This world is messed up. Cars blowing up along with buildings and people. People walking around shooting people and kids. People thinking they are serving their god by killing themselves and other people. Corrupt governments mismanaging their countries resulting in people and children starving to death. Perhaps you are feeling a little uncomfortable watching on your television 11 million people starve to death in Africa. But do you realize that Africa is not the only place with drought? It is however the only place with people dying from it.
I look to my local community and see the same sort of suffering. People who have the responsibility to protect citizens shooting those they are meant to protect. I look at my local news and I am shocked to see the suffering people are causing people. There are stabbings, shootings, muggings, and other such actions where the strong are forcing themselves upon the weak. What else can we expect from a world and societies that are infected with such self-absorbed character based on a "me" mentality? It's all rather depressing.
However, I don't have to look to the messed up world or my messed up city to find suffering and misery. I don't have to look any further than the mirror. I look at my own life and see how I have affected many of the people I know. Left on my own I have managed to do good to some and cause harm to others. There are people suffering because of my "me" mentality, too selfish and self-absorbed to even realize the harm I was inflicting on others. In my mind I have always been a nice guy, a good guy, kind, compassionate, patient and loving. But as I take a survey of the people I "love" I see many hurts, pain, and wounds that I have inflicted. At least that is how the enemy wants me to see things on this Saturday morning. He wants to make sure that I see all my sins and the hopelessness of my life and this world. He wants to make sure that I don't do anything other than go back to bed and pull the covers up over my head.
Yes, I can sit here on this new Saturday morning and choose to be self-absorbed in my sufferings and pity party. I can look at this world and allow it to depress me. I can allow the sins and mistakes of my past to haunt me and dictate to me today. Or ...I can praise my Lord Jesus that he can make beauty from ashes.
The greatest thing we have as we start today is hope. Not hope as the world understands but hope in the certainty of God's promises. Such hope prevents us from drowning in this suffering world, keeps our head above the circumstances of our life and saves us from our own misery. It brings light to darkness and allows us to see that God is not satisfied to allow sin to dictate or for the enemy to have his way. He called us overcomers for a reason, greater than conquerors. God has a plan and he is working that plan.
Do you realize that when Jesus was sent he was sent with a purpose? His task was to caste out demons, preach the good news and to die on the cross. His task did not include healing the physical sufferings of this world. But as Jesus walked in the midst of a lost and suffering humanity, his compassionate heart compelled him to reach out and heal. There was no other purpose to it than an act of love and compassion. This is God's heart exposed to us. This is the reason he has never given up on us. This is the reason he has pursued us even when we have rejected him. He is simply reaching out to a suffering humanity, out of his great compassion and love. We have a choice, to remain in our suffering or to receive the hope he has held out to us.
I have a choice this morning, to pull the blanket of the darkness of depression around me and suffer in my day, or to throw open the windows of my heart to the light that the Lord brings to us in his love. He holds out to us forgiveness, mercy, grace and the power for us to do the same with other people. He has the power to restore relationships, heal wounds, relieve suffering, light the darkness, to show us hope. This is what I read in Psalm 47. In all that was going wrong in the world at that time the psalmist reminded himself of the authority of God:
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted. (Psalm 47:7-9)
We must never forget the sovereignty our Father. This world may have been abducted by a false prince but that false prince cannot even come close to the brilliance of our holy God, the LORD God Almighty. Our world suffers because it has chosen to suffer. It's roots are rotten from sin and there is no way it can help itself but Jesus holds out a healing hand of compassion and love. Even our own lives can become a source of great hope and healing as we allow him to change our perspective and way of feeling and seeing. We can make the decision to be part of the problem, suffering in our misery, or, part of the solution, trusting God and living a life of hope.
The decision is in your hands this morning. This can be one of the best days in your life or it can be just another day of misery. You can focus on all the negative things in your life or you can turn your gaze upwards and praise the One who has given you life, hope and love. You can either resign yourself to the lost state of this world and be overwhelmed by its suffering or you can rise up in the power of God's love and compassion, to reach out with that power to bring relief to the suffering. You can simply give up or you can trust the one who has showered us in promises. The choice is yours today. Who will you serve?