Some of you from St. John United Methodist in Hopkinsville, Ky. may know that this has been the summer of sick mothers for me and my wife.
I tell you this not to make excuses because there is no need for excuses.
At the beginning of summer my mother found out she has breast cancer. It floored her and it was upsetting for the rest of us.
Like all sickness that had the possibility of being prolonged, you just work through it one stage at a time. She had surgery and we all nervously awaited the outcome.
The outcome was good…stage 1A, which means a low degree of development and even more good news, it has not spread and she did not have to take radiation or chemotherapy.
You may have seen the plural “mothers” in the first sentence.
My wife’s mother was the next one to have sickness.
Almost a month ago, she had indigestion that would not go away. She went to the local hospital only to be rushed to a larger facility where they determined she probably had some loosened plaque pass through an artery. She went back home only to have recurring symptoms and at this hospital visit, they did dual heart bypass surgery.
My wife was in the hospital so much with her mother that she was in the hospital more than at home—several days around the clock.
There will be more recuperation to come. My wife’s mother is 86 and her age requires her to have round-the-clock care at home by rotating family members. My wife’s rotation will be coming up again in a day or so.
Jesus said in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.”
This is where so many people struggle. Their thinking works like this. I love Jesus and Jesus loves me. Jesus will protect me from all harm. Life will be a “bowl of cherries” from now on.
It does not work like that.
One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is “God won’t give you any more than you can handle.” Those words which come from 1 Corinthians 10:13 sound so comforting when you are going through times of trouble but one needs to look at the context of the verse for the whole truth. The context reveals that this idea is referring to tempting times. The fuller context is “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Most people misquote the verse so it can provide comfort in the midst of difficult times.
The truth is John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.”
It is stressful when trouble comes. Sometimes the trouble can be so severe that you begin to question why it is happening. Some people even begin to question the existence of God. Just the other day, I had a man tell me his sister has lost her faith completely because her son committed suicide. She was a Catholic and at the time of the suicide her church had a hardline stance against suicide.* She could not believe anymore after the suicide happened. To this day, she does not believe in God.
In talking to my mother-in-law this morning I made the comment “I sure don’t want to have to have open heart surgery. I don’t think it is any fun.” My comment was made to lighten up the topic but she came back with the line, “Other people have it far worse than me.”
That is so true but when trouble comes, it can be so self-centering. I took her comment as a sign that she would pull through this recovery and get better, maybe because she knows that God is on her side. She is beginning to see that others around her have it far worse and the focus is going off of her onto others.
You know God is on our side. We do not have to worry about ourselves that much. He has us covered.
The rest of the verse John 16:33 says “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Pastor Chan says to “keep on, fight the good fight, pray continuously and do not grow weary.”
And always remember Jesus making that strong statement, “I have overcome the world.”
His strength is our salvation in our times of trouble.
*The Catholic Church has in recent years modified its harsh stance on suicide.