Last Sunday I preached a sermon about why God does not take our troubles away from us.
Looking at Numbers 21 and John 3 I want to understand what it means for Moses to lift up the bronze serpent and for the Son of Man to be lifted up. Why didn’t God just drive away the snakes from the people in the wilderness. The people repented of their disobedience and they asked God and Moses to forgive them. God certainly brought his forgiveness and strength to the people, but he did not take the snakes away. Instead he told Moses to fashion a bronze serpent and hoist it up on a pole. Then when anyone was beaten and they looked upon the bronze serpent they would no longer suffer the pain of the snake bite.
I think the truth is that God does not want us to only seem him present in our lives when he takes away our troubles but also that he is present and victorious in our troubles. When Jesus is lifted up on the cross we witness the Son of Man suffering all the backwards love of selfishness. He takes that upside down hate and transforms the cross into the presence of his mercy for us in the midst of our suffering.
There are some relationships that we wish would just go away because we are exhausted from trying to figure out how God can be at work in that friendship. I am getting tired of death and dying happening around me. It would be great if God would just stop this pain and make all these troubles go away. Why? Why is the God who is the king of kings not doing this for me?
Truth is I need to be reminded of how to see God present on the cross for me. He is for me in my suffering and pain. I will be stronger when I see him in the crosses I carry in my life. I can never carry these crosses on my own, the burden is too much and the journey is too long. If I know that Jesus is with me in my burden-bearing-crosses, then I know I can carry them.
On Sunday people thanked me for preaching this sermon. It is always encouraging to hear from people on Sunday about the sermon I preached. Some wondered if I preached the sermon for them on Sunday. I wrote this sermon more because this is a message I need to hear for myself. As a preacher, I use sermons to encourage and strengthen both the people and myself.
I will sometimes write a sermon because of what I know other people are going through in their lives. I wrote this sermon because I need to be confident that God is in this world of suffering.