You make beautiful things.
You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things.
You make beautiful things out of us.
Michael and Lisa Gungor
Can something that is worthless be turned into something beautiful?
Can tragedy be transformed into victory?
Can horror be reformed into glory?
Can anything good come out of loss?
Can pain be redeemed?
We need to know these things. All of us at some point in our lives will want to know if beautiful things can come out of ugly.
You are living your life…going about your business…livin the dream… …and then IT (the crisis) hits…Illness, tragedy, death loss. And life will never be the same again.
And in this place everything is up for grabs…nothing feels right
· you feel lost, confused, lonely, homeless
· And you’ve got questions…like…why?
…and you fixate on that question for so long myths begin to form in your mind:
· There’s something terribly wrong with me…I must be a horrible person
· God did this…the cosmic bully…and you get furious at him
· Satan did this…and all of life feels like one grand conspiracy and demons are under every rock.
· Or you rationalize…well, there obviously was a bigger plan, something more important was pre-ordained long ago that makes my happiness less important.
…and of course, you never really get an answer to the question - why? and in time you simply want to know the 2nd big question: Where’s God in it? Where’s God when there’s no happy ending?
Two weeks ago we began to address that big question and here is what we found
· Where is God in the middle of it? He is there, present – with you.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1
God is with
Providence – the protective care of God; the “withness” of God
Last Monday night on WTHR Todd Erb reflected on God’s presence in the middle the tragic loss of wife and daughter…
Not only does it feel like God's been beside me but He's been carrying me the whole time. There's a verse, Isaiah 41:10, that says, 'Do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will hold onto you with my righteous right hand.' And it feels like that's what He's done with me. He's held onto me. Todd Erb.
God is with us. Walking with us through the valley. Inviting us home. Preparing a meal. Filling our cup. All in the presence of our enemies.
· Note: Let’s be honest – some of you are not there. And, might wonder how to get there…hold on till the end.
Last week we discovered a 2nd
answer to the question - Where is God when there’s no happy ending? - is that he is present in the people of God. people here
Where is God? He is present in the people of God. He is present in the lives of the people he send to care for you. He is there in the community of the church.
· Lindy Seifker and her family are working through the struggle of Stage 4 breast cancer…you’ll hear more of her reflection in a moment but listen to what she said about the people of God – they had an opportunity to move to CA because of job offer for Tim, her husband.
…but we did not pick up and move to the beach this year, because of Grace Church., even though my husband got a job in sunny California. This community means the world to me. Lindy Seifker
· They were experiencing: Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
· IL – home hospice nurse I saw in action – it wasn’t just sweet or kind or touching a sacred moment…it was a take off your shoes, this I holy ground moment.
· When we show up…God shows up…we are God with skin on.
· Where is God? Oh, he’s right here in you!
So we come to the final answer to the question (at least the final answer for now…)
Where’s God when there’s no happy ending?
He’s working to redeem your life. GOD PEOPLE
re·deem - to make something that is bad better or more acceptable; to rescue from loss; to buy back
· redemption is the theological word for Gungor’s song – You make beautiful things
· redemption is the concept that answers if anything good can come out of tragedy – yes!
· redemption is the promise that you can be bought back from the brink of devastation
· redemption is the hope for a new life after your old one is decimated
Redemption is the one word description of: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 - God works for the good
= cooperates with (us and the crisis…the thing)
· “for the good”
o two ways to define good: (1) pleasure (2) profitability
o God empowers the “thing” to be useful in some way.
· this is accentuated in the phrase “who have been called”
= God synergizes our tragedy and our calling
o For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
o Your pain or crisis does not negate your calling…and can help to shape it!
o IL – my chronic illness, loss of my father and other crises I faced over the past 2-3 years have made me a better leader – shaped my calling.
· one more phrase “His purpose”
– God links our loss with his desires for the world.
o my pain, if I embrace it can somehow lead to one of the broken places of the world being healed. (someone led to Jesus, someone else healed, some injustice confronted, etc.)
· God can redeem our pain, loss and tragedy and do something good with it!
Jerry Sittser – who lost 3 generations of women in his family:
Redemption is a completion, enlargement and perfection of what we experience in this life.
Redemption is the story of a sapling gradually formed into a weathered and beautiful tree.
Redemption promises to transform us, completely so.
Jerry Sittser, A Grace Revealed
Now, let’s get more specific- ways that God will bring redemption from our crisis:
Deeper impact on other people
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. Romans 15:5
· My crisis actually can create a unity with others – can create deeper community
Because of my illness, I am now able to end my time with them FULLY PRESENT in all that they have going on. I am now able to enjoy much more time with both family and friends, and feel extremely blessed as a result. Lindy Siefker
· Todd has seen too how his tragedy could affect others:
If someone can hear words of faith and to be encouraged, that's the kind of message I'd like to portray. Todd Erb.
· Paul, the first Christian missionary, was also a struggler…
We are hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, …So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:12
Living for each moment
Kara Tippets battling stage 4 breast cancer. She is from Noblesville but now lives in Colorado with her husband, who is a pastor, and 4 young children.
I once lived in a land where I felt like a commodity to be used up- and I was. But this place of grace I now know - I could never go back. This living free, trusting grace and not my own strength, this moving in each moment - this grace is like none other. Kara Tippets
· time slows down in a loss…and that can be horrifying or it can be freeing…every moment matters so much more. You tend to seize the day more frequently.
Peace and perseverance
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faithproduces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be matureand complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
· If we allow God to shape us…we can become more thoughtful and longsuffering through loss. Ever been around a person who has experienced devastation and wondered at their calmness – this is why. Redemption.
A longer view of life – eternity.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
· In great tragedy we tend to lift our eyes further down the road and a longing starts to emerge that goes beyond theory and theology.
· We start to think of heaven more.
When engulfed by the terror of tempestuous seas
Unknown waves before you roll
At the end of doubt and peril is eternity
Though fear and conflict cease your soul
But just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven
Of touching a hand and finding it Gods’
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial.
Of waking up in glory and finding it home.
Where’s God when there’s no happy ending?
He’s working to redeem your life.
How powerful is redemption? Looking back some twenty years later, I can only express utter astonishment at what God has done. It makes me almost grateful for the loss itself, which I find incomprehensible. Jerry Sittser
And this from Lindy: Please don't be sorry or feel sadness. This has been the most miraculous year of my life! …and I mean every word of it! Lindy Seifker
Now, how can we make this a reality? What unlocks redemption in our pain, loss or tragedy?
Key to redemption is surrender to Jesus! Redemption begins with Surrender to Jesus Christ:
Because ultimately redemption can only occur through faith in and surrender to Jesus Christ
Jesus makes redemption a living reality. Jerry Sittser
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him
, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28