Monday, 11 September 2017 09:43

Life is Hard, But There is Hope

Written by  Brian Miller, Aldersgate UMC
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There is hope.

 

Alice Cooper was recently reflecting on the life of his late friend Glen Campbell. Yes, that Alice Cooper, the shock rocker known for dark theatrical rock shows, was a friend with that Glen Campbell, the smooth singing star of radio and television.

 

Cooper said that both he and Campbell battled addictions through their years in Los Angeles. However, both of them found faith in Christ. They became better husbands and fathers, and they overcame the drugs and alcohol.

 

Life isn’t perfect. We experience pains. We find ourselves in trouble. We stumble. This is as true for those who have experienced Jesus as any one. Maybe it’s the addiction that trains our brains in unhealthy ways. Maybe it’s broken relationships, separation and divorce. Maybe it’s financial instability that causes anxiety and fear. Maybe it’s the breakdown of mental health.

 

Each of us has been affected by these, either personally or through someone we love. I want to invite you today to (1) recognize that difficulties are to be expected, (2) seek help, and (3) know that God is with you.

 

We can’t be sure what exactly was the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 12. It may have been a person who tormented the churches being planted. Another explanation could be that Paul is referring to a physical ailment. We know that his eyesight was worsening. Further, this “thorn” could have been a habit or proclivity that was not God-honoring. If the Apostle Paul experienced hardship, I expect that I will as well.

 

Of course the crucial step in dealing with these things that make life difficult is to get help. I love the story of the friends who brought a man on a mat to Jesus for healing. When they arrived, the room was too crowded. So, they lowered their friend down to Jesus from the roof. Share your struggles with someone. If you don’t know how to get the help you need, tell a few friends. Let them carry you to Jesus.

 

I love the prophet Isaiah. Throughout Isaiah’s words from the Lord, he tells deep truth about us and about God. He shares about the brevity of our lives, that we are like flowers that wither. He makes clear that our lives are not forever and that we will go through difficulties.

 

Yet, throughout the prophecy, he constantly reminds us that God is with us. “When you pass through the waters,” God says through Isaiah, “I will be with you. The waves will not overcome you.” He is with us in the ups. He’s especially with us in the downs.

 

It is tempting when we face hardship, especially when we contributed to our own hardship, to think of God as judgy and angry. Sometimes, sadly, we get that impression from the messages being preached at church or from the response that we might expect from our parents. Yet, Scripture doesn’t reveal that as part of God’s role when his people are in trouble. Not only does God walk with us through the difficulties of our lives, he has compassion upon us. “[A] bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.”

 

This is the best news of all. God is with us.

 

What do Alice Cooper, Glen Campbell, the Apostle Paul, you, and me have in common? We all experience brokenness. So, let’s recognize that only makes us human. Let us look for those who can help us. Let us remember that God is with us, and even in our darkest days, we will never be alone.

 

The perfect life isn’t the one that experiences no trouble. It’s the life where the trouble doesn’t determine the outcome.

 

 

Brian Miller is pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Visit online at www.aldersgateumc.org.

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 11 September 2017 10:27
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