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Seeing the Good - By Pastor Thomas Engel

When you are going through a difficult time, you call up an urgent session of your support team made up of your two best friends to meet for coffee, so you can vent. After all that’s what “besties” are for. We need to dump our stuff somewhere.

You dump, and they dump. This dumping with feedback is called “support.”

After listening to you, your “besties” give feedback with some things like: “See the good.” “Think positive.” “Silver linings in a dark cloud.” “Look at the bright side of things.” “Happiness is a choice.”

To be sure, I’m all for “besties” getting together. But, I’m going to get picky here with some of their advice.

Don’t get me wrong. They have supported you, and I’m for seeing the good and thinking positive.

Basically, my problem with seeing the good and thinking totally positive is that life is never all good and positive.

It’s not that we should not be going in the direction of good and positive, but in life’s realities, there are always bad things and negatives.

Just by seeing the good and thinking positive does not make bad things and the negatives go away.

I like to think that we can fix everything and make the “bad” things and negatives of life go away, but some bad things and negatives have their way of lingering around.

And as proactive as we can be, new problems have their way of popping up and even exploding before us.

We have lived long enough to know that life is just one problem after another.

If we could plot life on a graph, any life will have the good and bad with the positives and negatives and with some days going off the charts with either a leap of joy or a dive into sadness.

One of the sayings that one of your “besties” told you is that happiness is a choice. It’s true that we can choose to do anything.

Happiness is a choice, but on one day we hear of a loss that makes us sad.

Having sad feelings to a loss is natural.

It’s obvious that telling a person going through a loss, “You can choose to be happy about this,” would be nonsense.

It just goes that a loss makes a sad.

Life will always give us a range of thoughts and emotions.

So, what do we do in our lives that will always have ups and downs?

We need to answer this question because life can take us in all directions, and we want to know that we are more than okay as it does.

As we are dealing with the complexities of life, we are not to sure what we are to do.

Uncertainties cause anxiety.

Anxiety causes fear.

If we live in fear, we are leaving ourselves open to the bad and the negatives.

Since life always has its way of spiraling us down, don’t we want something bigger than what cause us to fear?

How about having something that no matter what happens to us, come what may, we can know that we are and will be okay? More than okay?

Let’s say we are walking in total bad times. I mean we always have some good, but we have a King David type of thing going on.

Like him, we are walking in the valley of the shadow of death.

At one point, as a king, David had all his enemies and even his own son out to get him.

David said this at one time:

“For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.”

Imagine how your “besties” would react if you told them that.

But, let’s do that. For a moment, let’s take the worst case scenario and see what works there.

Nothing is worse than having everything out to get you.

If I felt if overwhelmed my life, which I do at times, I probably would be describing it all as walking in the valley of the shadow of death.

If something works in the worst possible case, it has to work in all times and places. Makes sense. Right?

King David saw evil all around him, but he said he would not fear it.

Why is that?

With bringing up David, I think you know where I’m going with this, but let’s go through this a little to be sure.

From our readings for today, I found two words that caught my attention because they are quite opposites of each other, “Cursed” and “Blessed.”

Here are two quick definitions of these two words keeping with how we have been talking about life:

“Cursed” goes in the direction of bad and negative all the way to downright evil that can lead us to despair where all is lost.

“Blessed” is more than good, positive, and feelings of happiness. When we are blessed, we have joy in all circumstances.

Let’s look first at the Old Testament Reading where it says, “Cursed is the man who puts his faith in man.”

Do you see the wording here?

Let me put it this way, a person is not to put faith in other people.

Or to say in another way, a human is not to put faith in anything human.

This is where it gets tricky.

Like we said, we have to love our “besties,” and we know that they mean to give so much help when they are giving us support with their advice.

We can find that their advice has some merit about seeing good, thinking positive, and choosing happiness.

Although it’s here that we have to remember that we need to ask the question, “Where is the advice coming from?”

When we are asking for support, where is our help coming from?

I don’t want to disparage anything, but we do need to be careful here.

For instance, we have government, and we need it, but governments have been known to be corrupt.

We need science, but science as much as it tries to be exact, it finds that it can’t at times.

We need money, but money can’t buy us everything. The Beatles were right. “Money can’t but me love.”

We like our technology when it works, but when it doesn’t, it can be a real headache.

We need medicine, but it can’t cure all of our ills.

I don’t mind reading a self-help book as we talk about good advice. But, the self-help gurus don’t have all the answers.

We have to talk again about that spiraling down. Doesn’t it seem that the world is going down with no signs of hope for it?

I have to admit that I could vent for hours of all that’s wrong with the world.

I’ve texted my “besties” to meet for coffee, so I can share my thoughts on all that’s wrong with the world and how I would fix it all, but somehow they are always busy.

It’s here when we are seeing things spiraling down that we need to read further in the Old Testament Reading.

It says, “A blessing is on the man who puts his faith in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”

When we put our faith in the Lord, who is our Creator, who is our Sustainer, who always fulfills His promises to do good, who only acts of of His love for the world that He created, and who is full of mercy and grace, we will see the good that God has for us.

You see, the truth is that the world is spiraling down. Ever since man’s first fall into sin, when he disobeyed God’s good will for him, humans have suffered, and we only ourselves to blame.

When we keep putting our faith in human things that are apart from God, we will always come up short and get in more trouble.

That quote from King David was not to said to any human. No human could take it.

When King David was venting, he said it all to God.

And while walking in that valley of the shadow of death, David knew he was not alone. He knew his Lord was walking with him, so he knew he need not fear because the Lord was protecting him.

We have come here today to church because we know it’s here where we will find what we truly need.

We have come to meet God and hear what He has to say to us.

Today God says to us as He said to Jeremiah centuries ago, “For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, pushing out its roots by the stream; he will have no fear when the heat comes, but his leaf will be green; in a dry year he will have no care, and will go on giving fruit.”

Do you see that picture here in your mind? Isn’t this the picture that we need to see ourselves in?

I have best news for each of us here today. We are in that picture. We are the tree planted in the stream.

Although it is hotter than anything, and the air is dry, but we see a stream that we can get some water.

And, with this water, we can say, “I’m okay, more than okay, I’m blessed, and I can keep moving forward with what God has provided and has always provided for me.”

“And, even more, I am not just getting by, but I’m producing fruit, good things.”

Looking at this way, by seeing how God is always providing for us, we see how God is always working for the good in all of our events, happenings, and situations.

On a human level, things may not look so good, but on a faith level, all is good.

To give you the strongest example, on a human level, Jesus’ death look like all was over. As Jesus hung on the cross, it looked like Jesus had failed to bring victory to the people.

But, God’s plan to end the power of sin and Satan was working. All was good.

Jesus did suffer and die for the punishment for the sins of the world.

Our Lord, Jesus, was cursed, so we would be blessed with the forgiveness of every sin and have the gift of eternal life.

I’m not sure if we can call worship today an urgent session of our support team of our “besties.”

We did vent.

We confessed our sins.

Our Lord gave us the support only he could give by forgiving every one of them.

From our forgiveness, we have the gift of salvation.

Now, all is good. The good that we can only see by faith, and faith we have.

Oh yes, the world is hot and dry, but we are trees planted by a stream doing quite well, even producing fruit.

We are blessed.

We are seeing all is good.

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