Hebrews 11:1-16;  2 Corinthians 4:7-12;

“Life is Hard…But God is Good” (10-26-14)

By the Rev. Bob Gochenour

 

Two New York businessmen decided to see if they could make some money introducing BUNGEE-JUMPING in Mexico.

They invested some money to build a platform—

So participants could dive off and spring up and down on the bungee cords.

Time came for a trial run—one of the men demonstrated this new sport.

He put on the safety harness and dove off the platform:

          He did a beautiful swan dive into free space;

          When he came up the 1st time: he had a bloody nose;

          When he came up the 2nd time: he had a black eye;

          When he came up the 3rd time: his ear was cut;

His partner called out to him: “are you OK?”

When he went down the 4th time—he called out to his partner:

          “Do you know what a PINATA is?”

LIFE IS HARD!

Dangers are all around: international, national, local, personal.

Can you say these 3 words? Life is Hard! It is truth…but it is a half truth.

Life is Hard…BUT GOD IS GOOD!

Can you say these 3 words? God is good!

How can we claim that God is Good? BY FAITH

HEBREWS TELLS US WHAT FAITH IS:

          “The assurance of things hoped for;”

          “The conviction of things not seen;”

          The ability to see the invisible in the visible;

          The awareness to see the eternal in the earthly;

          The knowledge that God is present in every moment;

          The understanding that though life is hard—God is good!

Hebrews provides us with role models of “people with faith.”

By faith: Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice to God.

By faith: Enoch pleased God.

By faith: Noah built an ark and rescued his family/animals.

By faith: Abraham moved to a new land.

By faith: Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

By faith: Isaac lived in the promised land.

By faith: Jacob continued to believe in the promise.

“All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw them and greeted them.” (Hebrews 11:13)

They lived out the definition of faith:

“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

They accepted being strangers and foreigners on the earth.

They desired a better country: a heavenly country!

They saw God’s reality in the midst of their difficult journeys.

They knew this reality: LIFE IS HARD…BUT GOD IS GOOD!

HOW CAN WE HAVE THIS KIND OF FAITH?

WE NEED TO KNOW THE SOURCE OF FAITH: JESUS CHRIST!

 

Leonard Sweet tells this story.

He was speaking to the World Methodist Congress in Rio de Janeiro in 1996

After the Congress he flew to Minaus and took a tour up the Amazon River.

Two days up river, their boat took them by an Amazonian village that looked all spruced up. He asked his guide, why did the village look so nice?

Hollywood just left,” the tour guide explained.

Universal Studios had just finished shooting their movie: “Anaconda” and as a gift to the villagers, the fixed up the village.

Sweet asked: “I didn’t think the Amazon had anacondas.”

“Oh yes, and the Amazon has some big ones. The anaconda is the largest snake in the world and can grow to 35 feet long and weigh between 300-400 lbs. An anaconda can get as big as a cow.”

The tour guide enjoyed telling these tourists many anaconda stories.

This one is unforgettable!

It seems that a couple decades ago, a Quaker missionary and his entourage were going down the Amazon river to Minaus for supplies.

After getting only 2 days from the port city of Minaus, the missionary noticed that this one Amazonian village was in complete and utter chaos.

Villagers were crying, screaming, yelling, running frantically to and fro and brandishing machetes.

Stopping his boat to see if he could be of any help, the Quaker missionary discovered that an anaconda had just attacked the village, taking a mother and her infant daughter with it. The villagers had driven the anaconda into a corner, where it was contentedly resting and digesting its human meal.

The missionary knew he had to do something.

So he hurried back to his boat, reached into his supply bin and got his pistol.

The Quaker missionary rushed back to where the anaconda was resting and lifted his pistol.

Suddenly he noticed something: he had only one bullet in the chamber.

It was too late to return for more bullets—he knew he had to make this one shot count.

He steadied his hand and aimed for right between the eyes.

When his hand got as calm as he could get it—he pulled the trigger.

BULL’S EYE! He hit the snake right between the eyes.

And that’s when literally all hell broke loose…

The anaconda began to release his dying fury on everything around it.

For the next 7 hours that rampaging anaconda careened from corner to corner of that village, taking down as much as he could.

Even though he had been shot between the eyes—the rampage continued.

After 7 hours of total chaos—the anaconda finally collapsed and died.

What is the meaning of this true story?

This is a metaphor for the Christian life!

In the crucifixions and resurrection of Jesus—

the serpent has already been slain;

God has won the victory over sin and death;

the devil has been shot between the eyes;

we know how the story ends;

we know that God has won the victory;

We know that life is hard—

We are living in the time between the shot between the eyes and the death;

We are living in the 7 hours of chaos—when the anaconda is flailing around

In the throes of death, trying to destroy as much as he possibly can;

 

We are living in the time of sheer hell—when the devil who has already been defeated is trying to destroy us with all of his wiles.

We are living in the time between the resurrection and the consummation.

We are in the “in between time.”

Life is hard…but God is good!

If we know Jesus—we know the One who has conquered the devil.

If we know Jesus—we know the One who gives us faith. 

If we know Jesus—we know the One who overcomes our hard life.

If we know Jesus—we know the One who makes life Good.

Life is hard: Cain killed Abel

God is Good: God made Abel righteous.

Life is Hard: Enoch was 376 years old.

God is Good: Enoch never died.

Life is Hard: God destroyed the wicked world with a flood.

God is Good: God rescued Noah and his family with the ark.

Life is Hard: God called Abraham to a foreign country.

God is good: God made Abraham the father of many nations.

Life is Hard: Sarah was barren.

God is Good: God gave her a son, Isaac.

Life is Hard: Jesus died on the cross.

God is Good: he rose from the grave and conquered death.

“O grave, where is your victory; o death where is tour sting?”

Life is Hard: we are oppressed on every side;

                   The anaconda is on the rampage;

                   The devil is attacking us with all his strength…

God is Good: we have Jesus Christ walking with us every day!

Paul offers us the same message in his letter to the Corinthians.

We need to use this as a responsive worship experience:

Leader:  “we are afflicted in every way;”    R: Life is hard

Leader: “but not crushed”                           R: God is Good

Leader: “we are perplexed”                         R: Life is Hard

Leader: “but not driven to despair”            R: God is Good

Leader: “we are persecuted”                       R: Life is hard

Leader: “but not forsaken”                         R: God is Good

Leader: “we are struck down”                     R: Life is Hard

Leader: “but not destroyed”                        R: God is Good

 

Leader: “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus”

R: Life is Hard

Leader: “so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies”

R: God is Good

Leader: “for while we live, we are always being given up to death”

R: Life is Hard

Leader: “so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh”

R: God is Good

Leader: “so death is at work in us”             R: Life is Hard

Leader: “but life in you”                             R: God is Good

 

GOD IS GOOD: WE KNOW WHO JESUS IS!

                   WE HAVE FAITH IN JESUS;

                   WE HAVE ASSURANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR;

                   WE HAVE THE CONVICTION OF THINGS NOT SEEN!