There was a time in my life where I had a picture-perfect life on paper... a wife, two kids, just bought a big house, fast sports car, fancy watch & shoes, somewhat of an accomplished triathlete, and a pretty great job. I loved God, but in hindsight wasn't always living FOR God during that season. Most of my life was focused on me. Through the course of the next year or so, I saw most of it deteriorate away. I found myself in an estranged relationship with my wife, and eventually was presented divorce papers, totaled my car, and generally felt isolated and alone. I was in what I refer to now as, my "Job" season. I literally wrestled with God in prayer trying to understand what was happening to my life. I was broken and being stripped down. I looked back at some of my journal entries from that time and thought I would share some of my raw words of suffering, and searching-
I’m struggling. You know that, yet I continue to struggle.
I’m hurting; I’m confused; I’m angry; I’m searching.
I want to be a better person, I want to shine your light, reflecting the rays of your love. But instead, I continue to fall and remain an angry and broken person. I keep trying.
Why did you make me this way? Why is it necessary for me to struggle so much, and see so little progress?
I know things take time, but when is enough?
The loneliness is almost unbearable, and there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to the pain.
I hate being an angry person.
Please let my brokenness be complete so that I can move forward. Shelter me, God.
Let my faith be more than my words, greater than the song I sing. The pain I feel right now won’t compare to the joy I experience in Christ. Make this true father.
Watch over my heart and help me serve others. I am tired of living just for me. God, I pray you break all the chains of my selfishness.
I wrestle, but will remain steadfast.
Help me to be the servant you want me to be. Allow me to work for your good.
Let me be the man who truly seeks justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with you. Show me the path. Selah.
Church, let me tell you now that it doesn’t matter what road you’ve been on, or what road you’re on… it’s not the one you have to stay on if you aren’t following God’s will for your life. The broken pieces of our past are simply that, past. They don’t define or determine who we are. I was ashamed, hurt, angry, and confused; and it didn’t end for some time. Some of the things that happened didn’t change. But through the suffering and pain I was experiencing in the upheaval of my life, I knew there was something more. I got plugged in with real community through some brothers in this room, and into a new small group who’s deeply embedded in each other’s lives. I was invited to attend a weekend getaway free from worldly distractions, a spiritual renewal of sorts where the spirit of God unmistakably showed me more clearly the paths I needed to take in my life. It’s been incredibly humbling to see how God has chosen to use me to be there for others who are suffering by lending an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, and an advocate in prayer.
Communion is a place where we celebrate suffering, where we remember a terrible loss and even participate in it. Paul asked the church in Corinth, "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?" -I Cor. 10:16. We are people of the cross, people always looking for good in our pain, and always giving thanks for the transformation we find in suffering.
So, this morning, we gather to offer thanksgiving for the suffering Christ, crushed and made new. We gather to offer thanksgiving for our own suffering, suffering making us new