Sunday, November 11, 2018

 

Scripture: Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV
 
 
Subject: "When your Struggles Become a Blessing"
 
 
 
I: World War II Veteran Francis Turner of Winder, Ga admits that he has lived a life plagued with challenges. In an interview with the local news television station, Turner shared the struggles and challenges he has had to overcome. Turner sustained a severe head and knee injury in the war. He has battled and continues to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). He's faced homelessness on several occasions, raised three children with Down syndrome and has buried all of his children and his wife. Yet Mr. Turner testifies that despite his countless ups and downs, at 96 years old he believes dedicating his life to helping and serving others has actually helped him to fend off bouts of anxiety and depression connected to PTSD. 
 
 
 
II: The book of Lamentation offers us a picture of the deep grief that the prophet Jeremiah dealt with as a result of his struggles and catastrophe. The word "Lamentation" means, "an expression of sorrow and mourning." The book of Lamentations is a book of 5 poems that lament the fall of Jerusalem. The first poem or lamentation (Chapter 1) ends with a prayer in which the people cry out for God's judgment against their enemies. The second poem or lamentation (Chapter 2) involves Jeremiah blaming God's wrath and anger on the false prophets. Jeremiah also places a portion of the blame on the people. In the third poem or lamentation (Chapter 3) Jeremiah shares how God has afflicted him personally. What transpires in the third poem is something not seen in the rest of the book. The first 18 verses is nothing but an expression of grief, struggle and pain. However, in the midst of talking about nothing but struggle and pain, the shift of the text occurs when out of nowhere, Jeremiah's grief and struggle changes to joy. The shift occurs when Jeremiah starts reflecting upon God's goodness rather than his struggles and grief. At that point, his struggles become a blessing. 
 
 
 
 
 
III: Our struggles become a blessing because our struggles help us.........
 
 
 
#1) To Rediscover our Hope 
 
 
-In the midst of recalling all of his struggles, it appears that Jeremiah unearth hope that was probably buried some where beneath all of his struggles and afflictions. 
 
 
 
-Hope was rediscovered when Jeremiah started remembering God's love.
 
 
 
-When Jeremiah went through the list of all the stuff he had dealt with, he realized how blessed he was to still be able to talk about it. 
 
 
 
-Cornell West in his book "Race Matters" introduced a term called nihilism. West noted: "the major enemy of Black survival in America has been and is neither oppression nor exploitation but rather the nihilistic threat- that is, loss of Hope and absence of meaning. For as long as Hope remains and meaning is preserved, the possibility of overcoming oppression stays alive."
 
 
 
 
 
#2) To experience the Diversity of God
 
 
-Jeremiah's despair was replaced by a beautiful affirmation of hope in spite of struggle and suffering. 
 
 
 
-Jeremiah is no longer talking about God being cruel and absent. He's now talking about God being faithful and loyal. 
 
 
 
-What Jeremiah discovers during his struggles is that God is much more than just a deliverer!
 
 
 
-We have to learn how to celebrate a God who will not always deliver us, yet God will always make sure we have what we need to handle what he won't deliver us from. 

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