Cry with those who cry and laugh with those who laugh.
MAY 15, 2023
Cry with those who cry and laugh with those who laugh. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Being adopted into the family of God is not about doing more or trying harder. It’s about being welcomed by God because of his radical grace, free from the penalties of sin and never alone in your suffering, that grace is what Key Life is all about.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, by the way, I hope you had a great weekend and I hope that your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, we’re pausing in our study in the Book of Acts to study the Bible in a little bit different way. A book I wrote came out fairly recently, it’s called Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. And given the fact that I don’t want to waste all of the work that I did on that book, I’m going to make it do double duty on this broadcast. So, for the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at some of the themes in that particular book. And last week if you were with us, we started talking about loneliness, and the curse of loneliness for all of us. I’m going to talk some more about that, and we’ll see what the Bible has to say. But first, let’s pray. Father, we come into your presence and we come recognizing that you came into our presence and you identified with us. Father, when we’re lonely, we remember you were lonely. When we’re afraid, we remember your fear. When we face death, we remember how you face death. When the pain is bad, we remember your pain in the incarnation. And we’re glad that we have a priest, a high priest who can identify with us. Father, you know everybody who’s listening to this broadcast, the hard places and the soft places. We’re glad that you are a God who is good all the time and sovereign over both. And then Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. They call him Reverend and he’s not. Father, forgive him his sins. We would see Jesus and Him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. The curse of loneliness, you know, I’ve lived with that most of my life. Part of that comes because I’m ugly and my mother doesn’t dress me properly. And there are things about me that irritate people, and sometimes that means you have to walk a road by yourself or get the stuff fixed. And I’ve fixed some of it and still found out that I was lonely. I was lonely because of what I do. If you are a religious professional, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re a pastor or a seminary teacher or a missionary, you know that there’s a lonely place where you walk. It’s lonely for me, and it always has been, and it’s a part of where I am. People think that I’m different. People think that I’m holy. People think that I am so religious, I can’t identify with who they are. And so, they say nice, sweet things about me when I’m around and avoid me as much as possible. I talked to the Lord about that and he said, I know son, I know, and I realized he really did. Talk about loneliness, jesus walked in loneliness. You remember in John when everybody was leaving him? We talked about that last week, and it is one passage of Scripture that is so filled with pathos that I can hardly stand it. Everybody was, the crowds had been following him around cause he was doing magic tricks for them. And they liked that when people were healed, they liked what he said about the bad Romans. But then he started saying things that were more offensive than that and they started leaving, the crowd, except the disciples. And so, it’s Jesus and the 12. And then he says, are you going to leave too? That’s so sad, it really is. And it reflects as much as any text in the entire Bible the humanness, of the Incarnation. Jesus himself was saying, if you leave, nobody will be with me. And then Peter, and that’s one of the reasons that Jesus loved Peters said, what are you crazy? Where are we going to go? You have the word of life. And so, when I have my own loneliness, I go before the Father and say, this hurts. And he says, I know, but he also fixes it. I have brothers and sisters in Christ who know all about me and don’t worship at my altar. In fact, I have an entire staff at Key Life who are exactly that way. They not only work for Key Life, they don’t work for me, they work for the Lord and they know it, and they’re honest, and they’re authentic, and they know my sin and they love me anyway. And so, when I come to work, I don’t come to a hostile place of loneliness, I come to work with my friends, my friends who have stood with me so often when others wouldn’t. My friends who have decided that we’re going to be friends, and I’ve got a bunch more like that, but it didn’t happen until I disabused people. You know, if you’ve got a deep voice like mine and you have Doctor before your name or Reverend and you stand in pulpit, six feet above everybody else with a microphone and a spotlight on you, people, people don’t want to have a beer with you. And I don’t drink beer, which doesn’t help either. And so, you’ve got to work at it and you’ve got to have some people that you build a relationship that goes for a lifetime. And I have those relationships and I can’t tell you how glad I am for them, but sometimes I still walk a lonely road. And so, when you talk about lament, that is a part of the lament. And we were talking last week about death. And I thought about the first time I had an encounter with death, in my immediate family. I may have told you this, but it happened when I was doing a series of sermons at a number of churches in Tennessee. I got the call that my father had been taken to the hospital and was dying. And I lost it in front of some pastors of those churches, but there was one older pastor there. He was very heavy and I remember he hugged me while I cried, and then he said this to me, and I’ve never forgotten it, son. I’m so sorry, but don’t waste it. Remember that when you speak to ten people, seven of them will have a broken heart. I’ve tried to remember that throughout the many years of ministry. It’s just not that we all have broken hearts though, we all have broken dreams and broken lives and have gone in directions we never expected. Experienced broken relationships that can’t be fixed and sin that has broken us and we can’t shake. Someone has said, don’t forget God, don’t forget that God is not surprised and has no perspiration on his upper lip. Don’t forget that God is weaving a story of meaning in the mundane, the painful, and the fearful.
All things really do work together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28. And so, as we talk about the curse of loneliness, something that all of us experienced to one degree or another, one of the things you ought to remember is that we bring light into that darkness and others bring light into our darkness. I’ve written about this and talked about it a lot, but at least it should be mentioned here. People in the light bring the laughter and joy of the light into the darkness. When I was a young pastor, I simply assumed that when people were going through difficult times, that I was called to share the difficulty, be somber, and reflect the sadness of the situation. After all, Paul said.
That we were called to rejoice with those who rejoice. And weep with those who weep.
That’s Romans 12:15. But what if we’re called to rejoice with those who weep and to weep with those who rejoice? I remember when I was in the hospital after a heart attack and everybody was praying for me and scared, and I was too, and my best friend came to visit. Do you know what he did? He said, don’t do this to me. And then he told me a joke. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming our exploration of the Biblical themes that informed his newest book, Laughter and Lament. Today we talked about the curse of loneliness, but how people of the light, that’s you and me, bring laughter and joy of the light into the darkness. Good stuff, but still so much more to explore. And that’s exactly what we’ll do again tomorrow. Join us, won’t you?
God himself stepped out of heaven into the womb of a teenage girl to be born into his Creation, to be a ransom for a lost and dying world. Without faith in Jesus and his sacrifice in our place, we are lost. We will become more like our perfect Savior because we are being made into the image of God daily by the Holy Spirit. But all the good works in the world, won’t save us, only Jesus does that, that gives us room to be honest about our failings.
Well, that bracing excerpt is from a brilliant article by Chad West called Be Not a Jerk. And you can find that article in the new edition of Key Life Magazine. It’s new, it’s fantastic, and it’s free. So, claim your copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine and if you’d like to mail your request go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. Finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.