Sometimes we wonder why God allows certain things to happen; things like pain and suffering. Job’s suffering was a test to his integrity; but he chose to worship God even in the midst of pain and suffering. He never cursed God for the things God allowed in his life. We struggle with the question, why does God allow pain and suffering in this world? Why do you and I go through rough times in this world?
We all at one time or another experience pain and suffering or know someone very close who is going through. My wife and I followed the updates of a family friend of ours, whose youngest son died not long ago. He had battled cancer for about four years. He suffered a lot during that time, the family when through suffering and pain and still dealing with the grieving aspect of losing a loved one. Pain and suffering is real. We are not exempt from it, sooner or later you will have to deal with it, if you are not already. You read about it, you watch it on the news, you experience. Pain and suffering is part of our world, it is all around us.
You may be familiar with the commercial or saying, “There are some things money can’t buy” You can buy a comfortable bed, but you cannot buy sleep. There was a man who had everything going for him. This was a man of position, power and popularity. He was very successful, respected by all. This is how he is introduced to us in Scripture. But he had a big problem, a problem he could not buy a solution for with all his riches. You see all accolades could not buy him what he truly wanted in life. He had great accomplishments and success, but he wasn’t content in life because he had a terminal illness and imagine, even though he had enough money, fame, and people in charge, nothing could cure him. I guess the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
Everything you do is determined by a belief or beliefs, certain principles. How you make sense of the world if governed by your beliefs. These beliefs become the foundation of your worldview (the platform from which you stand to make sense of the world). Every society is governed by principles which are the foundations upon which nations are built.
The most important part of a building is the foundation, if the foundation is not strong, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the building is.
Lots of people in our nation suffer from identity crisis. Some don’t even know who they are anymore. They may not be happy with who they are and spend lots of money in search of becoming someone they would like to be. For a lot of people their identity is tied to their jobs, careers, looks, fame, money, spouse, sexual preference, etc. If your identity is tied to your job, then when you lose your job, you lose your identity; the same if you built your identity on your spouse, when he or she is gone, you will have an identity crisis.
Maybe you have seen the TV show by Morgan Freeman, “The story of God” For centuries people have wrestled with the question is there a God out there? How do you even know that God exists? Is there evidence out there to the existence of God? If the skeptics would consider the evidence they would know that God exists and that He wanted people to know him. So if you doubt his existence, he welcomes you to examine the evidence that point to himself. You can get to know this God, not just know about him.
Scripture tells us that what is known about God is plain or visible, it’s evident.
We all go through trials and difficult times in this life; things happen to us that tend to squeeze our joy and test our faith in God. As Christians you may feel at times empty, stagnant, and hopeless in the world. You may feel like God has left you; that he is not answering your prayers; you may feel you are running on empty, you need to be revived again, but you may not even know it’s possible; you don’t even know where to begin.
Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. We talked about how the resurrection is truly the reason Christianity even exists. It is what gives us hope of eternal life. The apostles didn’t expect the resurrection, this is why they were amazed when they saw Jesus. Jesus began to appear to his disciples, to give them evidence that he was truly alive. This changed their sadness into joy. Imagine how joyous it would be to see the man who was killed talking with them again. John tells us that the evening of the same day when Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were gathered, but Thomas was not there. Thomas is known my many as doubting Thomas, but I think we all could relate to him at some point in our lives.
Doubt is defined: as to be uncertain about something; to believe that something may not be true or is unlikely. To have no confidence in someone or something. Doubt is very common in us, it comes from the time the first humans doubted God.
It must have been an awful weekend for the apostles and followers of Jesus; their leaders got arrested on Thursday evening and then nailed to a cross on Friday afternoon. This was a horrifying weekend for followers of Jesus. Their hopes and dreams were shattered by a cross. Jesus was the one they thought would restore the kingdom to Israel, their expected messiah. Jesus had told his followers that they would fall away because of him. “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Matt. 26:31; Mk.14:27; Zech.13:7). This is exactly what happened when Jesus was apprehended; his followers abandoned him. Fear and insecurity had gripped them. They chose to hide and they would lock the doors for they were afraid, they would be hunted down for being followers of Jesus. The death of Jesus was a shocker to them; they didn’t expect it nor did they want it. The news of the resurrection was also a shocker for Jesus’s followers. They didn’t expect Jesus to rise from the dead either. If they had expected it, they would have gone home thinking “ok Jesus, see you in three days.” They had forgotten Jesus’s words to them about the resurrection. Every time Jesus spoke of his death, he also emphasized raising up on the third day.
Today is what is known in our times Palm Sunday, a week before Easter or resurrection Sunday. The Bible calls this time, the triumphant entry, the time when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, a week before his death. This story is told in the four gospels. Why is this significant? This is the only time in which Jesus openly revealed himself as the expected messiah to the world. We know that Jesus’ identity had baffled a lot of people, but a week before Jesus died, he showed himself to the world as the expected messiah.
There were lots of people in Jerusalem at this time for the Feast of Passover was near.