“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
“Life is difficult.” That’s how Scott M. Peck begins his classic book “The Road Less Traveled.” That’s been the road I’ve traveled, and given your response to my question this past Sunday…we’re on the same journey!
All of us face challenges, difficulties, trials, ups and downs. None of us are exempt. But why is it that some of us face life’s difficulties and fail while others of us flourish. Why do some of us encounter difficulties and grow bitter while others of us grow better? It has to do with perspective!
What are you focused on? Your problems or God’s presence? When we focus on our problems we descend into despair. When we focus on God’s presence and the fact that he is a promise-keeping God we ascend into hope. I’m not talking about “positive-thinking” or “feel-good faith” that ignores the real struggle of our difficulties or the genuine pain of our challenges. No, I’m talking about embracing the life-changing presence of God who has promised to come along side us in the midst of our struggle and hurt to strengthen us in our time of need.
This week we…as a church family…face the challenge of the loss of a loved one—Regine Nikel. This past Sunday evening Regine closed her eyes on earth and opened her eyes in heaven. We feel the loss and experience the grief. However, our grief and our loss is tempered by the promise of God’s truth found in verses that I read for myself and others just this week:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)
Facing the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult challenges we face in live. Our grief is natural and normal. For those who have no hope, grief can become overwhelming; but not for those who have hope! God’s promises of resurrection and reunion with those who have died sustains us and strengthens us. Over time, God’s presence heals our grief and fills us with hope. And that’s how it is in every challenge.
Read through the notes from Sunday’s message. Review the selected promises that offer us help in our difficulties. Meditate on the those promises and remember…God himself is the ever present help who fulfills the promises he’s made.
Scott Corwin, Pastor
Sunday’s Sermon Notes: God Never Leaves Us Alone