Before we dive into today’s passage of scripture, I want to pause and simply say - thank you.
Hebrews says of Pastoral Leadership, “They are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.
Let them do this with joy and not with groaning.”
Have there been times when being a pastor here has lead to groaning?
Will there be times when Michael will groan because of what is occuring in our community?
But this past month, you have made our team feel incredibly loved.
Serving here has been a joy.
Not just because of precious words of encouragement.
Not only because of Chick-fil-a gift cards and prayers for our son.
But mostly because we are seeing the evidence of our community being strengthened in truth.
3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Your love in action gives us joy.
Your willingness to serve gives us joy.
The baptism of our young men gives us joy.
The return of prodigals gives us joy.
Our hope amidst suffering gives us joy.
And it is that hope, the robust kind, that we will learn to have today.
Let’s ask the Father to guide us.
Father, would you reveal to us the beauty of what is to come so that we can endure the brokenness of what we currently feel.
In the name of Jesus, amen.
In my hand, I have a watermelon seed.
Let’s imagine that you’re from another planet.
You don’t know how plants work and you’ve never seen a watermelon before.
In fact, the only evidence you have that they exist, is this tiny seed in my hand.
I proceed to tell you that one day, this dull, tiny seed, will increase greatly in size.
It will become full and round.
It will be green and have stripes.
It will be red-ish pink on the inside and taste sweet.
It will be perfect for a sunny summer day and when you’re done you can spit out the seeds at your younger siblings.
For all of this to work, it will need to be buried underground and broken.
But given time, under the proper care and conditions, I promise it will become what I’ve described.
Our present life on this earth seems a lot like this seed.
Dull and Insignificant.
But the scriptures tells us, that one day all of creation will be made into something new, beautiful, and full of life.
My goal today, is to describe how God is going to turn our simple seeds into beautiful creations.
My goal is to call us to be bold enough to find hope in a future that makes sense of our present.
Here are three reasons we can have hope despite the suffering we experience in this life.
Present pains deepen the contrast between this life and future happiness.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The greek word for “consider” literally refers to numerical calculation.
Paul endured incredible suffering because of his witness for Jesus.
When he wasn’t being stoned, shipwrecked, or flogged, he was likely in prison.
But when Paul paused to consider the beautiful inheritance that awaits believers, he admits, “its not even comparable”.
What do you consider during your moments of suffering?
How do you attempt to add things up when you lose a loved one?
What equation do you you consider in your heart when you are paralyzed by anxiety or lose friends over unexpected conflict?
This is how many do the math of suffering:
Suffering + nothing beyond the grave = hopelessness
Suffering + an unclear view of eternity = an unstable hope
Paul shows us that there is a different equation:
Suffering + a clear understanding of promised glory = an unshakable hope
The clearer your understanding is of future glory, the deeper your hope will be during moments of suffering.
Let’s picture a scale.
One side is your present pain.
The other side is your future happiness.
On the scale present pain, what would you place?
I feel shame
My car broke down
Someone harmed me with their words
I can’t keep a job
I lost someone I loved
My body is in constant pain
My house is a constant mess
This side of the scale has legitimate weight, now, like Paul, let’s consider the weight of the other side.
With the scriptures as our guide, what promises come to mind?
There is no condemnation
You are forgiven
We have a family
We have a Father
We will be forever free
We will have an imperishable inheritance
We will have a new body
We will have a new earth
One side is temporary.
The other is eternal.
One side is passing away.
The other side is about to begin.
Which side of the scale has the most weight in your heart?
Are you overwhelmed by the weight of present pain or overcome with the weight of future glory?
Allow your heart to believe.
Johnny Cash once penned the witty lyrics, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.”
Friends, the passage teaches us to disagree.
The only way we will find goodness on this broken earth is to allow our heads to poke through the clouds of heaven and look around in awe.
Allow your heart to believe.
But even if we want to believe, suffering makes it hard.
Pain makes this life feel real and makes the next seem theoretical.
It seems like suffering is in 3-D color while eternal life with God dimly displays in 2-D black and white.
The Holy Spirit, knowing this, wants to remind us through scripture that...
Our groaning strengthens joyful anticipation for physical re-creation.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
We often emphasize the importance of individual salvation.
But just as justification is sweetened by the knowledge of adoption, our salvation is sweetened by learning of God’s desire to make all things new.
Instinctively, we feel the bondage, futility, and corruption of creation.
When we want to spend a relaxing afternoon in the garden, we’re meet with thorns, bees, and (for me) sunburn.
Can we go a single month without there being a hurricane or flood?