In my friday post this past weekend I mentioned the sermon by CJ Mahaney entitled, "Making Our Way to the House of Mourning." Some sweet friends of ours, Chad and Casey, are a part of the Sovereign Grace Church here in Louisville where CJ is one of the pastors and this is the sermon he preached the Sunday after a dear member of their church was killed in a car accident. This member was a good friend to our friends and leader of their small group. I talked with Casey not long after everything happened and she told me how she and Chad had never before seen the elders of a church care for a body in such a loving, wise, thoughtful, Christ-exalting way. And after listening to the sermon when Casey shared it with me I had a glimpse of that. This sermon is one of the best I've ever heard. It is one of those sermons, for both J and I, that we will always recall to mind. It is humbly given and so honest about the pain of this life, but so grounded in the hope of Jesus and in His understanding love for us.
Here's a little piece of it:
"this account actually should serve each of us in the midst of our trials and suffering. If in your life it seems that God is delaying and not responding to your request you can be assured this morning that there is a divine purpose for the delay, even when you cannot perceive that divine purpose. His delays in response to our requests and in the midst of our trials and suffering should not be interpreted as a withdrawal of His love. When it appears that God is delaying and not responding, withholding and not providing, there's a purpose and the purpose is revealed in verse 4, it is for the glory of God. You see, Lazarus was not the main character in this story, Jesus is the main character in this story, and we aren't the main character either in our story. Jesus is the main character in our story as well. It's about His glory......but we must acknowledge that it is His glory not our comfort, His glory not our preferences. His glory matters most and in the midst of our trials and suffering we can be assured of His love, we can be assured that He is at work for His glory. He is at work for His glory and our good and His glory is our greatest good. In His perfect timing He will display His glory. In His perfect timing He will work all things together for our good. But it might not appear that way in the moment........"*
I started sharing this with the idea that I'd just share one statement, but it's just so good. Isn't it!? I love these words so much. I listened to this sermon when I was driving to Nashville a couple weekends ago and when I heard him say, "you can be assured that there is a divine purpose for this delay, even when you can't perceive that divine purpose. His delays in response to our requests and in the midst of our trials and suffering should not be interpreted as a withdrawal of His love....."I instantly became teary. Teary because every ounce of me felt the weight of that beautiful, comforting truth. I can be assured. We can be assured. Assured, assured, assured, that there is a divine purpose for His delays. Our God never ceases to be at work and to be loving in His work.
The thing we have to deal with, that our hearts and minds have to acknowledge, is that it's ultimately about His glory, not our comfort or preferences. That's not an easy fact to face because surely we know what's best for us to have at a given season, right? That "why" question nags and we doubt whether He really is being loving or whether He really has our best in mind.....BUT.....His glory and our good are united. As Mahaney shares, "His glory is our greatest good!" His glory being known, realized, and seen is the greatest good we can know. We get to be a canvas for His glory. What a truth that we can fight to grasp, to hold onto with clenched fists, and be assured of in the darkest moments of this life. He is working, lovingly working, for our good and for His glory. This we can be absolutely assured of.
*quote from CJ Mahaney's sermon: Making Our Way to the House of Mourning