@robertkwendt || lead pastor
What started this past week is a personal favorite of mine. It's #MARCHMADNESS. The time when 68 college basketball teams face off against one another in a single-elimination tournament. In the end, there is one champion. Only one team who can call themselves national champions.
What I love most is not the championship game, but the road to get there. The upsets that seem to happen year after year.
However, this past weekend was historic. It was the first time in the history of the tournament that a 16 seed (last seed) defeated a 1 seed (top team). In fact, it was not only a blowout, but an utter upset.
The defeat was unexpected yet powerful. It was a huge change in the tournament.
The Bible is also full of upset stories. Stories like David and Goliath (read 1 Samuel 17-19). Here David, a shepherd boy, defeats Goliath, a giant, with a simple smooth rock and a sling shot. The odds were stacked against him; yet with God on his side, he is victorious.
While we can learn about our powerful, abundant, and victorious God through this story, we are also faced with a lesson on change.
a moment can change everything
The story of David and Goliath goes on to show us that in a moment, in the blink of an eye, everything can change. When David returns from his victory, the women go out to celebrate with tamborines, music, and dancing. They celebrate the victory by shouting,
"Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!" (1 Samuel 18:7-9).
Out of this, Saul, the king, begins to become jealous of David and seeks to kill him. This began a years' long chase.
David had simply sought to help do his part for his nation. He brought victory in upset fashion. He brought a positive change. YET, he had to run for his life. He had to live a life in fear. He had to face hurt, even amidst a positive change.
Even through good events, change changes our circumstances. || tweet this ||
I want you to simply hear the cry of David as he faced his hurt and pain.
"Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
I am scorned by all my enemies
and despised by my neighbors--
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot.
I have heard the many rumors about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life."
(Psalm 31:9-13 NLT)
David gets real with God. He admits his pain and cries out to God with it.
As followers of Jesus, we have to be real with God too. It is okay to hurt. It is okay to admit pain. It is okay to be real with God! In fact, through being authentic in our conversations with God, we show we have relationship with Him.
Authentic relationship with God requires being transparent with Him about how we feel. || tweet this ||
Here are a few ways to seek God, have authentic relationship with God—while still going through the hurt that comes with change...
#1—change your focus
When facing the hurt that comes with change, it can be easy to have a "woe is me" attitude. It can seem as if the world is against us and that everyone (including God) is out to get us. We feel like it is us against the world.
There was a time when I was in the middle of a major change in my life. My wife and I had just welcomed our son into the world, but at the same time, we had just left the church I was serving at. During this time, we had a newborn child but zero income coming in. I began to freak out. I started to apply for and look for any job imaginable. While we knew God was leading us to another church—even sensing that Fellowship was where He was guiding us—I couldn't simply suffer through the "hurt." I had to take control.
However, no one wanted to hire me.
Home Depot? No. Costco? No. Starbucks? No.
Everywhere I turned, it seemed like I was hitting a dead end. I began to get so frustrated with God. I felt like the world was against me.
Look at the words that David uses following his cry to God:
But I am trusting you, O Lord,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16 NLT)
Instead of saying, "Woe is me," we should be saying, "Woah there's God!"
Reflecting back on my time of hurt amidst change, I realized all that God was giving me. He was giving me time to learn how to be a dad. He was allowing my wife and I to get to do the parenting thing together. He was giving me precious time with my son that I will never ever get back. While I wanted to control things to escape the hurt, God wanted me to find enjoyment in the moment he was giving me. It was a gift.
Instead of saying, "Woe is me," we should be saying, "Woah there's God!" || tweet this ||
#2—anticipate the hurt
John tells us these words of Jesus: "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." Jesus never promises for things to be painless. In fact, he assures us that we will face many trials and sorrows in this world. Life is not easy. Jesus is not a 'get out of the world's pain easy' card. However, Jesus does promise us freedom and hope.
Our joy comes in the anticipation of the promises of God. That through faith in Jesus Christ, we can inherit the gift of eternal life. We can spend an eternity with God where there will be no more pain and suffering.
The pain we experience now is temporary. While it is hard to navigate, it's to be expected. And in order to work through it, we must anticipate the hurt that comes with change.
Jesus promises both hurt and hope. || tweet this ||