Luke 23: 44-49
Introd. What time in your life did you grow the most spiritually? In surveys dealing with how people grow spiritually, the consistent number one answer is always the same: I was hoping it would be great preaching or teaching; not dynamic worship services; not small groups or serving in a helping ministry. The number one answer is I grew the most when I went through a crisis of suffering.
I don’t like that answer – wish it weren’t true. No one wants pain and suffering – no one is excited about a crisis experience in their life. In fact we try to do everything we can to avoid pain and suffering. Not even long term mature Christians want to embrace a crisis.
In my research for this message I ran across an interesting tidbit about the word “crisis” in Chinese, the word is translated life stinks. That is the normal way we think about crisis experiences – why did this happen to me? It’s not fair – I don’t like it. The fact is that if you live long enough – crisis will come into your life and those close to you. Crisis comes in many different forms
Could be a financial setback, death of a loved one, debilitating illness, accident, divorce, loss of job, moral failure, child born with a severe handicap, estrangement from one of your family, marital discord, or it could be none of those and something completely different. The brotherhood of hurt has universal
Story of easy eddie
Read passage Luke 23: 44-49
You know the story – between the death of Jesus and the resurrection there is very little information concerning what the people said, thought or did.
Can you imagine this crisis event in the life of believers – the one they had dropped everything and followed was dead – their dreams dashed – chaos – fear – maybe anger – we don’t know – aren’t told.
Vs. 47-49 we see three different reactions to the crisis;
Centurion: changed his mind – crisis moved him into faith from disbelief – a crisis can do that.
People standing around felt guilt – despair – beat their chests went home crisis can bring despair
Women just watched – didn’t say anything were in shock over the events didn’t know what to do crisis can do that. It can paralyze us.
So what do we know about crisis experiences and how can we respond in such a way that it builds our faith rather than destroying it. Biblical principles.
Notice your notes different font hard to read squiggly not clear know why? that’s the nature of a crisis hard to figure it out
I. A crisis takes time to absorb
Fortunately for the disciples, 3 days later it was over – that is seldom the case with us. You can’t hurry mourning. No time limit – different for all of us. Could be days months years
Romans 12:15 says rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn – never says give advice to those who mourn – rebuke those who mourn - tell them to snap out of it. Mourn with them.
There are not always answers or simple formulas for those who mourn and it takes time to absorb the loss. Story of Lisa
Job had a crisis – you know the story lost everything that was dear to him except his wife. Three friends came – usually talk about their dumb advice but before they messed up they did something right.
Job 2:13 says: Sat on the ground with him for 7 days and nights and said nothing just were there with him.
Some of our Jewish friends still have that practice called “sitting shiva” simply come to the house of the surviving family and sit with them.
Friendships are vital during times of crisis.
In normal times, isolation hurts, in crisis events isolation kills – kills the spirit - the will - the desire to go on. Mourn with those who mourn is more than a phrase – it is a necessity.
II. A crisis reminds me that control is an illusion
Every one of the disciples would like to have controlled the situation – Lord we don’t want you to die. Peter tried to take control – fight. In retrospect we understand that would have been disastrous.
I don’t know about you but I like to be in control of things. I like to do things my way –I think I know exactly what my kids should do– when people have issues I want to tell them what to do so they get it right. We all want to control my environment –
Then the phone call comes and I realize – I can’t control this situation –can’t take away cancer – restore people from the grave – can’t make everyone financial secure, can’t make a wife love her husband. A crisis reminds us that caring is more important than control. Father in law used to say if you want to make God laugh – tell him your plans for the next 10 years.
One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is this one: God will never give me more than I can handle. Really – Where’s that found? The truth is God’s gives us more than we can handle all the time – that’s why we need Him – need a Savior. If I could handle everything I don’t need him. Bible does say to us: No temptation will come your way that you can’t handle – He will always provide a way of escape - that’s true.
The issues and challenges of life are more than I can handle – I need Jesus. So do you. Crisis of the cross reminds us of that.
III. A crisis forces us to rethink life
Tooling along through life – everything going good – suddenly bam!! There it is. A reversal of some kind I am forced to think about things I never prioritized before.
On Friday – I received two emails from people in the church: one who had a six figure job with Neilsens – being layed off
One who was a single mom – my job is being eliminated what am I going to do?
Crisis forces us to rethink what is going on.
You may never get that job again – that loved one will not come back to life – that disease may handicap you for the rest of your life – so what are you going to do.
You can’t spend the rest of your life wishing things were the way they were. It won’t be. It’s different – It will never be the same again. Doesn’t mean it can’t be good but it will never be the same. If we continue to live in the past moaning over our crisis, we can never enjoy the present.
IV. A crisis can produce growth
After this crisis experience the disciples and believers changed from a scared group of people to a dynamic force that they were willing to die for. That would not have happened without the crisis of the cross.
A crisis can produce anger, resentment, and a hardened heart – or a crisis can produce growth. the scriptures give us story after story of how adversity and crisis led to miraculous growth.
Joseph was sold into slavery and taken from his country
Paul was thrown in jail Jonah was in a fish stomach
Disciples were persecuted
If we are going to grow through our crisis; it requires that we make permanent changes.
9/11 everyone knows what I am talking about the Sunday after 9/11 we had a record attendance for Bayside as did most churches across the nation - then the crisis eased and so did their devotion. The growth will stop when the crisis subsides unless we make permanent changes.
Unfortunately in my years as a pastor I have dealt with many people addicted to something a few years ago, I received a call from one and picked him and drove him to rehab center along the way he promised I will never drink again - 2 weeks later same thing 6 months later he was dead
They are not called the seven deadly sins because they enhance our life. If the crisis involves an addiction, God gives us a window of time to make changes– if we don’t make those changes, we’ll go right back to the addiction.
You have to come to the point where you say – I am willing to do whatever it takes to make these changes, whether it is an addiction to alcohol, food, pornography, sex, uncontrolled spending or whatever it is, it takes those extra steps to insure success.
Jesus accountability boundaries
V. A crisis requires extra measures of love and hope from the caregivers
Quote from Thomas Merton
“As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another because love is often the resetting of broken bones.”
If your crisis is the result of a moral failure, it is usually accompanied by a sense of guilt and shame. Your sense of worth and identity is severely damaged. Those individuals need an extra helping of love and hope.
Jacob/Esau – Jacob wrestled with the angel and was left with a limp - when he reunited with his brother Esau – the story says that Esau ran to him – Jacob couldn’t run anymore – he had a bad hip. Gen. 33:4 Threw their arms around each other and wept.
If this is a typical congregation, many of you have a hurt – lost a loved one - struggling with an addiction - have a handicapped child – lost your job - serious illness You just need some extra tlc from a caregiver.
Conclusion of Ohare story
Conclusion: We cannot always change the circumstances; we don’t always know the reason but when that crisis hits you or your family there are some things I want you to remember:
God remains in control not us
Gods grace is sufficient for all our needs
God’s word is true
God’s mercy is new every morning
God still has a plan for your life.
the tomb is still empty Jesus is with us.