my father and I are in the process of going through a series of messages on the
Be Happy Attitudes. Because I'm convinced that God wants us to be happy and
that's the message of Jesus' message from the very beginning. His greatest
sermon that He ever preached says, "Blessed. Blessed. Blessed. Blessed.
Blessed. Blessed. And blessed."
here care to have a blessing this morning? You want to feel the blessings from
God you're at the right place. Because I am convinced beyond a shadow of a
doubt that God wants us to feel His blessings today. And yet there's times
where it becomes very difficult for us to comprehend that God really wants to
bless us. I mean we look at the news and just this past week you have the
horrific fire in Rhode Island, and before that you had the stampeded in Chicago
and before that you have this space shuttle and we could go on and on and on
and on and on.
And we look at life around us and we hear the reports of cancer and we hear the
reports of other fatal diseases and we see the tragedies that take place in
this world today and it's easy to be discouraged. But then we hear these words
of Jesus. These incredible, powerful words.
"blessed are those who
He's not talking just about those who have a period of sadness for a little
while. You know the word in Greek is actually "kontheo," which means
the ultimate form of grief. There's about 9 different stages of grief that they
have in the New Testament. They have words for every one of these different
stages of grief, depending upon whether it's just "I stubbed my toe and
I'm grieving my toe," to "someone very dear has passed and my heart
Well this form is the very deepest form of grief. In fact, Richard Trench who
wrote the synopsis of the New Testament put it this way.
"It is to grieve with the grief which so takes possession of the
whole being that it cannot be hid."
grief Jesus is talking about is that heart wrenching, gut twisting horror that
takes place when we see evil and we see tragedy, or we feel something ripped
from our hands, something precious and dear, and we feel that pain.
I'll never forget the grief that I experienced in this congregation in July of
2002. Just a few months ago this cathedral was packed. Packed with thousands of
people grieving. People came from all over this county, they couldn't even get
in the cathedral, they were lined outside the windows and they're peering
through the windows trying to see, trying to participate. Because this county
was grieving the death of a 5 year old child, was abducted, molested, killed and
thrown on the side of the street, Samantha Runnion. And people cried and they
grieved and Jesus says,
"Blessed are those who
mourn for they shall be comforted."
have the promise that we are blessed, that we can be happy, that God is
comforting us. But the question still resounds and people still ask the
question, why? Why God do You allow the fires to burn? Why God do You allow the
stampedes to take place? Why God do You allow cancer to prevail? Why God do You
allow AIDS to continue to be spread? Why God do You allow this and allow that?
And more often than not I believe we're not really asking a question. As much
as we're arguing with our creator. I know I get into that with my kids. I have
2 teenagers. And this is a lesson that anyone can use with kids, grandkids,
nieces and nephews, children or employees or anything of the like. We have a
new thing, a technique that we use with our kids. Well it isn't that new. We've
been doing it for about ten years. When I ask our kids to do something and they
don't want to do it, they'll generally ask why. You need to be home at 11:00
tonight. Why? And we usually don't address the why question. And we say give me
a good reason is their next response. Give me a good reason. And with that I
respond very calmly and I say well what reason would be good enough? What
reason would be good enough? And they hate that. They're stuck because either
they have to come up with a good enough reason in which case they won't be able
to stay out after 11:00, or they have to confess to the fact that they're
really trying to get in an argument. Because more often than not the why
question isn't really asking for an answer, as much as it is picking an
argument and a fight with God.
The grief process begins with denial where it didn't really happen. But I think
that is fairly short lived before one realizes that yes I did lose a spouse,
yes my father is gone, yes my mother is gone, yes my brother is gone, yes my
sister is gone. My spouse, my job whatever it might be. And the reality sets in.
And when the reality sets in, the anger sets in. And we start asking those
questions, why God? Why do You allow these things to happen? And it's an
And we have to ask how is it possible that when we mourn like this we find the
blessings that God is talking about? Does Jesus have any idea what He's saying?
There's one passage in the Bible specifically where this same word of grief is
referred to as Jesus. So that Jesus felt the same kind of grief that you and I
felt. It's an account of Jesus with his best friend. His best friend was a man
named Lazarus. And Lazarus became sick. And Mary and Martha were sent to fetch
him and they came and they said, "Jesus, your best friend Lazarus is sick.
But you come, if you hurry you can place your hands on him and you can heal
him." And Jesus didn't come right away, waited a few days and by the time
he got there the news was shared with him that Lazarus had died. And the Bible
says specifically, let me read it to you.
"When Jesus saw the weeping of the women and the Jews who had come
along with her also weeping he was deeply moved. He was moved in spirit and
troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' he asked. Come and see, Lord,' they
And Jesus wept." He wept.
"Then the Jews said, 'see how he loved him.'"
felt the grief that we have felt. He has felt the horror and the troubles of
grief. But through the grief process we discover that grief can be turned into
a tremendous powerful source of producing within us the spirit, the strength
and the ability to do what God has called us to do. And so Jesus performed a
miracle. And he called out and he said, "Lazarus,
come forth." And Lazarus came out of the tomb, was brought back to life
and then Jesus gave us these words, he said, "Take
off the grave clothes and let him go."
And today some of us are still wrapped in the grave clothes of our sorrow and
our grief and haven't gone through the stages. And haven't reached that stage
of acceptance where we receive the comfort of Jesus Christ. We might be stuck
in the anger where you're still angry with God. You might be stuck in the
sorrow where you haven't come out of the grief. Today it's time to take the
grave clothes off. And to enter the blessings of God and to feel the presence
of the Holy Spirit and to turn your grief into action. The word comfort
actually is a word which is referred to of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of
God is known as the comforter. And that Holy Spirit of God when He comes and He
enters our hearts, He comes and He takes those negatives, those minuses in our
lives, and He turns it into a plus and it is a cross of Jesus Christ. And that
cross comes and gives us the incredible power to feel the strength and the
courage and the ability to overcome the struggles and the pain and to feel the
blessings of God so that we can say I am blessed. Through it all I am blessed.
Through the pain, I am blessed.
Dear God thank You for the pain. Acceptance. Not until we can say thank You God, have we entered the realm of acceptance.
And when we do, something happens in our lives. The comforter comes and
strengthens and encourages and turns that into a form of action so that we have
that ability to bounce back and do something and use that grief and use that
pain to do something great for God.
A dear friend of mine, the honorable Collene Campbell was a guest here in the
pulpit some time ago. In fact if you want to listen to some of her interview,
you can on our website at hour of power dot org. We have many of our previous
guests on our website and you can check the interview we had with her as well
as other interviews. And she has experienced pain like few people have. It has
been said that nothing hurts more than the loss of a child. And her son was
brutally murdered. He was thrown out of an airplane. Killed. Her brother,
Mickey Thompson and his wife, were both gunned down in their driveway.
Murdered. Killed. And Collene has moved through the stages of anger and sorrow
to acceptance. Because what happens when we move into the area of acceptance is
we move into the area of action. And we do something positive. We take the
minus sign and we turn it into a plus sign and today she is using her skills
and her ability and her connections to create laws and pass bills that will
help the victims as much as the victimizers.
I'm really hurting, but I'm
going to bounce back.
experienced pain, Lord, but through Your holy spirit, I will overcome the pain.
And I will move forward with faith and I will
say those words God is blessing me.
"Blessed are those who
mourn, for they will be comforted."
Heavenly Father we thank You that You are comforting every single one of us
this very moment with Your holy spirit. That that holy spirit is an energy
source that moves us and drives us into action. And so as we take our pain and
we turn it into good, we do so with thanksgiving in our hearts. So give us the
courage, O Lord, to face the struggles and the challenges. To face the pain and
the circumstances that hold us back. And so may we turn the negatives into the
pluses. We thank You God and we praise Your name, Amen.