Let us pray; Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ we come before you in this place of worship to obtain your life giving water. Please refresh our spirit with your forgiveness and constant love. Help us to receive your word that it may direct our thoughts and actions. In your name we pray. Amen.
I’m sure each of you has seen the tragic events of the last few weeks unfold in great detail on your television screens, over the internet, in newspapers, through tweets on your phones or through Facebook. The tragedies in Boston, Texas and other locations remind us of the fragility of our lives and how quickly they can be forever changed.
On a mildly foggy Sunday morning in late April a mother, father and their son were driving their family van down a country road to attend their regular church services. Coming from the other direction a Ford 150 pickup truck started to cross the double yellow line. The family van veered toward the shoulder of the road in an attempt to avoid a head on collision but the pickup continued across the yellow line and struck the family van head on, striking the driver side door post. As a result of the collision the front axle of the pickup was dislodged and ripped free of the truck, the van’s front wheel drive engine and axle were torn from their position and the driver’s side of the van was caved in. The mother and son sustained some cuts and bruising that were treated to heal in a few days; the father, who was the driver of the van, had a collapsed lung, shattered ribs (nearly puncturing his heart), compound fracture to his leg, puncture wound breaking the lower leg, fractured elbow, fractured wrist, hyper extended shoulder, glass embedded in various places on his body and various cuts and abrasions. The father was to spend 8 weeks in the hospital and another year in recovery. Later it was learned the driver of the pickup truck had spent the night before the accident at his to be brother in laws bachelor party drinking the night away and driving home on that fateful Sunday morning.
All of these events can crush lives, causing such grief and turmoil that they never recover. But these events can also become the vehicles that allow God to enter in and change lives forever. How can we assure ourselves that we can withstand great difficulty in life? Is it even possible? I say we need to fill our spiritual canteens with the life giving water. When we enter into deserts of destruction and upheaval we can be more prepared to survive. The deserts to be survived might not be our own but that of a close friend or family member.
In John 7:37 Jesus said; “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
We as mere mortals are not able to know the mind of God except through the teaching we have been given through scripture. Scripture opens our minds to the mind of God and says that during times of great distress we will not be alone; our hearts will be filled with rivers of living waters; filled with God’s love and spirit that reassures us of a greater good as the purpose for our lives.
Psalm 16: verse 8 we read
8 I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Psalm 23: 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
2 Corinthians 4: 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4: 16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
These verses give us great strength, lifting our spirits during the darkest of times. Over and over again we hear stories of great pain that turns into God’s spirit of great joy being brought to others.
This week we heard about the man with a boat in his back yard. One of the Marathon bombers was found hiding in his boat, the man called police and gun fire ensued and his boat was shot full of holes. People felt sorry for the man and raised funds to buy him a new boat. The man has turned the funds over to help the victims of the bombing. He could have enjoyed a new bigger boat, because he had really loved his boat, but God led him to love his neighbors; those in greater need.
In our lives we are faced with many difficult situations; family relationships that fall apart, jobs that have been lost, personal health that fails. How do we continue on through these difficulties?
Scripture helps us giving us direction and reassurance as in
Our Epistle lesson from Revelation 21:1-6 which reads;
I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
We have only a few choices when difficulties or calamities strike us; we can give up and sit on the side of the road and let life go by, we can become cynical and pull those around us into the deserts we are contending with or we can trust in God to be with us to provide the spring of the water of life that will assure us we are not alone.
How do we reach out to God during the difficult times; we are given His word. Through His word we are reassured of His love for us. That He is always present with us. The man that laid in ICU for a week and then spent another seven weeks in the hospital and the next year in recovery experienced God’s presence in the hospital room while praying and reading daily scripture. God gave healing to the man and changed his life forever. The man went on to go to seminary and serve in missions, hospitals and hospices bringing the life giving water to thirsty people. God has received such glory through the life giving water that fills many people’s lives and is shared during times of difficulty.
God calls each of us today to drink from scripture, to leave the deserts of our lives and experience the great joy of lives that love each other. We are afforded such lives as a result of the sacrifice our savior Jesus made on the cross; dying for our sins, rising from the dead conquering death and sin and ascending into heaven where He makes a place for us where no one will be thirsty and no one will ever experience the deserts found in our earthly lives. God bless each of you today and always.