Well…I certainly hope that you took Jesus’ Holy Week journey with your church family as we worshiped on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then again on Easter. If you missed any of these you can go to royred.org/sermon-unveiled-grace/ and watch them.
As I reflect on the fact that…the worst thing that ever happened (Jesus death on Good Friday) turned out to be the best thing that ever happened! (on Easter…for us sinners), I want to ask you 2 questions.
What was the worst thing that ever happened in the history of the world (beside Jesus death)? Maybe you would say the holocaust, 9-11 attacks, 1st or 2nd world war, famine, bubonic plague?
Did God create those things? Well…Genesis 2 says that God created a perfect world and Genesis 3 says that sinful man ruined it, and the rest of the Bible is the story of God’s Love for us in spite of our sinfulness. It would seem out of character that He caused those events!
The second question is, what is the worst thing that has happened to you personally in your lifetime? Maybe abuse, illness, broken relationship, bankruptcy, coronavirus and its collateral damage? Did God cause those things to happen? John 3:16 reminds us that God loves you so much that Good Friday happened for you! And Romans 8 reminds us that nothing can separate you from His Love! This does not sound like a God trying to hurt you or ruin your life. Let God speak to you as you look up and read those verses and the verses around them up.
So then…what do we make of the pain and junk that we have to face in this less that perfect world? Where is God in those moments? Doesn’t He care?
Many of you are parents who love your child and would never purposely hurt your child…and yet we know that they will get hurt at some point. As a parent your job is not to wrap them in bubble wrap and lock them in their room. Your job is to love them, guide them, comfort them and help them learn from the issues they face, to become all that God created them to become.
Now…it is hard for us to comprehend when we are in the midst of a bad season of life, but God says that He will bring good out of all situations. John 8:28 … And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Life can seem tough…make no sense…we want to say “stop the ride and let me off”! I want to share one of my favorite stories. I don’t know who wrote it, many have claimed it as theirs. It is called – THE STORY OF THE TEACUP.
There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery, especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They were in this one shop when they saw a beautiful teacup. They said, “We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.” As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke. “You don’t understand,” it said. “I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just red clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Let me alone,’ but he only smiled and said, ‘Not yet.’” “Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting dizzy?’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’ “Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I didn’t understand why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’ “Finally the door opened. He put me on the shelf and I began to cool. ‘There, that’s better,’ I said. But then he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. ‘Not yet.’ “Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, but not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, ‘Not yet.’ Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. “But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later He handed me a mirror, and I couldn’t believe it was me. ‘Wow. I’m beautiful.’” “‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you would have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; and you would not have had all this beautiful color. And if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t survive for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”
Maybe you feel like that teacup and life seems more than you can handle. Maybe you have the coronavirus, or a loved one does. Maybe you are in quarantine. Maybe you are alone and feeling lonely isolated from friends and family. Maybe you have lost your job, your investments, your business. Maybe “staying home” means chaos, violence, relationship issues. Maybe you miss your church family and public worship.
First of all….God did not create the virus or anything that is evil! That would be against His very character! And yet…the good news is that God promises to bring good out of what seems painful, evil, and is not the way we would have planned it. I don’t know what good will come out of this coronavirus situation we are all facing, but perhaps we will appreciate the things we took for granted, maybe we will slow down and smell the roses, maybe we will spend more time with family, have quiet time alone with the Lord, value our public worship. Maybe we will be kinder to others. Live a life of generosity.
The teacup story reminds me of the image found in Isaiah 64:8… yet you, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
God the potter has you in His loving hands…forming you into who He handmade you to be. He is with you in any tough times you may be facing.
What I do know is that each of us will have to face trouble, pain, issues as long as we are on this earth…but I also know that Good Friday and Easter seal the deal that we will spend eternity in a place with absolutely no viruses, hospitals, funeral homes, relationship issues, money worries, or sin!
Let me know if I can help 440-237-7958 ext.118