One of the biggest questions of the ages is why is there pain, suffering & evil – especially if you believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God. Cody Whittington, ministry director at Shepherd’s Heart, teaches on this topic from John 11 and shares from personal loss to discuss the Christian elements of mystery, movement, and meaning in our grief.
Recorded live at After Hours Ribs & Brew in Belgrade, Montana.
Well, I’m really glad to be here and I’d love to tell you that story and more depth as we get to know each other very cool story. I said no to Montana twice. I tried to try to keep pushing back on God and it just, it was just not what he wanted. So I’m really glad to be here. My wife and I my family and I we love it here and I heard
Somebody moved to Georgia recently from both and I’m like, Hi, Hi, are you doing and I do, I do enjoy it here. We were really glad to be here. And God has been doing some incredible things. Since we’ve been here. And since he shared a little bit about me, I’m not gonna go into too much detail just for time sake. And I would love to grab a coffee with you. If that’s something you’d want to do and get to know you guys a little bit better. I’ve kind of been hanging back last couple of months so I can kind of get to know some of you guys. So if you have your Bibles, if you like you like Do you want to dive into your Bibles? Go to john chapter 11. I’ll meet you there in a minute. And if you would rather walk look at the screen as we walk through a pretty extensive text. Whatever way you best receive information, whether it’s reading or listening, focus in on that we’re going to read a pretty significant passage here in a minute. But the topic we’re talking about tonight is one that’s near and dear and probably more than any other topic has shaped who I am and my faith in Christ. And it has been a it’s been a huge part of my life and my family.
family’s life and my wife and I, Christy, and our two kids. And that’s the topic of grief and loss and and how to engage that and walk through it. So the topic tonight is engaging grief with a good God. And it’s pretty obvious when you look at the world right now we’ve got a lot of crazy things happening. The hurricanes, the the the shooting, you’ve got fires, and you’ve got earthquakes, all sorts of stuff is happening right now. And a lot of people are trying to make sense of it.
A lot of people are trying to figure out what is going on. And this is nothing new tragedies and things that happen all throughout the world. And all throughout history. People try to make sense of suffering. And my hope tonight, I don’t want to try to explain away suffering and as you will not hear my testimony. I don’t know that there’s a good theological, persuasive answer that makes sense of everything nice and then categorized box for us. I know that exists. But I do believe that Christians have the best message, the most comprehensive response and how
walk through some of these tough things and not only globally but personally this has been an intense season for Christina and our family. As we’ve been walking through a season of grief and loss on September on September 23, we landed in Houston, Texas, to go visit my wife’s family. And my wife’s mom is entering into or is in well into stage four of her cancer. And we went down to say basically what will likely be unless God does a Lazarus like miracle might will probably be our goodbyes.
It’s one of the hardest things I ever had to do was to watch my wife say those final words to her and, and try to keep up with her mom as we’re driving away looking out the window. Getting one last glimpse was really tense moment for us.
The day we landed, now, we landed on the 23rd and we stayed a several days but the night we landed, also got a text that my grandpa had passed away from his his battle with cancer.
And in that moment, it was just one of those things where
began to ask these questions begin to have some things going on in my heart really began to wrestle with and trying to figure out how to minister to my wife, but also trying to figure out how to how to grieve that loss all at one time, I’m not able to go to my grandpa’s funeral on distant things are just tense.
We come back.
About a week and a half, two weeks after we get back, I get a call that one of our good family friends decided to take his own life.
And I’m sitting here thinking about like, what the heck is going on? So not only I’m looking at things globally, trying to make sense of things, but we’re also walking through a season, personally.
But once again, I really do believe that Christians have the best response and explanation for why things are the way they are. We don’t answer we don’t have all of our questions answered. But I believe the text that we’re going to look at and john 11
will help us navigate through it a little bit. That’s my hope. And I hope that if you’re in here, you’re a believer, I hope you feel more equipped and encouraged and if you’re not a believer, I pray that you at least have a question.
Starting point to how to think about this through a Christian lens. So let’s pray and we’ll jump in. Father, thank you so much for your word. We thank You for Your grace and mercy. Father, as we dive into a tense topic, just please be with us in your Holy Spirit.
God, we ask that you just bring your presence in a piece in this room, or because I know I’m not the only one walking through junk right now. So Father, just bring peace and clarity and comfort as we walk through this text in Jesus name. Amen. Alright, so it’s a long passage. So we’re going to take a deep breath, and we’re going to work through it. And then we’re just gonna make some observations. I really don’t have a bunch of points for you guys want to make some observations about this tech. So we’re going to read verses one through 46. So let’s take a deep breath. And here we go. He john 11. One.
It says now a certain man was ill Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Marion or sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill so the sister said
him saying, Lord, he whom you love is ill. But when Jesus heard it, he said, this illness does not lead to death and just for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer,
in the place where he was.
Then after this, he said that the disciples, let us go to Judea again. And the disciples said to him, Rabbi,
the Jews were just now seeking to stone you and you’re going there again. Jesus answered, are there not 12 hours in a day if anyone walks in the day he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world. But if anyone walks in night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.
After saying these things, he said to them, our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him. The disciples said to him, Lord, if he is falling asleep, he will recover. Now Jesus had spoken on his
His death, but they thought that human he was taking, taking in a deep sleep.
Then Jesus told them plainly, Lazarus has died. And for your sake, I’m glad that I was not there so that you may believe.
But let us go to him. So Thomas called the twin said his fellow disciples, let us all go, that we may die with him.
Now, when Jesus came, he found Lazarus had already been dead in the tomb for four days, Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him. But Mary remain seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus,
Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you. Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again. And Martha said, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the
Live. Whoever believes in me though he died yet shall he live. And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never died. Do you believe this? She said him.
Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was coming into the world.
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary saying and private, the teacher is here and is calling for you.
And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus did not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her saw Mary rise quickly and go out. They followed her supposing that she was just going to the tomb to weep there. Now, when Mary came to where Jesus was, and she saw him she fell at his feet saying to him, Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her, also weeping, he was deeply moved in the spirit and greatly trouble and he said, Where have you laid him? They said, Lord, come and see.
So the Jews said, see how he loved him.
But some of them said, Could he could not he who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept this man from dying.
Then Jesus deeply moved again came to the tomb, it was a cave and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man said to him, Lord, by this time, there will be an odor for he has been dead for four days. Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God? So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me I know that you always hear me but I said this on the account of the people standing around that they may believe you sent me.
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus come out.
The man who had died, came out to his hands and feet bound with linen strips in his face wrapped with a cloth and Jesus said to them, and bind him and let him go.
The Jews, therefore, who would come with Mary and had seen what he did believed in him, but
some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them what Jesus have done.
Well, that’s all the time we have for tonight.
This is a very,
very interesting text. Now, I truly believe that this text
most clearly expresses the heart of Jesus for those who are brokenhearted
and what he has done to help. And the reason why we read that whole long story is because this is a story that’s not meant to be really taken apart. This is a story that’s meant to be captured all at once. And the climax is of course, Lazarus, Lazarus being raised from the dead, Jesus proving or proclaiming through it, that He is God, that He has the authority over life over death.
And that he is who He says He is and that we can trust them. And now of course, that is the climax.
But just like a movie, you can’t start on the climax game you. You gotta spend some time in the rising action.
Setting into the story, allowing it to seep into your soul allowing it to invade your heart.
That’s what we read the whole text because I want this text to invade our hearts tonight as we talk about this issue. And I really believe that this text reveals the complexity and reality of grief and life. It truly does.
I’m not gonna get into all the details about what did the other religions believe and why they believe what they believe I’m going to be approaching this from a from a Christian worldview strictly. But I found over the last
eight and a half years that Christianity does, in fact, have the most honest, gut wrenching,
nearly heartbreaking, yet true, hopeful and redemptive message when it comes to suffering.
and embrace it tells us it’s a real deal. We have to walk through it, not around it. You can’t avoid it. It’s not an illusion. It’s not meaningless.
sufferings unfair sometimes.
It’s unjust. It’s done at the hands of the unjust.
There’s a really important passage where Jesus says if the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy,
and it’s pretty clear that we live in a world
or one of the primary influences over
it’s not just your neighbor, but the enemy
is wreaking havoc. And we get to choose how we respond to that.
But this text is important because Jesus identifies with us in every single way. And Hebrews four talks about that we don’t have a high priest who can’t sympathize with us. He knows what we’ve gone through. You follow the life of Jesus very quickly, he was born into poverty.
He was rejected by most of the religious leaders, abandoned by his friends put on a cross while he was innocent. His family thought he was crazy.
On the human side of Jesus, what we see is that he cannot
identify with us, Miss Texas, very honest about that. So what I want you to do, I want you to think about a moment of grief and loss that maybe you have experienced in your life, from whatever whatever it is maybe some of you lost a friend, a family member, maybe divorce, maybe,
maybe a financial crisis, maybe a job loss, whatever, whatever that is, whatever moment brought you grief, I want you to allow that for a moment. as men were told this stuff and I don’t want you to stop it. I want you to allow it to come up. And I want you to let it settle for a minute. And think about that. Allow it just to simmer while we talk to this.
three elements I just want to walk through about this text, not going to go through it in depth. If you want to go through this type of stuff in depth, I encourage you to come to sunrise cafe we’re going to be spending eight weeks talking about this, this tough stuff in a couple weeks starting.
But for now, there’s three elements that rise to the surface as I’ll read this, the complexity of mystery, the need for mourning, and the meaning that we find in Jesus
So let’s just go ahead and dive in. I want to start with a question and if you want to engage, you are definitely free to I’ll give you guys a couple seconds to respond. But what are some thoughts? When we’re talking about the complexity
of mystery in our walk with Jesus? What are some when you’ve gone to think about that moment? When you’ve gone through grief? What are some questions
that come up in your mind?
He’s got something
How can God allow it?
Not there. What else?
Why me? How’s this a part of your plan?
Why? How were all these questions surface in our hearts
Honestly, I’ve asked several questions like that myself looking at my mother in law, who’s one of the most godly women and her husband who’ve been primary influences in my spiritual walk. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. The Lord was gracious to lead me to salvation in him but her Christie’s parents are have been hugely influential in my life. And I’m looking at her going, I went, when we first found out we kind of went and visited her. She began to put sticky notes of Psalms and proverbs all over her house. Why her?
Why not honestly, honestly, I think why not this person over here? Why not that person? I could not I can bring you a line of people that I think need to be dealt with. Right.
In this text, their questions are our questions today to
this text is shrouded in mystery. Let’s walk through it for a minute.
The beginning Jesus is told that his one of his best friends is sick. The first five verses make it abundantly clear that Jesus was deeply close with his family.
Upon hearing it Jesus doesn’t go he stays for two days.
Mystery the disciples are confused the Lord, why do you want to go back to Judea where you almost were stoned? You feel people at a distance before? Why not just hear them at a distance? The disciples were confused and concerned.
Something even Thomas was being a little sarcastic. Let’s go die with them.
Another mystery Jesus shows up onto the scene. Martha and Mary have obviously been sitting in this for four days, the first few days of grief are some of the most intense
both of them asked the same question, or in a statement form. Now, it’s not a rebuke. It’s important. We know that they’re not rebuking Jesus.
They have a grieving statement. Only you had been here.
moving a little bit further on? You have a skeptical crowd in the background saying hey, he healed the blind man. Could you not do this? I guess he’s not who He says He is. And the mystery for me that often gets overlooked that we need to pay attention to as I used to look at this. Nice to say
Why did Jesus Why did Jesus raised Lazarus but not my brother who died when I was 13? What happened there?
But I missed it. I didn’t keep reading CPE read john 12, nine and 10. Jesus raised Lazarus just for him to die again.
The same Pharisees that plotted against Jesus and got Jesus on the cross, began to plot against Lazarus because he was a living proof that Jesus is who He says He is. You notice the Pharisees, the religious leaders, no one ever denies the miracles Jesus did no one. They just attributed to something else for someone else.
Why did Jesus raised Lazarus for him to go through that again? mysteries? their questions are our questions.
And what I’ve found a lot of times when I begin to ask these questions like why,
as I’ve walked with others through suffering as I’ve gone through some suffering and some grief and loss, what I found is that when I’m asking the question, why
I’m not really looking for an answer, I’m looking for an escape.
Looking for a way to not have to deal with the reality that things are the way they are.
But the truth is, even if we had the answers, we wouldn’t be satisfied.
You say no, I wouldn’t be satisfied. No, you wouldn’t.
I promise you.
It’s never enough one because as you follow that, as you follow the the whole meta narrative of Scripture, there are very few spots where God actually answers why he’s doing what he’s doing, why he’s allowing what he’s allowing one of the sponsors in a small little book in the Bible called back it.
Back it starts and says, Listen to how he talks to God.
Where are you? Why are you allowing violence? Why is injustice perverted? Are you sitting there doing nothing? What’s going on?
God responds, giving him a detailed layout of everything that’s going to happen. Guess what? still didn’t believe them.
Back nearby it
told exactly what he’s doing we won’t understand it or we won’t even like it.
We live in a culture that obsesses over knowledge and any any type of mystery is not okay. See, for the unbeliever mystery ultimately will lead to misery but for the believer mystery actually leads to meaning.
See, we worship God and a lot of the mystery not in spite of it.
His questions are tense.
And a lot of times Has anybody ever answered you when you’ve asked why?
How’d that go?
Maybe you had a really good pastor maybe had a really good discipleship pastor, maybe you had a really good friend who’s able to help you navigate to that.
Most people get answers like, Well, God just punched this ticket.
Really, God just needed another angel. I mean, think that’s theologically accurate.
We get these comments that are intended to be okay and good.
But they only take us off even more. When I was 13 years old. As I mentioned a minute ago, my brother passed away in a car accident. And I didn’t grow up in a church home. But I was introduced to Jesus by a friend when I was six. And that was the only framework I had for thinking about faith and life. And then, when Jason died, our family was already going through some turmoil because they’d my parents have just split. We have moved states they both remarried really quickly was a really, really tense time in our life. And when my brother died,
I remember people trying to explain to me
why God did what he did, and it only pushed me further and further and further away, because I couldn’t, no way. No.
And it was a
it was a mystery to me.
But ended up moving away from God instead of pressing in
but very rarely
Does the Bible give us reasons why things happen the way they do? Jesus tells us to live in the tension, not solve it.
Across the board
rarely gives us reasons Jesus is more focused about how we respond to the reality that we face when we come with suffering. Every find it find it everywhere very little time is given to Well, the reason for this is that and this is that Jesus says, No, it’s more about the response.
Follow the Bible, follow the New Testament, you’ll find every time that there’s a hard time Jesus is encouraging and provoking a response.
He embraces the real look right here he was john, the author is very careful to say that God did not cause this illness.
There is a high theological debate that we don’t have time to go into about all that, but I will say this this particular text
it seems like John’s making it painfully clear that God did not cause the sickness but rather it’s an occasion through which God will be glorified.
People have got an understand understand their
different perspectives in the room. That’s just my personal taken however on it.
And there’s several other texts that bring it bring out some mystery. But the one thing about this text that I find
is what Jesus has done as we move throughout the story is essentially when he says I’m the resurrection on the life. This is something remarkable when he when he asked Mary or Martha when he says, Do you believe this?
She says, Yes, Lord, I believe Martha is in the darkest moment of her life. She is probably now the head of the household. Her brother is just dead of an illness. And if you know I mean, if you’ve seen that somebody gets sick, you know the pain it is to watch them get sick.
And Jesus says, Do you believe?
Do you believe that’s important? Jesus asked a very important what do you believe not? Do you understand?
You believe not Do you understand?
It’s a prompting for trust and faith that God is who He says He is.
That we can trust him in the mystery.
And basically what I’ll take away from that we always quote proverbs three, lean not on your own understanding, we usually forget that first part, though trust in the Lord, lean not in your own understanding.
And what this text seems to teach me as I’ve walked through some things in the last several months and years is that I can have peace in my heart without having the answer in my head.
Jesus is that good?
And through living in not trying to solve but living in the mystery, we see the need and need for morning which is the second thing that surfaces out of here, guys, this is a very difficult context. Martha and Mary have lost a brother Jesus has lost a friend.
What are some emotions? Don’t try to Don’t try to solve it. Don’t try to go too deep. But what are some emotions that arise? What did it
Feel like in that moment of grief and loss that’s kind of simmering with you right now.
Anger. What else?
just goes on and on and on. It’s an emotional toll when you lose something, and you’re thrown into grief.
So once again, feel that in the story.
I’m not good at morning. This text tells us we need I think we need to mourn. I’m not good at it. I didn’t realize I was good at it until the first year after first year Christian I got married. Soon my brother died. I didn’t know how to respond that had never happened to us. So I detached and my parents let me they didn’t understand how to work through it either. We all were very confused. So that we all deal with it how we how we felt like we should do I detached. I avoided it. I ignored it. I didn’t even go to my brother’s funeral.
walk around with that every day.
What I didn’t realize is that my detachment
became a rhythm in my life.
Moving forward, I didn’t know Geez What kind of didn’t care about Jesus after that? And it was through a pastor who came alongside me and stopped trying to answer my questions and just would sit with me and talk with me, who led me actually to an active trust in Jesus when I was 17. But I still never went back and dealt with issues that I had had in the past ended up getting married at the wise age of 20. And
first year of marriage, we moved away from our family and friends to Austin. We are away from everybody. We knew things were going okay had a little tension in our marriage like anybody else our first year, and then we had a miscarriage.
I never learned how to mourn. So what did I do?
And what I found out is a detached and I tried to avoid it. By the way, that’s a lot of what the non believers or non non non Christian or non or even other religions teach you avoid it, if you can. It’s just not a reality though is it? No matter how hard we work, we can we can avoid it. So I began to avoid it, walked around it tried to walk around it. What I did was I made myself busy because that’s what we do when we’re avoiding something. We make ourselves busy and busy myself in the ministry where I was leading worship, and I was visiting myself in the financial world where I was trying to advance my career and rise to the top and I was doing very well in both having a lot of cool opportunities. Bearing bearing bearing. What I did was I made myself busy, immerse myself in ministry and completely forgot about my wife
came home one day and she said, Cody, it’s either me or ministry.
And I tried to defend myself at first and I’m doing God’s work, right.
I forgot that engineer.
Since the first ministry is actually a marriage
had a little spat over the next day that the Spirit really convicted me it was a God thing because I was not in a place where I would want to receive it. So God broke my heart. We went decided to get counseling, praise God. And we stepped off stepped out of ministry for a couple of years so that I could focus on my marriage and, and get right in that way. And we joined a healthy church, that we had men walking with me and women walking with Christie, things were going well, everything was good, and we learned so much. And that’s where I learned that I’ve detached instead of actually deal with the reality of the pain and suffering in my life.
Not good at morning still.
And in this text,
you see that people mourn differently and that’s okay. People mourn differently. We need to get people to freedom to mourn.
We do men, you guys can mourn. It’s okay.
That’s something for some reason we just don’t do. But they’re all morning differently, but I’ll ask them the same questions. Where were you? Where are you, Martha? She’s, she’s more like me, I process things out. I’m not I’m not really an emotional. I don’t really dive too much into the emotional side of morning until later at first I process things.
I process things kind of like Martha, she begins with theological principles. Jesus says Your brother will rise against you cuz I know he’s gonna rise again on the last day.
Jesus says, No, no, you’re missing the point. Thought about your theological principles. It’s about having a personal relationship with me because in me you have peace here and now life you’re in now. So he moved her from theological principle to personal relationship with Him.
And from that, her theology shifted because you see that she said, You are the Christ, you are the Son of God is coming into the earth.
Start with a personal relationship. But she started with the theological principles trying to make sense of things in her head. But Martha, here comes Martha is done. Here comes Mary onto the scene. She’s processing
things not with their head, but with her heart. She’s before Jesus, where were you
notice Jesus meets them right where they are. he engages Martha on that principle level. And I’m talking about kind of the theology behind the stuff. He meets with Mary by weeping with Mary. And then he even meets with by this or meets the skeptics where they are by guess what doing a public profession saying, hey, just in case, I’m going to say, I’m going to shout out publicly to God, because you want you need to see that this is him doing it. This is what I am capable of as the Son of God. So it makes a public profession so that the skeptics will even see and we see that it works because some of them believe
he meets people where they are in their morning.
So everyone’s morning in this text, even Jesus, it says twice that he was deeply troubled in his spirit
greatly troubled twice.
You don’t have to dig too deep to find out that this these words, deeply troubled in the spirit has greatly trouble. This really has the sense if you if you trace it through their lives.
And through its original uses, what you find is that these terms actually describe the snorting of an angry animal about to charge.
But doesn’t sound right in our English and say Jesus snorted, right?
But it’s as if Jesus, and this can happen internally or externally. Jesus is about to charge death. That’s what’s happening here.
He’s looking at the situation. He is deeply grieved deeply troubled, because humanity has been wrought with sin. God has stepped into humanity in and through Jesus, and he is experiencing the weight of the of the things that we feel.
This is bigger than just what’s happening with Lazarus. We know this because when it says Jesus wept, the word for wept is different than the word that is used when it talks about Mary weeping, the word that’s used for Jesus weeping, it actually there it actually means, the type of lament that we see before a calamity.
It is not just hears it is a it is a deep passionate almost you can say
A universal sense of feeling the weight of the world on him, and he’s angry at death. He’s angry at the stuff that’s going on and he charges death he charges for the cross. This is the last. This is the moment that provokes the Pharisees to get him to the cross. This is the last time that Jesus is addressed as Rabbi or teacher by his disciples because in a couple months, he’s going to be on the cross.
This is a moment. This is his William Wallace Braveheart moment.
He’s feeling the weight.
about this. There’s so much foreshadowing Lazarus come out because I’m going in. That’s how I read that.
He calls Lazarus out. He’s going to step in.
It’s an illustration for us to understand.
That grief, death all that doesn’t really have a hold on us.
If we are in Christ Jesus has gone in so that we don’t have to.
Does that remove the reality of death here and now? No.
Does make life easy? No.
But through this through understanding how Jesus is morning, and how he sets an example for us that guess what we can be angry at death. It’s okay. I used to feel guilty as a young believer making trying to make sense of my emotions as I’m trying to work through the grief that I was experiencing.
It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be frustrated. I’m confident enough in this what Jesus is teaching us here to say that we can get angry at death, we can be mad.
And I think that the reason why death always hurts if you’re ever to a point where death doesn’t hurt, you have become indifferent and that is not healthy.
But the reason why death hurts so much.
The last nine years I’ve been in ministry I’ve watched young teenagers take their last breath their parents, pull the plug
I’ve seen three students commit suicide, the room and I’ve never gotten used to it every time it drives me to a point where I’m like, uncomfortable. I can’t say anything, neither can Jesus so he weeps.
But death always hurts and will hurt on this side of life because I honestly believe we were not designed for death we were designed for life. Death is an intruder, it is a disruption to what God has created within us. And the fact that we get outraged by death is proof that our souls cry out and call out for something beyond ourselves. And I believe that that longing to have that life was put there by the Lord. And until we meet Jesus until we come to a point of active trust in Jesus, that longing of our heart will never be satisfied, has to be connected with the Lord who established
in Christ that our morning
is giving a deeper sense of meaning.
I know plenty of people who are not believers who have gone through grief who have gone through death and they have made it okay.
let’s say I don’t need them I made it Okay, I’ll tell you that there’s a deeper level that you can tap into in Jesus that you can’t get anywhere else that makes your morning meaningful.
But it’s okay to be angry.
I had to I had to make sense of that. After we had our after we had our first miscarriage got out of ministry spent some time out, we found ourselves back in ministry.
We had we had two kids in between coven Maggie, they’re pretty awesome kids.
Things are going well, we get pregnant again.
Our third and we actually been talking about this when our first two weren’t planned God plan that we didn’t.
This one we’ve been talking about praying for. We get pregnant.
we go into the doctor’s office, everything is things good yours too soon to see anything. Everything’s fine. Just come back next week. You’ll see a heartbeat by that time.
We go in. We don’t see a heartbeat next week. This is Mother’s Day weekend and they tell us your miscarry.
And on Mother’s Day weekend summer we get on my hands and knees one God, please do not do this on Mother’s Day please not stain Mother’s Day with this on my wife for the rest of her life.
We got with the church and we begin to pray that God would do a miracle because I still believe he does miracles. So we are praying for a miracle God move God move God move. And I’ve been told God God if if you’re wanting to give us life, let there be a heartbeat. Lord, if you’re not wanting to give us life here, then let there not be a heartbeat. let it pass. Let’s just move on. Please.
We go into the doctor the next week, we see a heartbeat
of the coolest moment of our life.
Doctors were confused. Everyone was confused. We were confused. We call our friends Eric has a heartbeat. There was supposed to be a heartbeat that she’s already supposed to have the miscarriage.
The doctor is like well, babies I mean it’s healthy heartbeat and strong heartbeat. This is okay. Wow.
We go to the church we started celebrating the folks and the next day Christy had a little pain in her sides. We took her in Doctor said, well, the heartbeat still there. Let’s go ahead and run some tests just in case and the next day was Friday. We’re approaching our anniversary weekend and getting ready to go out of town. And I’m saying some final words so our pastor and one of my friends and I’ve noticed that and see my wife saw step onto the hallway in the hallway is kind of across the room from the bathroom, and I hear my wife sobbing
exactly what that meant.
She was in the girls bathroom, drop my stuff. I ran into the girls bathroom.
I sat down with her and I was all this emotion. I didn’t know was it okay to feel I don’t. I begin to pray
over Christie verbally pray over her while she was sobbing, trying to make sense of this.
And she did miscarry. A few days later.
Something happened in that moment though. That didn’t happen in miscarriage one. I was with her.
She was with me. We were praying in the midst of it. We were morning together and our our faith was reinforced because of it.
Our commitment to God our commitment to one another had grown immensely between miscarriage one and miscarriage to an in between miscarriage one and miscarriage two
while we were out of ministry
came home one day we had a spot on Christy’s leg that we were fearful about.
took her to the doctor.
couple days later they give us a call see Christie Crimean
Scott malignant melanoma
pregnant in her second trimester
at that point in time
I didn’t know how to respond but I responded the best I knew how we got out some oil. I didn’t know anything about healing and oil and all that type of stuff I said as in the Bible we’re going to do
we prayed over her we put some will on her head. We just pray, pray, pray, pray, pray.
Whenever the doctor the doctors, like it’s a decent size, I can’t tell you anything until I get in there and take it out. So I went in there and took it out.
And praise god she made it through and she’s cancer free.
Two weeks later, we went to go find out a cove is a boy or girl.
Find out that he’s going to be born with some cranial facial deformities is going to need surgery.
Are you kidding me?
But something happened between miscarriage when a miscarriage to in and through both of those moments deep moments of grief. Those things threw us into intense morning confusion, but it caused us to press into God. It caused some other grief and other areas it It took a financial toll on us.
That we’re still recovering from today.
But God strengthened us as we mourn. And I think that’s what Jesus is teaching us here. Because Blessed are those who are comforted for they are blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. That’s a promise. That’s not a statement. That’s a proclamation.
And one scholar argues that the word for Blessed is actually
is actually the best word for happy Rather, he argues, is flourishing.
flourishing are those who mourn for they will be comforted. See morning provides the context for you to meet God and for you to grow
need for morning.
So we can be angry, I was angry, you can be upset, I was upset. You can be mad at death because we weren’t designed for it.
And you cry out to God.
Let’s move on to the last thing through morning. We will
do find meaning in Christ.
See, when we get to the meaning part, I’m not talking about what What’s the meaning of this god, I’m talking about moving from Why did you do this to God? How are you going to use this?
Why did this happen? How are you going to use this? That’s what I’m talking about. you uncover meaning in the midst of grief and suffering by beginning to shift your perspective a little bit. Do you realize that, that Jesus was trying to get the disciples to shift their perspective about death?
When you use the word asleep? Do you guys realize that he was trying to shift Martha and Mary’s perception of who he was a saying I am the resurrection in the life. This whole was Jesus trying to shift our perspective on things.
So we need to shift our perspective. I’m strongly encouraged and there is a time and a place for the y and to have those in depth theological conversations and philosophical conversations. I’m all for that not saying that elected. But William Abraham, he’s one of the brightest theological minds in our country riding over the one lamenting of his son says there is no persuasive theological answer for why
Those types of things happen.
And I agree with it. And he goes on to say the reason why you don’t sit there and try to explain away things
want to try to find meaning in it is because we are so emotionally overwhelmed in those moments that we cannot cognitively receive it. Well, it takes some time.
There was a time in a place. I think that’s what Jesus was actually silent. He never responded to their mystery questions. Instead, he moved close to him.
So the question is, how how does God bring good out of our grief? Have you guys noticed that when tragedy happens, suffering happens all of a sudden everybody wants to know where God is.
I think that’s part of how God uses it. He awakens our souls to contemplate the deeper things of life in the midst of tragedy and suffering and loss.
It’s an occasion for him to move
I would not choose to go through any of the crap that we’ve gone through.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The what I feel like I’m learning haven’t arrived Far from it.
I feel like I’m learning
is that God has used every bit of the grief, the loss, the suffering, the turmoil to fashion something else.
Where the enemy was throwing fire at us, trying to melt us down God like a potter puts us in the allows us to go in the furnace to harden us as in our faith.
Think about that. There’s two stuff. There’s two parts. There’s two parts of the pottery process. There’s the molding.
And what’s the next step?
the side effect for living in a broken world and things break but the good news is
Jesus uses those broken things and move them fixes them and uses that trial to strengthen our faith to fortify our faith.
If we press enough, pull away
are we making space for that?
So he uses it to awaken our souls to contemplation, and he strengthens our devotion and dependency on him. That’s something I’ve learned during the during the second miscarriage is how deeply dependent Christian I had become on him. I didn’t even realize it until after the fact
that we responded completely differently than we did the first time.
Each time we’re walking through stuff, we’re uncovering God at a deeper level.
And I can’t tell you that if something happened tomorrow that I wouldn’t call into question everything. I can’t. I probably would, because I’m a skeptic by nature.
But I can tell you that he is good and we can trust him.
And in Christ, the meaning is completely our perspective, once again, has shifted from the Y to the how and then we get to see what God does
You see in Christ, we do not grieve like those who have no hope, as Paul would say. And he’s you know that every time Paul talks about faith, hope and love, not every time but majority The time is almost in the context of suffering.
Do a do a search on some of those words and find out what’s actually happening when Paul’s talking about some of that
good amount of time and some of the intention, it’s under the context of suffering green.
You see, in Christ, we are spiritually brought to life because he is the resurrection and like what Jesus was saying is that you can have heaven as it you can have heaven as
in you right now. Like there’s a there’s a part of heaven on earth as it is in heaven. Right now. I am the resurrection I’m not isn’t say hey, I’m going to be resurrected and a couple days, come back and talk to me then.
I’ll see them. Hey, I’m not going to be coming back to life and and I’m going to be coming back to life in a couple days. Not until then. So just we’ll talk them about all this stuff. He doesn’t say that. He says I am. The resurrection. I am the life
and how old
All of these things kind of come together in this story.
How the mystery of the comp of the complexity of the mystery how the need for our morning and how the meaning that we find in Christ come together really hinges upon this, this right here.
Do you believe?
Do you believe?
Not? Do you understand?
I love that the Bible is honest enough to tell us that we don’t have to understand
all these other worldviews trying to make sense of it. And to me, they all fall completely short and they are bankrupt.
you trust God?
He sees things completely from a different perspective. Much like when I take my kids to get their yearly shots, they’re in pain and they have no idea why I’m doing that to them as a father now, right
know there’s some debate there too. Don’t get your kid shots, okay, whatever.
Don’t send me an email. Don’t talk to me about that, please. I will respond.
But like a father knows what’s best for his kids who don’t know what’s best for them. Our Father in Heaven knows what’s best for us when we when we think we do and we think we don’t.
He knows what’s best. Is the I’m the resurrection in the life. He proclaimed this, and then he proved it through His resurrection.
That’s the beauty of it. So the big question I want to close with tonight, as do do we trust him in the mystery? Do we trust him with our morning? Do we trust him with our meaning?
And a couple points. really brief. I’m not giving you I’m not giving you the a lot of stuff because people mourn differently, but just some tangible things that I’ve learned and learning. As you walk through grief as you walk through morning. Learn to mourn well by being with God. The
In his word, and being with others, and Philippines for 13 is I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, right? The famous copy covers. But
the next passage says, but you were kind to share my sufferings. Paul was writing that in the context of suffering and persecution.
It was kind of you to share in my suffering since I’ve been here. And since we’re going through what we’re going through, Daniel and Doug and their families have surrounded me
and have been encouraging to me. They cried with me, the guys at sunrise cafe. On Wednesday morning, surround me pray for me. And comfort me.
Bob Swan who I had no really relationship with before I got here.
Text Message I’m thinking about you. I’m praying for you. I’m praying for Christie teller. We love her.
Got it. Thank you for sharing in my suffering.
It’s meaningful. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me but it was kind of you to share
Paula saying, I can do all things that need in Christ, but I also need you.
Be with God.
Be in His Word. Figure out how he speaks to you and audibly through His Word.
When you’re being with God, that means prayer and worship and meditation. And when you’re being in community, open yourself up. And if you’re not going through something, be that person who shares in this suffering.
Live in the mystery, don’t try to solve it and don’t give up on miracles. Don’t give up on miracles. God still does incredible things. Some of you guys have seen some of those things. I think the heartbeat that we saw in that miscarriage, I think it was a miracle. You know why? Because God knows me. He knows that if he would have answered my prayer and said, when I said, Hey, just let it happen if it’s going to happen, he knows that if that would have happened, I would have became a different.
When I saw the heartbeat, I felt like I was saying later, not now, but I’m in this with you. That was a miracle.
Don’t give up on the miracle
lasting look to the Lord. He comes close to us as we grieve. God came close to us in Jesus, Jesus came close to those who are mourning and he has come even closer to us in His Spirit that dwells within us. If we are in Christ, in the Spirit intercedes with us, and we have no words to say when we’re suffering.
So the questions I want you to just unpack for a few minutes during Table Talk, do we trust them with the mystery? Do we trust them with the morning? Do we trust them with the meaning? Should we trust them?
kind of discuss some of those things.
And if once again, if you want to go grab a cup of coffee, if you want to hang out, I would love to hear your story. Because your stories encouraged me.
And I need that too.
So let me pray for you guys. Let me pray for the rest of the night. And then we’ll have some Table Talk. Father, thank you so much for your word. God help us as we mourn. Help us as we try to live in the mystery help us as we try to find meaning in Christ. I thank you for your word. Be with us in these few moments of conversation in Jesus name. Amen. Thanks, guys.
Thank you for listening.
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