will guarantee the most loving, kind Christ-like people that you will ever meet in the world have suffered deeply. It’s part of the agenda.

The epilogue is two responses: “Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did put their faith [you can circle that phrase – it’s the same as “believe”] put their faith in Him.”

They watched them suffer. They watched what happened. They watched Jesus. In the midst of your pain and my pain and our struggle and how we respond, that’s the most powerful thing in the world.

Many people around you will believe, not because, God shakes the magic wand and “Wow!”, but they watch you go through the process and not give up hope.

But there’s always the other group, the skeptics. No matter how much evidence, they respond the same: “But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” They’re little tattle-tails. “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here, this man is performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him. The Romans will come and take away our temple and our nation.’” One translation says our place and our nation.

Put a box around “temple.” Put a box around “nation.” These are the two enemies of your faith. Now, imagine this. Someone reports: This guy was dead. He was dead for four days. This Jesus, Rabbi guy, you know, the controversial guy, we watched Him. He really loves these ladies. He prayed and He wept. Then He just went and He just spoke words and the guy came out. You know? Like Mummy, the first movie. They peeled off this stuff - and they run, “Pharisees, Pharisees, Pharisees! Did you see what He’s doing?”

Their response, instead of bowing down saying: What more evidence could anyone ever need that this man is God? Instead, what? If everyone believes in Him, we’ll lose our place - the temple - and our nation.

Our place, or the temple, is your position. Our nation, you can write, power.

They knew that if Jesus reigned and was identified as the Messiah, that their role, their status, their position is going to change. And they knew the Romans would come in and they would change their nation. And so, they would lose their power. They’d lose their control.

And your desperate attempt to hang on to your position and your power or control over your life and your circumstances, and your family, and your job, and your world, and your self-made security in home and money, are the things that prevent you from simply believing. They prevent me.

Somehow we’ve grown to believe that unless there’s so much money in some account somewhere; and we own our own home; and our marriages, if we’re married, are deep and intimate and wonderful; and our kids are getting into the right schools; and all these little circumstances are lined up, then life is good and God is faithful. That may pass for 20th or 21st century evangelical American and much Christianity around the world, but it has little or nothing to do with the Gospel or the New Testament of Jesus Christ. God never promised that.

God promised that He’d be with you. God promised that He’s good. God promised that you would have an eternal hope. And God promised that regardless of what you go through in a fallen world, He’ll never leave you or forsake you. And, that He loves you.

And that you and I need to surrender and ask: How do I fulfill Your agenda? That’s what that prayer is: Your kingdom come. Your reign and Your will be done. How? On earth as it is in heaven. And every time we get to see that kind of a person, that Romans 12 kind of Christian, what you find is life – in them and around them.

At the very bottom I put a couple questions that I’d like you to ponder. Sometimes we - God lets our problems go from bad to impossible so we - can you fill it in? – might  believe. Jesus said, “This is the work of God that you might believe in Him, who He has sent.”

Well, what are you supposed to believe, exactly? Two things: Believe in the depth of His love for us. And second, choose to believe in the extent of His power available to us.

He is the resurrection and the life. He can bring life; He can change circumstances. He can do anything, but He does it to us according to our faith.

So, I would ask you, where in your life do you have a bad or impossible situation?

I’d encourage you with a family or friend or in your small group to read out loud Romans 5:1-5. And kick that around: If this is the process God takes normal people through…

I’d encourage you, question three, to read 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 and realize that people who’ve loved God with all their heart that are far more holy than we will ever be, ask God specifically, like the Apostle Paul, for some deliverance and God said, “No.” And told him that His grace is sufficient for him. And that He does supernatural, amazing things in our difficulty and our weakness.

And then I would encourage you to ask yourself who you need in your life to make it through your present difficulty. God doesn’t want you to go through it alone. For some of you, you’re sitting here going, I don’t have one of those right now. Then, ask the next question. Who, in your network, might need you to jump into their life and say could I help you through this? I really want to love you.  I want to be the Christ that will sit with you; cry with you; pray with you.  That’s how the body works.