closeup of woman cryingThe other day I was listening to a preacher close a sermon about pain. The preacher preached about the very real struggle with pain and suffering that we all have to go encounter in this life. In typical African American style, the preacher closed the sermon with a “celebration.” Here the preacher resolved the pain by pointing to being “hooked-up.”

The preacher then looked through the congregation and talked about someone who lost a child, but now had another one. Someone lost a job, but now that one had a better job. There was someone who got diagnosed with a disease, but there was a misdiagnoses. And then the close came with “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Too Quick a Jump to the Gravy

This sermon felt like it was jumped to the gravy too quickly. This was a jump that didn’t take into account the necessity of experiencing the pain. The emotional release will be forced or superficial if the fullness of the pain is not experienced.

One of the things that a sermon can do is help to model correct thinking. Correct thinking would not limit the need to experience pain. Sometimes our people think and/or act as if it is a sign of lack of faith to grieve or acknowledge hurt. Whether one has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or has experienced the loss of a loved one, grief and pain are necessary and needed. Yes, it is even inevitable. Some of us may even question God at these times of intense sorrow. All of this is expected and needed. We cannot in our preaching make people believe that they will not experience pain in this life.

Joy Tied to Good outcome

Another problem in this sermon is that the experience of joy was tied to a good outcome in this world. The one who lost a child now has another one. Setting aside the problematic and incorrect thought that one child could replace another, the joy comes from a good outcome down here. The person should be happy because they got a better job down here. They should be happy because they got hooked up down here.

We live in an era where the Christian life is about getting hooked up. But the reality is that we don’t always get hooked up down here. Ask Paul who never had the thorn in his flesh taken away, even though he greatly desired it to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Ask Zechariah who died between the porch and the alter (Matthew 23:35). Ask John the Baptist who’s head was on the plate in a banquet. (Matthew 14:8-11)

The simple fact of the matter is that sometimes Grandma will die. Sometimes we will lose our job. Sometimes bad things will happen. We cannot in our preaching give the impression that good will always win in the end “down here.” Sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous languish. Sometimes the fornicating pastor gets the big church and the faithful one gets fired from his modest one. Yes it is true, you may not get that house. It is not guaranteed to you.

Importance of Incarnation
The realities of this thought makes the incarnation even more important. Jesus didn’t sidestep the pains of this life to live in a lap of luxury. Jesus came and lived amongst us all. He didn’t sidestep the experience of the poor. Then Jesus died and even felt betrayed by God which wrenched from his lips the cry “My God My God Why…?” (Matthew 27:46)

The good news is not that we do not have to have pain. The good news is that Jesus is there with us in the pain. The good news is that Jesus helps us to endure the pain. And the Good news, yes, is that Jesus overcame the worst that life can give and now offers that to us. Yes we will have pain in this world, but we have someone to walk with us, talk with us, and to tell us that we are his own. Yes we will have pain in this world, Jesus has overcome the world. And yes it is still true, “weeping may endure for a night…but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

6 thoughts on “The Easy Sermon Resolution – Don’t Preach For The Easy Shout

  1. Elijah Hall says:

    Well said sir! There are many doctrines prevalent that would have believers think that they suffer because of lack of faith. So then when this believer suffers in their trials they think something is wrong with them. The word of God allows to know that all who come to Christ will at some point experience suffering. James said to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials!: The chapter goes on to expound on how trials benefit us. It also speaks on wisdom and the one who lacks it asking for it. I believe this isn’t just for the sake of gaining more wisdom but receiving an understanding that though the trial may not feel good, it will benefit you. ALL things work together for good… Rom. 8:28.

  2. Vernetia Miller says:

    And let the church say, “Amen!”

    Thank you for this excellent lesson on the topic of pain and the need to teach that sometimes it endures for way more than a night but regardless how long it endures, Jesus is present in our struggles.

    I also like the illustration you provided when you said, “Ask John the Baptist who’s head was on the plate in a banquet.”

  3. Brady L Williams says:

    I do agree that pain and suffering is a part of a believer’s walk. I also agree that good preaching should always remind us that this present world is not our home and that we are just pilgrims traveling through. Be blessed.

  4. Excellent point. We cannot easily dismiss suffering with other blessings in this life. Everything doesn’t always end up better. And even if things do get better, it doesn’t always mask the pain we felt in those moments. Sometimes our reward is not seen on this side of eternity.

  5. PrescottJayErwin says:

    GREAT observations, Bro. Sherman. I’ve been guilty of jumping too quickly to the celebratory resolution. Thanks for the reminder!

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