Love Endures Disappointment
Love Endures Disappointment
When I was in High School I used to wake up for breakfast and watch Good Morning America every morning. I must have been a senior in High School when Good Morning America came on one morning with what the show said was startling news. There was a new invention that would change the world that would as we know it and it would be revealed soon. This was some sort of transportation device. And within a couple of weeks the device would be revealed on the show. Being a bit of a science fiction fan and futurist I was really excited. What could it be? A flying car? A new space shuttle? A levitating skate board also known as a hover board? Every morning for weeks Good Morning America teased this new invention, building up anticipation. The day of the big reveal I awoke excited, ready for the world to change. I turned on Good Morning America only to find that the morning was not as good as I anticipated it would be.
The invention that was revealed that morning was the Segway. Invented by Dean Kamen the Segway is a two wheeled self balancing scooter with a hand stand that the user pushes forward or to either side to direct the scooter. There is a picture of the scooter on the back of your bulletin if you are not familiar with it.
I got to say after weeks of anticipation,
I was more than a little disappointed.
I thought to myself, “an electric scooter? Is that it? Why not just walk, ride a bike or take the bus?” I was more than a little disappointed.
Perhaps today you are facing more serious disappointments in your lives than a big let down on Good Morning America. Perhaps you are facing disappointment in your work, in your marriage, in your family, in your relationships. Proverbs 18:14 declares, “ The human spirit can endure sickness but a crushed spirit what man can bear?” Perhaps your Spirit is sick today. Sick from disappointment and despair.
But I have good news today.
The good news is that Love endures disappointment because God’s Love is being poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Today I have one point.
- How God works through our trials to pour his love into our hearts.
Paul tells us the process by which God pours His love into our heart. Paul tells us that we rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces endurance. The word for endurance here means setting a steadfast course till you reach the end. It is the marathon runner who runs even as her muscles burn in the last mile. It is the soldier who walks into enemy fire to rescue a fallen brother in arms. It is a husband who keeps his word to take care of his sick wife till her last breath.
Paul tells us that endurance produces character. The word for character here can be more literally translated as “proof” or “evidence”. Often trials in the scripture are described as a refining fire, by which precious metal is separated from ore. 1 Peter 1:6 says , “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In a real way the scriptures suggest that the evidence of our faith is not our doctrine, or our works, or even miracles, but it is the character that is shaped by what we believe which leads to our works.
Paul says that character produces hope. There seemed to be a logical progression up to when Paul gets to character. We understand how suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, but how does character produce hope? There doesn’t seem to be a logical connection. Being here at Calvin has taught me what Paul meant.
As I have listened to our Sunday schools and observed folks at Calvin I believe new families come to Calvin because they see the genuine faith of our older saints which is more precious than gold. There are those who have built this church who’s genuine faith and kindness inspire us and give us hope that we too can overcome our struggles. There wisdom, kindness, and hard work warms our hearts and makes us believe that God is for us and not against us.
A couple of weeks ago I got see one of these saints at work. We had just finished praying for the church as we do every Sunday before worship. And this person, who is in her later years, ran into one of our youth, who is in middle school and sings on the praise band. She went up to this youth and just started telling her how much she appreciated her singing and her ministry. I cannot tell you how much this act of kindness moved me. To see this woman who was separated by a good eighty years from this youth encourage this youth to pursue her gifts in ministry, it is one of the most profound things I have seen in the course of my ministry. I just got a sense that a time is coming where we will worship in Spirit and Truth. The nations will rise up and come to his house for his house shall be a house of prayer for all people. Why do new families come here? Children and youth see the genuineness of your faith which shines like gold and they ask their parents to come back. It is not a great mystery. We all know children are attracted to shinny things. And the faith of our seasoned saints shines like a light on a hill. We see Christ lifted up and we see that he draws all people to Himself (John 12:32).
Being at Calvin I have come to realize that our character doesn’t give us hope it gives those around us hope. Character producing hope doesn’t make sense to us because we are thinking about hope for ourselves and not hope for others. But when we think about those who give us hope it is because we admire their character. But we rather be inspired than be the ones to inspire. Because we don’t know how to have the character of those we admire.
But it is hard to believe that we can be refined in that way. With all the problems we are going through in our own lives it is hard to believe. Those we admire are saints and we are not saints. But in the Presbyterian Church we do not bestow sainthood on people as the Catholic Church does. Because we believe the we are all saints ( 1 Peter 2:9) All who confess Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in their hearts are considered saints. We are all saints and priests. We are the priest hood of believers. And we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). But these saints are not better than us they have just gone before us. They are simply further down the road. And they are encouraging us that we can get to where they are.
These folks have endured disappointments. They have endured their heartbreaks. And they have needs just like we do. They want to be loved just like we do. They are lonely and grieve just like we do. And yet they serve others and do not care if they are seen. They help us and make us look good and don’t ask for the credit. Though their bodies grow older their Spirits gain strength. How do they do it? Paul tells us;
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” The word here for, “poured out” in the Greek is in the perfect tense. And whenever I find something in the perfect tense I have to point it out because in English we lack this tense. The perfect tense indicates something that happened in the past that continues to happen in the future. Paul is saying that God’s Love was poured out when we welcomed the Holy Spirit into our hearts by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ. And His love continues to be poured out through the Holy Spirit. There is a river of living water flowing from the heavens into our lives if we would lift up our hearts and be filled, and we would not be disappointed. He is as my minister growing up said, The Holy Spirit is the near side of God. He comes to us and makes us know that we are not alone. That God is real, and He is Love, and he will not fail us, because love never ends. But when he approaches us nothing that is unholy can be made room for in our lives because we cannot control him. But if we welcome Him in he will fill us in time.
The scriptures also use the perfect tense to describe Jesus, our crucified Lord. For the longest time I thought when Jesus rose from the dead he showed his disciples his wounds to satisfy them. To show them that he really was their teacher who had been crucified. I thought that when he ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father that he healed the wounds so he would be perfect. But the scriptures use the perfect tense to describe Jesus as crucified. He was crucified and is crucified forever. If he is not ashamed of his scars so why should we be ashamed of ours?
And I see now in my Spirit Jesus the crucified Lord. From His wounds rivers of living water flow into a thirsty world to prepare the harvest. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few Lord would you send out laborers into your harvest? Father would you glorify your Son so you may be glorified? Jesus He is Lord. High and lifted up. But how did he get there?
He got there by sharing the Last Supper with his disciples. He got there by breaking his body for us and sheeding his blood for us. He got there by being betrayed in a garden. Not only did he die for the world, he died for his friends. As Jesus says in John, “No greater love has a man than this to lay his life down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Jesus’ disciples were his friends, he shared his heart with them, but in the end even Peter, the most devoted and passionate of them, scattered, as the cross loomed before him. Peter was the one who pulled the knife in the Garden ready to face an angry crowd to protect Jesus (John 18:10). But Jesus told him to put his knife down. Peter was ready to die for Jesus but he was not ready for Jesus to die for him. Peter betrayed his master and friend because Jesus disappointed him. Because Jesus wasn’t who he thought he was. He was the crucified Lord not a military leader, and because he was disappointed Peter fled. But Jesus saw the weakness in Peter’s heart and understood. He said the day would come when Peter would turn again and strengthen His brother (Luke 22:32). And Peter rose up to be a leader in the church. Because while Peter was disappointed in Jesus, Jesus was not disappointed in Peter.
Even with Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus and handed Him over to be crucified, Jesus was not disappointed. When Judas led the mob into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, do what you came to do.” (Matthew 26:50) Though Judas had turned against him Jesus still considered him a friend. Judas would bear the eternal consequences of what he had done but Jesus was not disappointed even with Judas. And whatever you have done, whatever you think of yourself, whatever hurts in your hearts, Jesus is not disappointed with you. He bid you come to Him. He bid you repent and believe. He bid that you lift up your hearts and be filled with the Spirit . Because love bears all things, believes, all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love endures, love endures, love endures disappointment. Hallelujah and praise be to God.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.