When you hear about evil acts and tragedies in the world (or experience them in your own life), you might wonder, “God, why don’t You do something?” In such times, it is good to be reminded that God will do something, that He is doing something, and that He already has done something.
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Good Friday 2022
Leveraging Our Lives for the Sake of the Gospel | 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
With so much terrible news regularly filling the headlines, it can be natural to wonder why God doesn’t do something about evil in the world. In such times, it is good to be reminded that:
Good morning. It is good to see you guys. I hope all is well. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here, if we've never had an opportunity to be in the same room. If this is your first time at Watermark or your last time at Watermark or somewhere in between, we are just glad you made it today. I want to start by sharing something that was said by one of the most influential stand-up comedians in history. It's a guy named George Carlin.
I would imagine many of you who know who George Carlin is didn't expect to hear his name in church this morning. The reason George Carlin was such an influential comedian is he was willing to say things no one else would. He was willing to say what people thought but wouldn't articulate publicly. George Carlin was willing to do that. I want to share with you what he said about believing in God, because it feels very applicable to everything that has been going on in our world over the last couple of weeks.
Here's what George Carlin says about believing in God: "I want you to know, when it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God who created each of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I got to tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize something is [messed] up." Now, I'm not reading it exactly as George Carlin said it, but I am reading what is most appropriate for church this morning.
"Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades." That was a joke. "Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of [stuff] you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would have been out on his all-powerful [backside] a long time ago." That's what he says.
What's George Carlin articulating? He's articulating what many people don't feel comfortable saying publicly. He's saying, "You know what? If there's a God who is supposedly good and all-powerful, why doesn't he do something? If God was real and God was good and God had all the power he needed to do something, then he would do something, yet I look around, and it's clear that God isn't doing something when he could do something; therefore, maybe he's not even real."
Here's the reality. We find ourselves in a moment where just this past week there were 19 children and two teachers who were shot and killed in Uvalde. As a dad who has a fourth grader, I could not help but think of my own kid, and sending my kid to school took on a different meaning over the last week. I would imagine many of you felt the same way. Then the week before that, 10 people passed away in Buffalo.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which means there are people in this room who have lost loved ones serving our country in battle. Then just this week, there were multiple reports that emerged detailing sexual abuse done by those who consider themselves Christians. So, this is a moment in our lives when it is just a blaring reminder that this world is not right. Something is broken. Things are not as they should be.
When these moments come, it is normal and natural to wonder about God's activity. It is normal and natural to at least ask the question, "God, why didn't you do something? God, why don't you do something?" It just feels really important for us, as the people of God, to come back around the activity of God, because if we don't, if we don't remind ourselves of what is true, then it can lead to despair, discouragement, or disappointment in God.
I just want to be honest with you. We were supposed to be talking about singleness in 1 Corinthians 7, and as I was prepping this week, I felt all the wind get sucked out of the sails of my preparation as I was preparing in 1 Corinthians 7. On Thursday, it felt like the Lord was calling me to pivot and just say, "Hey, look. This is a moment where the people of God at Watermark Community Church need to be anchored in hope."
So, what I want to do today is I want to speak to God's activity. If you've found yourself at any point over the last week or two asking the question, "God, why didn't you do something?" or "God, why don't you do something?" I want to remind you that God will do something, but it's not just that God will do something; God is doing something, and God already has done something.
I want to invite you to turn with me this morning as we remind ourselves of God's activity. I want to ask you to turn with me to Revelation, chapter 21. You might not have expected to be jumping into Revelation this morning. We're not talking about the dragon eating the baby. That's not where we're going today, so you can just chill out. We're going to the end of the Bible because it gives a picture of the end of time. What we're doing is fast-forwarding to the end of the movie because we want to see how things play out.
Fortunately, as people who believe the Word of God is true… If you just heard that and you're like, "Actually, I'm not sure I believe the Bible is true," you just need to know we would love to help you explore the evidence that exists. There is mounds of evidence pointing to the validity of this book, which we consider to be the Word of God. God, in his kindness, has given John a vision of how things are going to play out at the end of time, and we get to see that vision.
It gives us an opportunity to remind ourselves that God will do something, but we're also going to be reminded that God is doing something and God already did something. Look with me at Revelation 21. As I was praying and preparing in 1 Corinthians 7 this week, I really sensed God was saying, "No. You're going to take people to Revelation 21," because in light of the circumstances we've seen unfolding around us, the words seem very fitting. It says this:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'
And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' And he said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.'"
There's a week left. If you just get through this last final, if you just make it through this, you have the whole summer ahead of you. You have two and a half months. You can do absolutely nothing, and we're going to go here, and we're going to do this. Live with the end in mind. Something great is awaiting you."
That's what I'm trying to do with you. I'm just trying to say, "Hey, lift up your gaze. The end is coming. Live with the end in mind. God will do something." There are several things God will do. I want to walk you through this passage, and I want you to see exactly, specifically, what God will do.
A. He will transform the earth. Look back at verse 1. "Then I saw…" The whole book of Revelation is just John getting visions from God about what will transpire. He says, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more." So, he gets a vision of a new heaven and a new earth.
What you need to understand is that God through John is not communicating to us that God is just going to hit the reset button and annihilate this earth and then start from scratch again and bring in an entirely new earth. No. What John is seeing here is a perfectly purified earth. It is an earth that has been so transformed by God… This earth has been so thoroughly transformed by God it is wholly new.
It's interesting the wording. I don't know if you saw. It says "…and the sea was no more." That might feel like a weird detail, where it's like, "There's going to be a new heaven and a new earth. By the way, there are going to be no bodies of water." It's like, "Whoa! That feels like a major shift. What was wrong with water?" That's not what's happening. The sea in Hebrew thought stood for chaos and evil. So when he says, "The sea will be no more…" The sea, which in Hebrew thought was a symbol of chaos and evil… God through John is saying that will be no more.
Any hint of hell will be no more. Anything related to hell…sin, temptation, death, disease…will be eradicated from the earth. This earth will be so thoroughly purified it will be new. The book of Isaiah was written 700 to 800 years before the book of Revelation was, yet Isaiah speaks to the new heaven and the new earth. He gives us some really important insight of what we can expect because God will transform the earth.
Isaiah 65:17 says, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things…" What are former things? It's any hint of hell on earth today. It's the things we look at and say, "That is truly not right." It's the things that are in rebellion against God, anything that touches sin, anything that has been contaminated by hell…Satan, sin, and death. "…the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind."
Isn't that interesting? Just think about what that is saying. Imagine a world where you go all of eternity and the thought of death never even crosses your mind. It's never even a thought. Your safety or your kids' safety never even pings your radar. It's not even something to pause and reflect on. It will be no more. You never will turn on the TV to see news outlets reporting on war or crime or abuse or the latest scandal.
Can you imagine a day where you go all of eternity where the news has nothing broken to report? God through John is saying that's what's in store. That's what's coming. God will transform the earth. Back in the early 2000s, there was a TV show on MTV. It was basically this custom car shop, and the host of the show was this guy named Xzibit. Every show he would be like, "Let's go," and then they would go, and they would transform a car.
They would find someone's really old sorry excuse for a car, and they would transform it and customize it according to the owner's interests. Like, in one person's truck, they turned the bed into a ping-pong table, or one guy had an aquarium right behind his seat. Someone opened their trunk, and it was flat screen TVs with gaming systems. It was like, "Man! That is amazing."
The interesting thing was all of the work they did was cosmetic. None of it was mechanical. What you had were these cars that looked amazing, but in the end, it was just the same old car. It was on the clock for its next breakdown. I think about the new heavens and the new earth. We just don't have a framework for God transforming in such a way that sin and death can no longer touch.
We look at the show Fixer Upper. We love Fixer Upper because we love transformation, but have you ever thought about what those houses look like now, even just 5 or 10 years later? They have cracks. Some of them have had leaks. There's stuff that's warping. There are scratches on the walls. What we're talking about is God doing a work that is so thorough any hint of hell completely evaporates.
B. He will purify his people. Look at verse 2. "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." He says, "I see a new heaven and a new earth." Now it says he sees a new Jerusalem. That new Jerusalem and a new earth are probably referring to one and the same thing. Jerusalem was the city of God where the temple of God resided, and the temple of God was where the presence of God resided.
So, when you see Jerusalem mentioned, what you should see is a reference to the presence of God. Also, in the book of Revelation, Jerusalem is a reference to the people of God. So, when you see John getting a vision for the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, the picture you should get is a place where the presence of God and the people of God are unified without hindrance.
The illustration there is a marriage. What we've talked about… What happens at marriage is a man and a woman come together, and Genesis, chapter 2, tells us they become one. There's unity. What John gets a vision of is this bride. The people of God are like a bride, and it says they have been prepared as a bride adorned… That word in the Greek is the Greek word kosmeo, which is where we get the word cosmetics.
The picture here is the people of God have been so purified, been made so clean and so beautiful, they are ready to be united with God for all of eternity. When I officiate weddings, right before we go out, I corner the groom, and here's what I tell him. I say, "Hey, man. Here's the deal. When those doors open, you get where you can see, because all of these jokers are going to stand up and try to get in your way of you seeing your bride. If you need to get on my shoulders, you get where you can see."
I remember officiating one wedding where there was this ledge, this wall. The groom climbed up on the wall. I was like, "That's what I'm talking about, man. You took me seriously. Way to go." I say, "You get where you can see," and then I say, "When those doors fling open, I want you to take a mental picture, because that is the most beautiful sight you will ever see. Here's the reality. Your wife will never take longer to get ready for you than on that day. That's just the reality. So just behold that beauty."
When John says the bride is coming down out of heaven, it's because a miraculous work has happened for the people of God to be purified and prepared to be united with God. We talked about what that preparation process looks like. We talked about that actually on Easter. We know what it looks like for the people of God, the bride, to be prepared for Jesus, the groom.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51, "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed." Watch the wording here. "For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality."
Paul is saying a day is coming where the perishable will put on the imperishable and the mortal will put on immortality. Because of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, when Jesus Christ walked out of the tomb, he made it possible for us to be raised to a new life with God for all of eternity.God, through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, will purify us so completely we will be prepared to be united with God for all of eternity, but right now, if the analogy is a marriage, it feels like we're in the engagement period.
I don't know if you remember your engagement or if you know an engaged couple, but if you just spend a little bit of time with a couple that is engaged, you can see excitement and misery at the same exact time.They're really excited about getting married, but they're miserable because they're not married yet. There's this deep longing in them to be married. They just want to be together. They just want to live together. They just want to be able to spend every moment together.
Right now, we're in that season that feels like engagement, where there's this longing for our wedding day. When we look at the news and see different things happen which bring pain and hurt and frustration…Do you know what that pain or that hurt or that frustration is? It is a longing for our wedding day. That's all that is.
That is just a longing that has been birthed in us when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It is a longing that has been placed in us for the day that we will be united with God without hindrance for all of eternity. You just have to understand, in order for that to happen, God will purify us completely.
If you're here and you're not a believer in Jesus…you don't even know if you believe in God…I just want to point out this is… We have to understand the problem with humanism. What humanism wants to do is it wants to remove any responsibility from God and place all responsibility on us. It's the idea that "You know what? This world can be a better place if we just become better people."
Humanism says, "We're the solution to the problem in the world. If we could just love one another, this world would be a better place." Here's the problem: in order for this world to become a better place, we all have to agree on the definition of love. If we all think the answer is love, but we define love differently… Do you know what the result is when people define love differently? Anger and bitterness that results in sinful activity.
The reality is we're not the solution; we're the problem. The reason the world is the way it is is because you and I live in it. We bring our own anger and bitterness and resentment and insecurity and pride into the world. It fleshes itself out in different ways for different people, but in the end, it all collectively contributes to a broken and busted world. The world is broken because we're broken. What we all need is to be so thoroughly purified by the blood of Jesus Christ we are made ready for God.
C. He will heal our hurts. Look at what verse 3 says. "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.'" That phrase dwelling place literally means tent or tabernacle, which is really interesting.
If you were to read the Bible from start to finish, you would see this theme of a temple or a tabernacle all the way throughout the Scriptures. You see when God brings the Israelites out of Egypt, and he's leading them through the wilderness, they establish the tabernacle, which was the place where God would meet with his people. The presence of God would live among the people in the tabernacle. Then Solomon built the temple, which was a more permanent structure.
Then Jesus shows up on the scene, and it says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt [or tabernacled] among us." Then you look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, which says your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. So, what you need to see is there's this common theme throughout the Scriptures where God is committed to being present with his people. In the garden of Eden, he walked and talked with Adam and Eve. In the Old Testament, he was with his people…a pillar of cloud by day, fire by night.
He dwelt with his people in the tabernacle, which then became the temple, and then Jesus was the temple, and now we (our bodies, and even the church) are the temple of God. Now God through John is saying a time is coming where the temple of God will be the earth. God's presence will manifest itself in such a tangible way it will fill the earth. The dwelling place of God will be with man.
Here's the difference. The difference between then and now is what Revelation 22:4 says: "They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads." What we're talking about is unhindered access to and enjoyment of the presence of God. We'll no longer walk by faith; we will walk by sight. So, if you think about it, the greatest consequence Adam and Eve experienced in the garden for their sin was removal from the physical presence of God.
The greatest reward, or the greatest gift of eternity, is that we, as human beings, will be restored to the physical presence of God. This brings new meaning to what David says in Psalm 16:11. If you don't know this verse, I would encourage you to go read it and memorize it. It's possibly my favorite verse in all of Scripture. David says, "You make known to me the path of life…" Watch this wording. "…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
In the presence of God, that's where fullness of joy resides. At his right hand… Who sits at the right hand of the Father? Jesus Christ. "At your right hand are unending pleasures." We will spend all of eternity exploring the unending pleasures of God. If that is true, here's what you need to understand: heaven is heaven because God is there. That's what makes heaven heaven. Heaven won't be full of a bunch of people who were scared of hell. Heaven will be filled with a bunch of people who fell in love with Jesus and wanted to spend all of eternity with him. That is heaven.
Heaven is heaven because that's where God is. In his presence there is fullness of joy. At his right hand are pleasures forevermore. Watch this. Remember what I said. The point is that God will heal our hurts. Right now we're talking about the presence of God. What does that have to do with our hurts being healed? Well, look at verse 4. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." This shows the power of God's presence.
Because of God's presence filling the earth, there are a few things that will happen. Did you see the wording? It says God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. I just want you to think about that, him wiping your tears away. Just even to put yourself in that place where God, with his own hands, is reaching out because he's so near to you, and he is wiping the tears away from your face. We're talking about God moving in so near to us his presence brings complete wholeness. Anything that has caused tears in your life will no longer have any bearing on your life.
It says death will be no more. Because of God's presence, a day is coming where there will never again be a school shooting. There will never again be another war that will cost brave soldiers their lives. Cancer will never take another life. Terminal illnesses won't even be a thing. There will never again be a fatal accident. That day is coming. It says there will be no more mourning, no more crime, no more pain. Never again will you suffer loss in your life.
This is the power of God's presence. God's presence brings complete wholeness and peace to our lives. I love the wording. It says, "For the former things have passed away." When we use that terminology, passing away, we're talking about death. What it's saying is there will be no more death because death has been put to death. In the new heavens and the new earth, death has been put to death. That's incredible news for us.
D. He will reward the faithful. Skip down to verse 6. We'll come back to verse 5 in just a minute. Verse 6 says, "And he said to me, 'It is done!'" So it's done. What's done? History is done. God has brought history to its completion. It's done. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."
God is saying, "I'm the sovereign one over all creation." In Isaiah 46, God says, "…for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…'"
As the beginning and the end, he's saying, "I was there in the beginning. I'll be there in the end. I've been there in the in between. I am sovereign over all things. Nothing is outside of my control, and I will accomplish all of my purposes. Everything I have purposed will come to fruition." Paul puts it this way in Colossians 1:17: "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
So, knowing him as the one who is sovereign over all things, who will accomplish all of his purposes. Here's what God aims to do. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment." One of his purposes is to satisfy the longings of his people for eternal life with him. That's what it means to be thirsty.
To be thirsty is to be in a position where you recognize your need for salvation. You realize you have not lived the life God has required of you and me, yet Jesus Christ did. Jesus Christ, who was and is God, left heaven and came to earth, lived the life we couldn't, died the death we deserve, conquered the grave so that we, too, could conquer the grave. God has made a way through Jesus Christ for us to be united with him for all of eternity. That's what it means to be thirsty. It's to want that. It is to want eternal life with God.
God will give to the thirsty and require no payment for it. I want to make sure you understand that salvation, eternal life with God, is a free gift. There's no bait and switch here. I think about the fact that when we travel, we go into hotels, and everyone knows to stay away from the minibar. It's clear. Everything in the minibar will cost you crazy amounts of money. It's just like, "No. I'm just going to go down the street to the grocery store or the gas station, and I will cut my costs…not in half, but by significant amounts of money."
There's this new thing that's happening in hotels where they put bottles of water on the counter when you walk in, because they know you're going to be thirsty after traveling. So, you walk in and see those bottles of water, and you're like, "I'm really thirsty," and then you get close, and you read the fine print, and it's like, "That'll be $50 for this bottle of water." It's such a bait and switch, because it's not hidden in a mini fridge, which is inside of a cabinet. No.
They put it right on the counter, because they know you're going to be thirsty, and then they get you with your thirst, and they're like, "Yes! It's going to cost you." God is like, "No, no, no. If you're thirsty, it doesn't require payment." Your response to your thirst is trust. That's it. It's trust. God says, "Here's the river of life. Drink. Be filled." That's the reward for faithfulness. The reward is satisfaction. It's God quenching your thirst, quenching your desire to be with him.
Then he goes on, and look at what he says in verse 7. "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son." This is really important, because those who know Jesus Christ in a real way, who are transformed by Jesus, who know Jesus and God puts his Spirit inside of them… Those people will conquer. What does that mean? To conquer is to patiently endure the evils of this world. It's to take hold of God, knowing he has already taken hold of you.
By the power of his Spirit, you endure the darkest of days, knowing a day is coming where he will wipe away every tear and death will be no more. He's saying to those who conquer, they will have this heritage. It's the idea of inheritance, like, what you're going to inherit. You're going to inherit the new earth. You're going to inherit God's presence with you. It's the idea that there is something beautiful to suffering well.
I think about my friend Alex down here. His dad just passed away within the last month. I remember getting a text from Alex just talking about his dad. Hospice care had come in, and his dad was just sharing the gospel with people on his way out. On his way to heaven, he was like, "I'm going to try to take as many people as I can with me," which is amazing. That is suffering well, finishing well.
One of our close friends passed away within the last month, and one of her greatest fears was getting sick and leaving her family here on earth. That's exactly what happened to her. Even though her greatest fear came true, what you saw right at the end of her life was her family gathering around her, worshiping with her, praying with her, and her family celebrating her as she left them to go and be with Jesus.
That's conquering. That's what it looks like to conquer. Even in the face of the evils and the brokenness of the world, you endure because one has taken hold of you. As you hang on to him, you realize you're hanging on to him because he's already hanging on to you. Because you conquer, you will be rewarded. God will give to you an inheritance of blessing.
E. He will deal justly with the faithless. Verse 8: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." The reason that in this point I only put faithless…I said God will deal justly with the faithless…is because when we read the list, it says those who are detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters…
We look at that, and we're like, "Yeah. It makes sense that God will hold murderers accountable." The idea here is if someone takes a bunch of people's lives and tries to escape judgment by taking their own life, they cannot escape God's judgment. God will deal justly with all unrighteousness in the world, yet we need to remember God will deal justly with the faithless. What does it mean to be faithless? Faithlessness is trusting in your own resources instead of staking your life on God.
It's just good for every person in here to evaluate… If you were to die tonight, and you were to stand before God, and he were to ask you, "Why should I let you into heaven…?" I don't know if he'll ask you that question. That would be a reasonable question for him to ask. If he were to ask you that question, what would you say? If the first word out of your mouth is I, there's a hint of faithlessness in you, because there's a trust in what you've done.
If you believe your response to God will include everything you have done for him, you just need to know what you've done will not be enough. Faith isn't putting your trust in what you've done; it's putting your trust in what he has done for you. Period. So, it's just good to know God will deal justly with the faithless.
I tell you this: just live with the end in mind. If you're asking the question, "Why doesn't God do something?" let's be clear: God will do something. God will transform the earth. He'll purify his people. He'll heal our hurts. He'll reward the faithful. He'll deal justly with the faithless. But you might hear that and say, "That's great that he'll do that one day, but what about today? Why doesn't God do something now?" Well, let's be clear.
I love the wording that we are new creations, because, in some ways, it pulls Revelation 21 into our world today. It's a good reminder that you will never see the new earth without first being made new by Jesus. You can anxiously await the new creation, because you already are a new creation, but you won't see the new earth without being made new by Jesus Christ. We all want God to execute justice on the earth. We want God to deal with all the evil in the world, but if God dealt with all the evil in the world today, what if he starts with you and me?
Either Jesus is going to take care of your sin or you are going to take care of your sin. It's just good to remember you won't see the new earth without first being made new by Jesus Christ. That's why evil in this world is actually a sign of God's patience and grace. It means he hasn't dealt with all evil in the world yet, because he still longs for some who still are evil to be made new by him. Second Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Jesus Christ died. He went to the cross for your sin and mine. He was put in a tomb for your sin and mine. He walked out of that tomb for your sin and mine. He conquered your sin and mine through his death, burial, and resurrection. Because he is now alive forevermore… It says he has the keys to death and hades. It means he is in complete control. He is sovereign over all things, and he will accomplish everything he wishes to accomplish. So, it is fitting and right for us to say, "Great is your faithfulness," because he died, and now he's alive forevermore.
I'll close by saying this. When I was in high school, I ran cross-country. A cross-country race was 3.1 miles. Here's how the miles would break down. The first mile was the easiest one and the most enjoyable one, because you would start, and you'd just be carried by adrenaline for the first mile, but then the second mile would come, and the race would get spread out to the point where you could find yourself running by yourself.
You begin to look at the ground instead of looking at the people ahead of you, and that's when side stitches will set in. Pain starts to set in, and you're just left to wonder, "Why did I choose to do cross-country in the first place? I chose to wake up at 5:00 this morning and just run as fast as I can for 3.1 miles. It makes no sense." Then the third mile would come, and you'd begin to realize, "The end is coming. The finish line is near." You'd round a corner and see the finish line, and it would unlock these reserves of energy you didn't know you had.
You'd begin to pump your arms and lift your knees and lengthen your stride, and you would finish, sprinting, because you saw that the end was near. I tell you that because that's how the Christian life will be. There are going to be seasons and days and years where you're just carried by adrenaline, and everything is as it should be, and life is going great. Then mile twos are going to hit, and you're going to be left to your thoughts. You're going to feel pain, and you're going to begin to wonder, "Why did I start following Jesus in the first place?"
I want you to know mile three is coming. The finish line is ahead. A day is coming where there will be no more tears, no more death, no more pain. The old will be gone. The new will come. So don't stop. Keep racing. Lift up your gaze. Finish strong, because Jesus Christ is coming back. A day is coming where he will take us to where he is, and we will experience his presence and his joy for all of eternity. Let's pray together.
Lord Jesus, you know the hurts that are in this room. I've just talked about what's going on in the world, but I would imagine that what's going on in individual worlds in this room… I would imagine that there's a lot of pain, so I just pray that you would be near. Lord, if anyone in this room doesn't know you, may they put their trust in you today.
Lord, for those who feel like they're hanging by a thread, I pray that even in this moment they would sense you grabbing hold of them, drawing them near, and embracing them in the darkest moments of life. Lord, we need you. We continue to pray for your hope and healing to make its way to Uvalde and to Buffalo. Would you make your way into the hearts of those who have lost loved ones in battle? Lord, we need you. Hold us close. In Jesus' name, amen.