Suffering – Where the Light Shines Through – Part 4

 

1. Read Isaiah 53:1-5

2. What if the plan wasn’t that everything would go right for you?

a. Do you have insurance? For your car? Your health? Your house, your boat, your RV? Your possessions? Your LIFE?

b. The thing we call ‘Insurance’ goes back to the ancient world, when people started building storehouses to keep grain so they could survive a famine if it ever came.

i. The Great London Fire of 1666 led to property insurance. Increases in steamboat and railroad accidents led to health insurance. Everybody owning cars and bashing into each other on the roads led to car insurance.

c. The insurance industry is based on two assumptions.

i. The assumption that bad things will happen

ii. And the assumption that bad things shouldn’t happen, and we need to do something to make it as painless as possible.

3. Chapters 40-61 of Isaiah contain five passages called “servant songs” which run the gamut

of types of human suffering.

a. The song in chapter 53 focuses on the servant’s experience of illness, grief and basically appearing pretty pitiful.

b. Its interesting that this Servant Song is the most quoted in NT, especially as a prophecy about Jesus.

i. Isaiah portrays the servant as a major player in God’s plan, who doesn’t really look like it.

ii. Two words are repeated: griefs and sorrows. Both words refer to physical illness. Same with other words in the passage like ‘stricken’ and ‘afflicted.’

iii. Physically a mess. Not exactly a great look for a Savior and Leader of humankind.

c. The word “BUT” or “nevertheless” starting v. 5 in some translations is a part of speech called an ‘adversative of surprise.’ And it’s a big surprise.

i. This ‘no account’ sickie is the subject of powerful action verbs: pierced for us, crushed for us, brings us peace, heals us.

ii. In other words, the sickness belongs: it is a purposeful fact which brings healing through the sufferer to all who suffer.

4. My educated guess is that the reasons we don’t like sickness & suffering to exist at all is because we expect to be well and happy.

a. But what if we’re wasting our time and our life expecting wellness and happiness?

i. What if, actually, the goal of life isn’t avoiding suffering? It belongs. And God’s plan is to experience healing and salvation through it.

b. So, God’s plan should be evaluated on the effectiveness of his healing and not on how he shields us from sickness, grief, or any kind of suffering.

5. Take the examples of having a serious, physically or mentally debilitating illness or losing a loved one who’s very close to you.

a. We don’t like it. Clearly. And for some good reasons.

b. But what if instead of seeing them as contrary to the plan we saw them as part of the plan.

i. Illness is hard, painful and frustrating, but it’s also:

1. A reminder of the transcience of life, of the importance of making the most of every one because you don’t know what’s happening next.

2. A chance for people to use their gifts of caring and skill for healing on our behalf.

3. A challenge to our sense of self-security, driving us to prayer and faith in God.

4. What would the world be like if God made it so none of these things could happen?

ii. Grief over the loss of a loved one, or a job, or a home is hard, sad and difficult to navigate. But it’s also:

1. A reminder of the transcience of relationships, importance of making the most of every one because you don’t know what’s happening next.

2. Proof that you have deeply and meaningfully loved and valued a person, a job or a place

3. A challenge to see that there is something greater and eternal for our loved ones after this life.

4. What would the world be like if God made it so none of these things could happen?

6. Jalalluddin Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, philosopher and mystic. He wrote a poem about a teacher speaking with a student:

i. “I said: what about my eyes?

ii. He said: Keep them on the road.

iii. I said: What about my passion?

iv. He said: Keep it burning.

v. I said: What about my heart?

vi. He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?

vii. I said: Pain and sorrow.

viii. He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

b. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

i. The burden doesn’t go away, it’s just a yoke of pain exchanged for a yoke of purpose.

ii. The shape of the yoke may look the same to you – cancer, physical handicap, old age, birth defect, mental illness, mourning a spouse or child or friend – but now it’s the yoke Jesus bears for you and with you.

iii. It’s also the yoke that you find your brothers and sisters in Jesus carrying for you and with you.

iv. Therefore, the yoke is transformed.

1. It is a part of Jesus’ story in you.

2. And because of that, it is easier and lighter than it was before.

 

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