Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday Praise and Worship Message - Jubilation

I have had many opportunities over the past couple of months to reflect upon what my family and I have had to deal with. I have often thought about the conversations with the doctors, specialists and a whole host of others who worked to save my life. There were so many times when fear seemed to be the only emotion that I felt during the long periods of treatment and hospital stays. That fear came from the unknown.

In the early days of my illness, there were many unanswered questions and too many unknowns to count. Each doctor and specialist literally prayed for guidance and hoped that the medications and treatments that they prescribed would save my life. As I spent more and more time with each of the members of the team that was assembled to save my life, I began to learn more and more about them. I learned that there were things about my case and condition that caused them to be fearful and to worry. I could see and feel their doubts as we talked about the next small step in my treatment and ultimately in my road to full recovery. 

Some of the doctors weren’t sure if I would make it through the ordeal. The infections that were destroying my bones and burrowing further and further inside of me seemed, at times, to be gaining the upper hand. There were many doubts and my odds of surviving fluctuated like the stock market on a bad day. If I were in Las Vegas, the oddsmakers wouldn’t be giving me even odds at all. Many would say that if they bet on the likelihood of me surviving, it would be a sucker bet. In short, betting on me to live was a waste of money.

Over time and with the good Lord’s strength and hand, things started to change and the odds of me surviving improved. The doctors and I began to believe that I would make it through this illness and that no more surgeries and medications would be necessary. I had finally begun to feel joy rather than fear.

When I left my hospital room and said my good-byes to the staff and Slim, my IV pole that I had been tied to for so long, things had improved, but I was cautioned. They could easily go the other way. I still wasn’t out of the woods. There were days and some weeks that were filled with more fear, uncertainty and doubt. I began to wonder whether or not my joy would continue.

As I continued to reflect and think about those days, I began to see how fear can give way to joy. It is like going through a long, dark tunnel. You don’t know what is inside or lurking in the shadows. You just know one thing. You don’t want to be there. You continue to grope in the dark trying to find your way through it all. Sometimes you stumble. While other times, you manage to find the hidden obstacle and just barely avoid it. But, you take those steps by faith.

It is only through faith that we can experience joy in our lives. The children had faith that God would provide a Messiah to save them. They waited and waited and waited still longer. In God’s perfect timing, He gave the world His son, Jesus, to save all of us from the punishment for our sins and iniquities. 

In the second chapter of Luke’s gospel, Luke writes, “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!” he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’”

When we face fear, uncertainty or doubt in our lives, it is only natural for us to be afraid. We don’t like things that surprise us or present us with unknowns. In fact, the last thing we want in our lives is to be scared or to live in fear. We like things in nice, neat categories and undisturbed. We prefer to go about our way without question or doubt. But, our lives are far, far from that. We are surrounded by things that could go from good to bad within literally seconds. 

When we face those moments, we have nothing to rely on except our faith in God and in His Son, Christ Jesus. No matter what happens in our lives, the only assurance is that God is there and that He is with us every moment of every day and watches over us. So, when the angel appeared to the shepherds, it was something unexpected and unknown. The natural reaction was fear. The angel, knowing that, immediately said to them, “Don’t be afraid.”

I am sure that the shepherds’ fears began to ratchet down a bit. But, what really caused their blood pressure to return to normal was the angel’s next statement. He said to them that he brought “good news that will bring great joy to all the people.”

Their faith in the prophecy and their faith in God allowed them to feel joy rather than the daily dread that they probably felt from time to time. They were just like us. They had fears, uncertainties and doubts in their lives. They walked through similar long, dark tunnels hoping to find the light and the end of their ordeals.

We just need to keep in mind that sometimes we have to walk through that long, dark tunnel in order to better appreciate the light and to realize that hope is always there. It just takes a little time and a lot of faith to see it through to the end. 

As you go through the toils and burdens of your daily life, remember the words of the angel. You have nothing to fear and so much to gain if you just remain faithful and know the Word and promises of the Lord. When Joshua was given the awesome responsibility of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, God, in the first chapter of Joshua, said to him, “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. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.

So, always be strong and courageous. Always trust and have faith in the Lord. He will see you through the longest, darkest of tunnels. You have nothing to fear. Remain joyful in the face of adversity. Be filled with light even during the darkest of times.

When you do all these things, you will definitely experience a peace that surpasses all understanding and be able to stand firm in His grace.

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

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