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04-17-11 Where’s God? – You Aren’t Alone.

April 20, 2011

We all have stories.We all have pain at some point in our stories.We can tuck that away and act as if it doesn’t exist and we can come into church and put on our “I’m okay” masks, or… We can be real.Let’s admit that life is tough and even tougher if you are a follower of God.Many have wondered at one point or another in their life, “Where are you God?”These sermon notes deal with that question.

My pastor began talking about a story from 1991 when 6 men boarded a 72 foot fishing boat named the Andrea Gail and even though they were warned not to leave due to a forecast of incredible storms at sea, they pushed off.Sure enough, all of them perished at sea.You may have seen the movie based on this true story.I don’t know about you, but I’m a “happy endings” kinda guy.So as I’m watching the circumstances in the movie go from bad to worse, I keep waiting for that moment whenthe hero is going to save the day… but George Clooney never saved the day and everyone dies and the movie rolls credits…I hated that ending.The title even bothered me.“perfect storm”?!!What!?My idea of a pefect storm is a storm that either doesn’t happen at all, or if it does happen it passes without causing any damage to property or people.That’s the perfect storm.But the title of this movie makes no since.It’s like saying, “the perfect heart attack”…. (again to me, something that doesn’t happen).Or like saying, “the perfect divorce”..(again, something that is best described as perfect when it doesn’t happen at all).Despite the title of a movie, we expect a hero to rise up and save the day.And when tragedy or tough times strike in our lives, we expect God to do the same thing.

My pastor goes on, what about those times when the ship that is my life is going down and God is nowhere to be found?

Matthew 27:41-45 (New International Version, ©2011)

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.

So, Jesus is hanging on the cross and things just keep on getting worse.Have you ever had those moments in your life where things just keep getting worse/darker and it seems like God is just being quite and not doing anything?This is one of the things that many people have used as an excuse to either not believe in God or to believe He exist but have nothing to do with Him.Because the thought is, “If He were real, surely He would have come into my situation and saved the day right?”Let’s be honest, there are times when believers have even felt this way right?But I know that when things are going bad in my life or going from bad to worse, I tend to look the most for God.

Let’s rewind a bit in the story here.

Matthew 26:36-38 (New International Version, ©2011)

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

This is a moment in which we can relate to Jesus.He is worried/sorrowful/troubled about tomorrow.He is overwhelmed with what his future looks like if something doesn’t drastically change.We all have those moments. For a lot of us, this is our “where are you God?” moment.What did Jesus do at this point?

1st – He didn’t go alone.

He takes the 3 guys that are closest to Him with Him.He sees the value in having close friends with him.He is God, but he doesn’t want to be alone.This can be rough if you are a guy, because guys tend to want to isolate themselves (especially when we are in rough times).Guys go into our “caves” and everyone knows not to follow or you will get singed by the flames that come from our mouths.But, we have to learn not to do it alone.We must spend time investing in relationships to find those whom we can trust and let get close to us.Remember people are just people and they can help if you let em, but they aren’t God… I’ll explain here.

Matthew 26:39-41 (New International Version, ©2011)

39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed,“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.“Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?”he asked Peter.41“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

2nd-Talk with friends, but rely on God.

Jesus didn’t take the question to His disciples but he takes the question to God.He shares his fear, sorrow, dread, and pain with His disciples, but He relies on God.We need to learn to “lean on” people but “rely on” God.We need to allow a few to get close, but take the question to God.Currently, a number of us instead take our major questions in life to people and rely on them, but we lean into God.Turn it around, Talk to people/Rely on God.

Matthew 26:42-44 (New International Version, ©2011)

42He went away a second time and prayed,“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

This is our me too moment with Jesus.He didn’t stop asking.Look at the last four words of that verse, “saying the same thing.”Don’t stop asking.In the book of Hebrews we are told that we have a high priest Jesus who sympathizes with us in our weakness and that He can relate to what we are going through.There are a number of things that Jesus did or said that I can’t accurately say, “me too” to.I’ve never raised people from the dead, healed a leper, healed a blind man.Even the non huge miracles stuff, I still struggle with loving my enemies and turning the other cheek, but this is one of those times when I can say, “me too Jesus.”We know what it is to have heavy hearts at times and pray over and over and over for this cup to pass us if at all possible, but God’s will be done. Jesus here is looking at tomorrow and it’s looking really rough for Him…. It looks painful and hopeless… Sound familiar?He is doing everything right and yet God is silent.His Father doesn’t intervene and Jesus ends up on the cross.Just like the “perfect storm” you may hit that point in this story or in your story where you think, “wait a minute…. That’s not the ending we are looking for God.”Thankfully, it’s not the end of the story, so let’s go back to the cross.

Matthew 27:46 (King James Version)

46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Jesus yelled this out.He didn’t yell when they were mocking him, or when they were beating him, or at any other point on record, but here… When the Father turns away and is silent, He yells.God turned away because at that point Jesus had taken on all our sin.We must know that silence is not the same thing as absence.The Father wasn’t absent, He was silent.In our turmoil during the times when God isn’t responding or we can’t hear Him, it doesn’t mean He is absent.

Isaiah 53:5 (New International Version, ©2011)

5But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds
we are healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (New International Version, ©2011)

21God made him who had no sin to be sin<sup value=”[a]”>[a]for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God turned His face away from Jesus so that He would never have to turn His face away from us.

Hebrews 13:5 (New International Version, ©2011)

5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.

The whole Romans chapter 8 really applies right here but the following are the verses that were used in this sermon.(i encourage you to read the entire chapter though)

Romans 838For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So please take from this that in those “where are you God?” moments when God is silent, it doesn’t mean He is absent.He is right there with you and it’s not the end of the story.Your impossible moments and my impossible moments are not the end of the story.When creating a masterpiece on the pottery wheel a simple slip of the hand can mess anything up.What appeared to be becoming something beautiful can become a train-wreck in a second.(Sounds a lot like life huh?)But as long as the artist is there, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that cannot be repaired and restored and crafted into the masterpiece that the artist had originally envisioned.Nothing can separate us from the love of God.He never leaves us nor forsakes us.We may get off track and things may seem to be a disaster and He may even be silent, but He never leaves the wheel.

Don’t go it alone Christian.Don’t go it alone Jew.He is good.He is with you.He is for you.If He is for you… seriously, what can possibly stand against you?

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