Life Sucks?

A younger friend, who is a pastor, recently announced his next sermon series title – “Life Sucks.” When I read it, I laughed, amused by his summary of Ecclesiastes, that book in the Bible from which he will be taking his texts. In fact, it is a book full of cynicism. For example, Solomon writes “I hate life because everything done here under the sun is so irrational. Everything is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:17, NLT)  Who has not felt that way at least occasionally, especially in this recent year of tumultuous politics and pandemic chaos?

I, too, have felt the pull to become cynical, perhaps even bitter.  If I spend too much time just looking at the surface of things, I am likely to sigh “What’s the use of it all? Who cares? What is accomplished that tomorrow won’t undo?”  Do you ever feel that way?   If we give that temptation any room in our thoughts we are dangerously close to spiritual apathy, giving up and giving in to the darkness that surrounds us.

The word of God presses an important principle into us. What is it? Patient endurance!  There are times when the reality is difficult, when it seems that the sun will never shine brightly again. Andy Stanley reminds us that “The daily grind of life is hard on visions. Life is now. Bills are now. Crisis is now. Vision is later. It is easy, therefore, to lose sight of the main thing, to sacrifice the best for the good. All of us run the risk of allowing secondary issues to rob us of the joy of seeing our visions come to completion. Distractions slowly kill the vision.” (Visioneering, Multnomah, 1999)

Pastor James of the first church in Jerusalem  points to the labor of the farmer to illustrate how we must meet that temptation slip into a ‘whatever, how cares’ kind of apathy.  “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8, NIV)  Be patient! Let God work.  

Charles Colson worked at the pinnacle of power in the Nixon White House and lost his way. In the Watergate scandal, he pled guilty to a felony. He lost his law license and was sent to federal prison. At the time, he was a baby Believer, a new Christian, and his faith took a beating.  When he was released, he wondered what to do, what it all meant, how his life would find any meaning. 

He waited on God, for 18 months! His memories of encounters with other forgotten, hopeless men in those awful places became the tools that God used to reshape Colson’s vision and a ministry called Prison Fellowship was born. Colson gave the rest of his life to bringing God’s hope to those most of the rest of society had written off as unworthy of care!  He wrote “So out of my prison experience, paradoxically, came a challenge which has turned out to be more fulfilling than anything I could have imagined. Freedom lies in obedience to our calling.”  (The Good Life, 2005, Tyndale Publishing)

If we seek results too soon, if we insist on a continual sense of fulfillment, we will grow frustrated.  If we make ‘success’ our measure of happiness we will be in a constant state of unrest looking for the ‘next best thing.’ Therein are the seeds of disillusionment and failure. We need the ‘long view,’ the patient endurance that characterizes the lives of those whose ultimate hope is gaining God’s commendation.

This is Friday and today, as with every Friday, I know that it is my responsibility to complete the message that I will bring to the congregation on Sunday. That ‘job’ can be viewed in two different ways. If I approach my desk to fill up pages with words ‘to say on Sunday’ because it’s ‘my job,’  joy will be lost.  My likely goal will be just to ‘get it done.’  If with the sense of my calling, remembering that I have the opportunity to help somebody whose lost, confused, or without hope to find the Way,  that vision will keep me in pursuit of God’s best, for His glory.

Never lose sight of the `why’ behind the `what.’  

Refuse to live just to survive. Ask God for quiet hope, for patient endurance, for faith to live for what might be invisible at the moment. 
King David, at the realization of a dream, sang this:
“O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
” (Psalm 30:3-5, NIV)

Here is a word from the Word.

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  And my righteous ones will live by faith.”
(Hebrews 10:35-38, NLT)

____________

Good God Almighty

I can’t count the times
I’ve called Your name some broken night
And You showed up and patched me up
Like You do every time
I get amnesia I forget that You keep coming around
Yeah ain’t no way You’ll ever let me down

Good God Almighty
I hope You’ll find me
Praising Your Name no matter what comes
‘Cause I know where I’d be
Without Your mercy
So I keep praising Your name at the top of my lungs

Tell me is He good (He’s good)
Tell me is He God (He’s God)
He is Good God Almighty

You say Your love goes on forever
That Your mercy never stops
So why would I assume
You’d be somebody that You’re not
Like sun in the morning
I know You’re gonna be there every day
So what on earth could make me be afraid

Praise Him in the morning
Praise Him in the noon time
Praise Him when the sun goes down
Love Him in the morning
Love Him in the noon time
Love Him when the sun goes down

Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the noon time
Jesus when the sun goes down
Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the noon time
Jesus when the sun goes down

Ben Glover | David Crowder | Jeff Sojka
© 2021 9t One Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Ariose Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Sojka Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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