1 Corinthians 13 Psalm 23
I usually do not preach a sermon on what is in the news. Oh, I may refer to items here and there in a sermon. But I have not made it a practice to change a sermon because of what is going on in the world around the church.
But today is different. It is not often, thank God, that tragedy hits a community. After speaking with Vaughn-Guynn Funeral home, there has not been a tragedy like this house fire in our community that anyone can remember. I am glad there has not been anything like this tragedy in our community. And I don’t want any community to ever have to go through a tragedy like this house fire.
The devastating fire that claimed the lives of Dominique, Ryleigh, and Randy has affected many people. When their parents bury them, we will see members of law enforcement, firemen, EMT’s, neighbors, teachers, community members and extended family paying their respects. Over time, people’s memories will begin to fade. Yet we know that the survivors will remember.
With all that is going on after this house fire, how does our faith in God get the community through to where we aren’t hurting? How does our faith in God help us as we mourn after any tragedy? What can God’s Word do for us in these and all trying times?
A. We know that there is faith in God
1. This faith in God is living
2. This faith in God recognizes how God leads us (Psalm 23)
3. Faith in God is aware of God’s promises (he does not leave or forsake us)
4. Faith in God knows that God is aware of our life and death (Psalm 116:15)
5. Faith in God is important. Without faith in God, then we could be like everyone else in this world. We could start placing blame for this and all tragedies, even if we don’t know the facts. Without faith in God, then we could say, “I know how you feel. Your loved one is in a better place. This is God’s will. At least he is not suffering. God won’t give you what you can’t handle.” (Franklin, Lee. A Pastor’s Practical Guide to Funerals, (Abingdon Press, Nashville;2013)) For our faith in God helps us not to lie about our knowing how someone is feeling. For our faith in God is not about diminishing life here and now. For our faith in God is not telling what God’s will is, when we don’t even know God’s will many times for ourselves For our faith in God is not minimizing someone’s grief just to make them or us feel better at the moment. For our faith in God is not about forgetting that God is with us, even when tragedy strikes. Our faith in God is alongside our hope in God.
B. We know that there is hope in God
1. Hope in God is shown by trusting God for peace and protection
2. Hope in God is evident by our following where he leads us (Psalm 23)
3. Hope in God is expecting God to come through for us
a. Even if we suffer, we hope
b. Even if it takes a while, we hope
c. Even if life changes us, we hope
d. Even if life disappoints us, we hope (Romans 5:1-5)
e. Faith in Christ Jesus enables us to have hope – for Christ is with God, and that is where we want to be
4. Hope in God is patiently waiting for God’s deliverance to arrive
5. Hope in God is our expectation and our desire for more than this life gives us. Hope in God is important. It means we do not rely on ourselves, but that we rely on God himself. Just as Jesus depended upon God for his life, even life after death, so can we. When that hope seems to be shattered, we realize that at that moment, just as we say there is no hope, we are still alive. We can continue to hope, because we live. And for those who have gone on before us, we continue to hope in God for their deliverance. Why would we maintain this hope?
C. We know that with God, we love and live
1. God is love (1 John)
2. We give, because we love
3. The Love of God guides our rising and our going to bed
4. The Love of God can fill us
5. The Love of God can never end
6. Because God has loved us, we can love. When everything in life is tumultuous, God is still loving us. When we are spent emotionally, God continues to love us. When we don’t have the words, God continues to love us. That is the time, when we don’t have words to say, that we need to say nothing. It is better to love our neighbors without words than to speak like Job’s friends. For when Job’s friends spoke, they sinned and did not love.
It is our faith in God that can get us through tragedies. For it is God who is with us when the world is falling apart around us.
It is our hope in God that can get us through tragedies. For it is our hope in God that gives us reason to keep on living.
It is our love of God that can get us through tragedies. For it is God’s love that enables us to keep on loving.
If we have to say anything to those who are grieving, for any reason, then let us speak our faith, hope, and love that is in God. We can say: “How very sad. This makes no sense. How devastating. Your whole world has collapsed. Oh, this is awful. So, you are feeling God has turned his back on you.” For then we would speak the truth to what we have heard from the grieving people. It is through the truth that the grieving people will know that our faith, hope, and love is in God. And maybe, the grieving people can find faith, hope, and love in God.