Life is a Beautiful Struggle
Thank you choir, every week it is a blessing to listen to your beautiful anthem, let us thank them again. Life can be very hard. Is there anybody who can say life is really easy for you? When I said that to Korea in KSM and we are service, good for you and they laughed a lot, I mean that’s a joke. Life is easy. That is a joke. Life can be very hard. Most people experience hardships of life. That doesn’t mean that we are unhappy. Just because life is hard. That doesn’t mean that we are unhappy. Just hard. Everyone deals with some kind of problems and challenges. Sometimes, these challenges are too much for us to deal with. Overwhelming and these problems often don’t come to us one by one. When we are ready for the next one, they don’t warn us. They just come like waves one after another without having breathing space. They just come to us. Jesus’ life was hard too.
The Journey of Jesus Christ
Jesus was not an ordinary man you know people who are ordinary, they can get along with everyone. You know, they can live kind of comfortably. But people who are really extraordinary or some very special, they have a really hard time because they are unique. And Jesus was a very, very unique person. And Jesus’ message was very different from other scribes. The scripture said. And also people said, your message is very different from other scribes. So people who were in power, who possessed the power at that time, who wanted to control their system, they really did not like Jesus.
You know, people can be quite cruel if you don’t like each other. You don’t just leave. You don’t like them. You just, you do something. I think, either. I mean, they try to trap Jesus and plotted conspiracy against Jesus and they even tried to kill Jesus because Jesus’ idea was different and different from what they wanted. You know, when you read John, when Jesus raised dead Lazarus, in that same chapter, last verse says, they started plotting against Jesus and they planned to kill him. When Jesus raised Lazarus, they planned to kill him. Wouldn’t Jesus sense from people’s eyes? When people hate you, when people tried to kill you, you sense that violence in their eyes, from their face. Jesus sense that all the time, not just one person from a lot of people, even if one person hates you, it’s hard to bear.
You know, whenever you see them is hard to bear. But when so many people had that kind of eyes, that kind of face to Jesus, Jesus had a difficult time. So I cannot say that Jesus had an easy life. Jesus’ life was hard. St. Paul was the same too. He was a Jew. But after meeting Christ, he changed many people. Many Jewish people thought that Paul was trying to destroy the national and religious identity of Jewish people like a circumcision. You don’t have to do it. So people really hated Paul’s message and they try to kill Paul too. Like as they try to kill Jesus. How difficult it must have been for Paul to go through life’s challenges. And then once in a while, you encounter Paul’s struggle and difficulties. So when you read his letters, one of them is from Romans. He said I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish.
Stories of Faith
Unceasing anguish that like come like waves. Every morning he wakes up with his anguish, his anxiety, anguish in my heart for I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people. My kindred according to the flesh, like what he’s saying is I don’t hate my people. I love my people, but they misunderstood Paul tremendously. That’s why Paul is saying this. Moses also lived a very, very difficult life having to deal with people’s complaints and dissatisfaction. He gave so much. We’re going to talk about this a little more at the leaders retreat, he gave so much and yet people just complained and they’ll still be dissatisfied with him. All the great people went through life’s hardships. So when your life is hard, please don’t get discouraged. You are not alone in this. I visited a person at an Etobicoke general last week.
I tried to talk to her and she spoke something, but I couldn’t understand a word that she was saying. She was weak and she couldn’t really articulate. So I tried many times, but I couldn’t really figure out what she was saying. So I kind of, as much as possible, I try to listen to her. And in the end, I prayed for, she has a very difficult time walking. For us, going to the washroom, it’s just a matter of choice. I just go wash up before her just to go to the washroom. That itself is an ordeal. Every day she goes through that.
She said, reverend, why is life so hard? Why is life so hard? Yes, life can be very hard. And last week I met a person and their counselling was going through a divorce and finalizing their last moment. And he told me too, reverend is life gonna be like this continuously? What I’m feeling right now, is it going to be over? Is it going to be over after some time or is it going to continue? Life’s hard. And I met some KSM members last week and they told me about the relational problems within the church and how much hurt they give to each other and all kinds of problems. You know, just last week, whoever I met, all these problems there they were struggling with and then when I listened to all of them, what could I do? There is nothing for me to do. And that really made me helpless and their problems weighed down on me and it really kind of oppressed me in some ways. Yes, life is hard.
The Gift of Struggling
But because life is hard, we cannot run away from our problems. I’m temporary, we should do that. We can do that and we should do that. We should take off our eyes from our problems. Sometimes we need rest. We need to forget about all our problems. We don’t need to talk about problems all the time. So yes, sometimes we need to stay away from problems even though the problems just come to you, even if you don’t invite them. But sometimes we need to rest from problems. So that we can have the strength to deal with.
But we can never run away from our problems. You have to deal with them. Isaiah said today when you pass through the waters when you walk through the fire, he emphasized this worth through. Yes, we have to pass through life’s hardships. We have no choice. There is no way around. There’s no return. You had to walk through it, pass through it. We have to confront our problems. No choice. We wish that the problems may just disappear, but that is just always wished. They won’t just disappear. You have to pass through the waters. You have to walk through fire. That is courage. We need the courage to walk through it, but Isaiah also said, when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. That’s a promise. That’s what Isaiah said. Yes, you have to walk through it, but when you walk through it, I’ll be with you and the fire will not consume you. That is something that we need to hold on to, the promise. God will be with you when you pass through the waters. You shall not be burned when you walk through fire.
You need faith to walk through your problems and that faith will make you stronger. You will come out of the fire stronger. You can handle bigger challenges in life, not only you become strong. Also, you’ll get this wisdom to be able to see the treasure of life. There are many lessons that we need to learn from life, but after many lessons are hidden and these lessons, you can only learn through the hardships, so free. So not only you become strong, but you have this wisdom to be able to see the treasure of life. Don’t run away when the waves come at you. Go edit. You’ll be able to swim through the waves. You’ll be able to even enjoy the waves. God is with you. There is nothing for you to worry about. You are in God’s hands and you are precious in God’s sight. God said you are mine. You’ll never be deserted. Deserted you are mine. No one can touch you. Nothing can harm you.
You Were Given Life Because You Are Strong Enough to Live it
You don’t need to numb yourself with painkillers to deal with your suffering. That’s what people do, numb their nerves. You don’t need to numb yourself to deal with your pain and suffering. Real spirituality is not to numb your pain and suffering. When Jesus was on the cross, they tried to give this vinegar to numb his pain. Jesus refused it.
Real spirituality does not numb your nerves and numb your pain. The real spirituality makes everything come alive and even the suffering comes alive, but when suffering comes alive at the same time, the grace comes alive too, and you experienced the powerful presence of God’s grace. Suffering will only strengthen you. When you believe that God is with you, you’ll be more loving. You’ll be more joyful. You’ll be more hopeful and you will be resilient. If I perish, I perish. Ester said, if I perish, I perish. That is courage. That is the confidence and that kind of confidence and courage only come from faith. May God be with you all the leaders. You need this courage and strength and that’s what leadership is all about.