Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Sun Still Shines

While I was in college many years ago, I ran across a short yet meaningful poem entitled “The Rainy Day” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In the poem, the poet painted a picture of a rainy, dreary day and compared it to the storms that people face in their lives. We each have “cold, and dark, and dreary” moments in our lives. There have been so many times in my own life where I seemed to live in a perpetual period of “cold, and dark, and dreary” days.

Each day only reminds me of a mouldering past and the hopes of my “youth fall thick in the blast.” As I describe this to many of you, I am sure that you have faced or are facing these “cold, and dark, and dreary” days. They seem endless and are filled with hopelessness. However, at the end of the poem, Longfellow writes, “Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”

Even after painting such a bleak picture of a cold, dark and dreary day, Longfellow reminded us that in life, a little rain must fall. It is just part of living in this world. Because of our disobedience in the Garden, we doomed ourselves to life in a fallen world that is filled with darkness, cold and dreariness. We must endure trials and sorrows throughout our lives. However, all is not cold, dark and dreary.

Just like the last stanza of that poem, there is hope for us. As followers of Christ Jesus, we have a hope and promise of a life eternal with our Heavenly Father. We are not doomed to living a mouldering past. We received God’s mercy and salvation by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior and living a life dedicated to loving and worshiping God and loving our neighbors. We live with dread or fears that creep into our lives to steal what God has given us.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 116, “3 Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Please, Lord, save me!’ 5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! 6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. 7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. 8 He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears,my feet from stumbling.

As followers of Christ Jesus and children of a living, loving God, we know that we can lean on the everlasting arms of God and know that His grace will see us through even the darkest, coldest and dreariest days of our lives.

As I think back to the first few days of my illness, I felt that everything in my life had been ripped away from me. The only things I had left in my life were my faith and the love of my family, friends and faith family. Each reminded me that “behind the clouds is the sun still shining” and that the Lord would be there to save me from whatever I faced. My soul could rest again just knowing that the Lord was there and that He would see me through whatever was to come my way.

I, like Paul, felt the thorn in my side and I asked the Lord to take all of this away from me. I received the same answer from the Lord. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12, “8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It is because of the trials and sorrows that my faith became stronger and able to weather the storms of life. Each time I faced those cold, dark and dreary days, I knew that my Heavenly Father was there to save me from them and that He lives. 

One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Book of Job, Job responds to one of his friends, Bildad, in Job 19, “25 But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. 26 And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! 27 I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

For a long time, I wondered why I faced such a horrible illness and why I had to endure one thing after another. It seemed that I went from storm to storm every day. There was no sun shining behind the clouds. Each day seemed colder, darker and drearier than the last. My wife and I felt that 2018 was the worst year of our lives. We had so much taken away from us in such a short period of time. 

As I continued to lament my condition and sit in the midst of my own ash pile scraping my wounds, I began to realize that there will always be good days and bad days. There will be sunny days and there will be rainy days. But, there is one thing that will always remain - the fact that my Redeemer lives. That one immutable fact remains and will always remain as a constant in my life. I know I will face other situations that may be worse than what I faced in 2018, but I know that through my own weakness, I find strength through the power of Christ that works through me.

After hearing my story and how close I came to dying, all have said that I have a beautiful testimony to give to those around me. When things are at their coldest, darkest and dreariest, I tell those facing their rainy days to remember the words of the psalmist, “7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. 8 He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears,my feet from stumbling.

Your soul should always be at rest knowing that the Lord is always good to His children and will not allow harm to come to you. He will always provide a way and will guide your steps. Each step is just one more towards the prize that lies ahead for each of His children, the gift of eternal life with the Father. We must continue to believe that “behind the clouds is the sun still shining.” For His children, that sun is the Father and His glory brightens our day and illuminates our path. We just need to remember that when we face the fears, uncertainties and doubts of this fallen world with the courage, certainty and conviction that God is there to rescue us from “the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles” that we face sometimes on a daily basis.

I know that it is very difficult to face trials and sorrows with courage, certainty and conviction when it seems that everything is lost, but you must always remember the words of God when He spoke to Joshua, in Joshua 1, about leading the Israelites into a dangerous land beset with enemies all around them, “5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

As new trials and sorrows come into your life, God’s grace will be all that you need. When you are weak and see another rainy day ahead, you will find the courage, certainty and conviction to stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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