Well I want to ask you today is it well with your soul? We are going through challenging, difficult times, are we not? And last week Bishop Ulmer, he told us, he taught us that we’re going through the valley, right? Because this valley has an end, this storm has an end. He says we’re going through tough times. And today, I want to say not only are we going through tough times, but I want to take it a step further and show you how to grow through tough times. How to grow through the valley. We want to grow, we want to grow spiritually, we want to grow as people. And so that today at the end of the service, you too can say it is well, it is well with my soul.
My message today is based on Romans 5 and I’m going to start at verse 3. This is the amplified version. “Let us be full of joy, now. Let us exalt and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings.” Oh. That’s what he said. “Let us rejoice in our sufferings.” Rejoice in our trials. Give thanks for all the stuff that’s going wrong in our life. You came to church and really wanted to hear this didn’t you. Well he goes on and he says “because these sufferings will produce endurance and perseverance and the perseverance will produce character and the character will produce a hope, not just any hope, but a hope that will not disappoint.” Unsinkable hope. Hope that will not disappoint. How would you like to leave here today with that kind of hope? Hope that is anchored, hope that is unswerving.
Well I’m going to show you today, and I’m not going to throw this off the pulpit. This is a chain because this is what Paul is talking about. He’s giving us a chain here in Romans 5 verse 3 and it starts out with trials. Suffering. All those things that we’re unhappy about. The bad economy, not enough money, not knowing whether we’re going to have a home, not knowing whether we’d have a job, not knowing what else could possibly go wrong. But the first link in the chain is being grateful for those trials. Be grateful for those trials. And I know, I know, I know, I don’t like doing it either. But you know we’re all in good company because you all know Corrie ten Boom, the story of Corrie ten Boom. She and her family were put in the concentration camp, Ravensbruck during World War II because as Christians they were harboring Jews. And Corrie was in the concentration camp with her sister Betsie.
And you know if it wasn’t bad enough to be in a concentration camp, away from your family, there are fleas, too. Fleas. And Corrie started complaining. Betsie, doesn’t God care about us anymore? Look at where we are and now we have fleas on top of everything else. Fleas. Betsie said Corrie we need to thank God for those fleas. Corrie said are you kidding me? Thank God for the fleas? Yes, Betsie said, we need to thank God for the fleas. And so Corrie said all right I thank You God for the fleas. But do you know that they found out later that it was those fleas that kept the Nazi guards from coming in to their camp, into their barrack. And so they had the freedom to pray and to worship and to celebrate God. Why? Because of those fleas. Because of those fleas. So yes, thank God for those trials. Thank God for everything that’s going wrong because that’s what we’re told to do by Paul in Romans 5, verse 3. Thank God for the trials because not only will they necessarily save you from some other thing that could be even worse, but because they produce perseverance. Perseverance. Endurance. There’s no way to learn patience, there’s no way to learn this without going through a trial and that’s what Paul is saying. And yet what a wonderful gift to have patience. What a wonderful gift to have strength. What a wonderful gift to have endurance, the endurance of a Scott Rigsby who can run and participate in an iron marathon.
Have you been watching the Olympics? There’s this one kid, his name is Kevin Pearce, and he was an Olympic contender in the snow board half pipe. And I don’t know if you saw it, the story, but it was in training and you know that half pipe, that’s where they go down that and then they make these funny, I mean amazing tricks. Well he was training and came down on his head on the lip of the half pipe and his parents got the call that it was traumatic, significant brain injury to Kevin.
And Kevin’s mom Pia was interviewed and she said you know, it was Kevin’s big brother David who taught us patience. Kevin has a bigger brother David who was born with Down syndrome. But she said we learned patience with David, we learned the patience of how long it takes to learn to just fasten that seat belt, how much patience it learned just to eat, all those things and she said it was the patience we learned with David that is helping us now. We’re taking those same lessons and using them with Kevin and she said David’s Down syndrome was a gift to us. It helped prepare us. That trial produced the perseverance, the patience, the endurance for them now that they are faced with even yet another trial.
So the trails produce perseverance, and perseverance produce character. Character. Strong, strong character. You know when I was in high school, I loved musicals and my senior year, my drama teacher came to me and she said Sheila, she said, we have the perfect role for you. I want you to audition for this role and she gave me the script to take home and study. And you know that’s every kids dream if you’re in the theater arts, to have the director say to you, I have a role I want you to try out for, which means you’ve got the role, pretty much, right? So I took the script home and I studied it, I was so excited and I sat down and I threw myself on my bed in my bedroom and I started reading the script and I’m going uh oh. My heart just sank because this was a character I could not play without compromising my Christian values. I closed the script and I went to school the next day and I handed it back to the director, my drama teacher and I said, I’m sorry but I cannot audition for this role. I can audition for the show, and I will, but I will not audition for that role because it compromises my Christian values. Can you imagine being a high school student and going to your teacher and telling her that?
Well, she looked very disappointed in me and that afternoon in the auditions, we all sat and we filled up the seats in the front of the theater and we had to audition up on stage and we had to fill out these little cards and you could check in a box which roles you were willing to audition for, and I purposely did not check the box of the role that she had asked me to audition for, and even so, she said in front of everybody, she said okay now, she said, I would like Sheila to come up on stage and I want Sheila to read for the part of. The role I said I would not audition for. So in front of all my peers, I said to her I told you I’m so very sorry but I cannot audition for that role. It would cause me to compromise my Christian values. And I turned and I walked out of the theater, feeling wow did I do the right thing? Did I do the wrong thing? You know I just stood up to my teacher in front of all my peers, talk about peer pressure. But as I was walking down the sidewalk of school, dad was there to pick me up. And he said Sheila how did the auditions go today? And I said not good, dad, you know and I told him what happened, and he said Sheila, he said you didn’t get the lead in the school play but you got a lead in the heavenly play. And I’m so proud of you today. So that’s my dad.
But those trials produce perseverance and perseverance produces character, strong character, character of integrity, character that can stand up in the face of adversity, character that can stand up to peer pressure. Character that can say this is right. This is right and I will only do what’s right.
Would you like to have that kind of character? Then you have to go through the trials and you have to go through the perseverance to get there. But character produces hope. Hope, unsinkable hope. Hope that does not disappoint. Isn’t that the kind of hope you want today? Hope that is unshakeable. Hope that is anchored no matter what happens, no matter how strong the waves, no matter now difficult the trials.
I’m holding up a chain and do you see it anchored on to anything? No. Is this chain going to help you in the midst of a trial or a storm? If you took this chain, you threw it off the back of your boat, is it going to help you? No. Chains need to be rooted and anchored on something. You have to have that anchor. And I’m going to ask them to put up the slide that shows the chain that is tied to an anchor because, is it up there? What do you see in that anchor? A cross! Do you see the cross in the anchor? Its grace. If your hope is anchored in grace, your hope will never disappoint.
You know, I said earlier hope is not anchored in our accomplishments. Hope is not anchored in our acquisitions; hope is anchored in an acquittal. Acquittal? Acquittal. For you see, we all have the possibility of life, of living life abundantly, here and forevermore, we can have a full, abundant, overflowing life here, here, today, every day. And you can have life forever and ever with Jesus Christ in heaven after death, and its only possible because God sent His son Jesus to show us how much He loves us, because Jesus died on the cross. And when Jesus died on the cross and was risen again, this is what happened for you and for me. If you were sitting in a court of law as a defendant and the judge said guilty, guilty and the sentence is death. Wow. True? That’s how we are. That’s what happens to us. We all sit there with a death sentence hanging over our heads, but praise be to God because Jesus comes bursting through the back of that courtroom and He goes marching up to the judge and He says judge I want to have a little side bar with you here a minute. And the judge, after he listens to Jesus, he turns to you and he says Jesus has just said He will die in your place. You are free to go. You are free to have life, life abundant. Anchor that chain, anchor that chain in the cross of Jesus Christ and that is a hope that will never disappoint.
I’d like to read a poem I wrote just for this morning and it’s called “Anchored.”
When the storms of life besiege, when the winds howl and blow, when the sands sink and shift below, there’s only one place to go. Head for the harbor, sail for the shore, throw down the anchor and ride out the storm. What is this anchor? How can it save? A mere chain and mooring against an ocean’s rage? The anchor is the cross of Christ and so I need not fear, He gave His very life for me, my cry for help He will hear. God’s saving grace is strong and sure, an anchor in the roughest sea. The cross is there so I can be anchored in hope for eternity.
Now I would like to invite you today to join me, if you so wish. I’m going to go over to the cross, because I believe the only way to have hope is to be anchored in the cross of Jesus Christ, and if you want to come and make a chain with me that will be anchored to the cross, I invite you to come and take my hand at this moment.