Troubles, troubles, and more troubles. That’s just the way it goes at times. Doesn’t it? Or should we say that it’s like that all the time.
We live in a world full of troubles-has been, is now, and always will be.
Let’s say you are having some troubles, so you call up your best friend to meet for a cup of coffee to have a good talk.
You tell your friend your troubles, and here are your friend’s responses:
“You sure have troubles. How did you get so messed up?”
“You sure have troubles. But you don’t know what trouble is. Let me dump on you some of my troubles.”
“You sure have troubles. All the psychologists in the world won’t be able to help you. You’re beyond help.”
“You sure have troubles. But, I’ve seen how you go about your life. You really deserve all you’ve got.”
“You sure have troubles. It’s been nice listening to you. Can we go bowling or shopping now? Anything has to be better than hearing you go on and on about your troubles?”
If you have a friend with those responses, my suggestion for you is to find a new friend.
Can you imagine that you are back in Jesus’ day and are one of his first followers?
You have seen Jesus perform miracles. He has turned water into wine, raised the dead, made the lame walk, the blind see, and cast out demons.
You have seen Jesus teach about the kingdom of God. In the synagogue, you’ve heard rabbis teach about God’s Kingdom in what the prophets of old told, but you’ve not heard them teach with the authority that Jesus is teaching with.
As you continue to be around Jesus, you’re finding that Jesus can teach about the subject of heaven with such boldness because salvation is found in him and in nothing else.
You are feeling a lot of hope in all that Jesus is. Nothing but positive going on here.
And then, one day, Jesus opens up and tells you that nothing but troubles are ahead of you, especially as you continue to follow him.
What do you think? What do you do?
Do you go looking for a better teacher? You know, one that is a lot more positive-maybe even nothing but all good news.
Let’s now stop imagining living back in Jesus’ day.
How about today here in church? In the Gospel reading, you’ve heard Jesus talk about all the troubles that are in the world, especially as we are getting nearer to the Last Day.
What’s you reaction? You and I didn’t walk out. We all stayed. Why is that?
As we look out at the world, we do have to agree that Jesus is right about the troubles in the world.
I’m not saying that in our agreement that we like what is happening in the world, but we do have to admit that troubles are here.
We expect to hear about troubles that are in the world, country, and cities on the evening news. But, we don’t expect the “bad” news to be coming from our good Lord.
What we want to hear from our Lord is for him to talk about peace, comfort, strength, and love, and to be sure, we do hear our Lord talk about these things.
The obvious point here is, and sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out. The hard truth is that if we are looking for peace, it’s because there’s conflict. If we are looking for comfort, it’s because we are sad. If we are looking for strength, it’s because we are feeling weak. If we are looking for love, it’s because we are feeling that we are not loved so much.
As long as we are here on this earth, we won’t be having one thing without the other.
Jesus was trying to open the eyes of all generations that troubles will always be coming.
As much as we want to try, should try, and do try to eradicate, fix, and, at least, minimize troubles, we can expect that troubles will always be here in our world and in our lives.
To be sure, despite what is happening on our lives, we are always to be kind. But, again, the hard truth is that our kindness may or may not have desired results.
Which means-we are always to be kind just to be kind.
The results are in much bigger hands than ours for the purposes and outcomes of our times are often a mystery to us.
In Jesus’ day, people wanted someone to come and eradicate, fix, and, at least, minimize their troubles. For a time, they were hoping that Jesus was the one to do that.
But, they found out that Jesus was not going to be the one to take all of their troubles away.
They were so upset that their hopes were dashed by Jesus not living up to their expecatiotns that they showed up one day to yell, “Crucify him, Crucify him.”
Little did they know that Jesus’ crucifixion did fix their biggest troubles.
Jesus’ death on the cross put an end to every person’s trouble with sin, Satan, and death.
When Jesus said his last words, “It is finished,” he ended the harm that sin, Satan, and death can have on us.
Sin, Satan, and death want to cause great harm to us, with the greatest harm of separating us from God.
You see, anything that even has a touch of “bad” can stand before us and a pure and holy God.
If we are separated from God, we are actually His enemies in our separation.
But, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are now right with God. Jesus took the punishment for our sins, so we are now pure and holy. In our perfect righteuosness in Christ, we have all of God’s love and care in Christ.
We have forgiveness of every sin, Satan is defeated, and although we will die a physical death, we will live forever in heaven.
For a Gospel reading today, we don’t see any Gospel at first glance. We do hear a lot of warning about troubles.
As these troubles seem overwhelming, I do appreciate the warning of troubles, for I like to see what is coming, but I also need to hear of some help in our troubles.
We don’t seem to be getting too much help here in the reading. It seems to be all gloom and doom.
But, let’s consider that it’s Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who is telling us about these troubles, for we also know that he has told us about himself as our Lord and Savior.
Jesus has established that he is the Christ who has come to save the world from all that can harm us.
To help us understand how we are to go about living in a troubled world and our troubled lives, it would help to go back to the catechism for a minute.
As Lutherans, we go deep into distinguishing between the Law and Gospel. They both have their purposes.
Here’s the review: The Law shows us our sins. In the light of the Law, we have seen how we have gone against God’s good will for us.
To make sure we know that God’s will is good for us, and it’s the only thing that is good for us. All other options are off the table.
So, it comes down to admitting that world has its troubles and even to say our lives has its troubles because we are not doing God’s good will for us in our lives.
We, here today, to our credit but not to our credit, if that makes sense because we are talking about the mysteries of how the Holy Spirit works, we have realized that we have gone against God’s will, and we know that this going against God’s will has caused troubles in our lives.
So, we come here to confess our sins, and we hear the Gospel that forgives every one of the sins.
We know our nation has its troubles, and we can hope that this Thanksgiving that we as a nation will repent of our sins before we thank God for the many blessings that He gives us.
Imagine a World Day of Repentance. To go really big, imagine that the world repented of its sins every day.
Talking about reimaging things as we hear so often these days, what would happen if every person confessed their sins and heard how their sins were forgiven in the Gospel?
The sad truth is that not everyone will repent, and even ourselves, we will keep on sinning as long as we are in the these bodies walking on the earth.
But, if you notice at the very end of the Gospel reading, there is Gospel.
Jesus says that those who persevere through the troubles will see salvation.
Well, this is another Lutheran thing. This sounds at first that, by persevering, we are doing a work. We need to buckle down and shape up to get through these times. Right?
Well, no. That’s not it.
Getting back to eradicating, fixing, and, at least, minimizing the troubles, we think we can do something about them.
But, Jesus says these things must happen for they are part of God’s plan for the times before the End of Time.
As it is best for us to accept these days with all of their troubles, we know we will get through them as we get through all things.
We get through the simple, the easy, the mundane, our losses, the hard, and the all the troubles by the same thing. Because there is only one way to live life in all that it dishes out to us-and that is by faith.
Jesus is the one who is talking here and telling all the people the good news about God and His love for the world.
We believe what Jesus is saying because Jesus is the good news and is God’s love that has come here to earth to do all things for us.
Jesus has come to save us from all that can harm us, give us our salvation, and get us through these troubled times.
So, you think you have troubles.
The answer is that you sure do.
Maybe you might want a new pastor. A pastor that will tell you that if you are good enough in your lives that God will bless you and make your troubles disappear.
That’s not going to happen.
If I told you that, I would be falsely leading you.
This is the truth of what is happing.
After Jesus went up to heaven, the disciples went to work spreading the Gospel to the world.
The world to whom they went into was mostly hostile to their message.
But they were not broken, but, instead, they counted all their troubles as a reason for having joy.
They figured that they must have been doing the right work because they were suffering the same kind of troubles that Jesus suffered when he was doing God’s work.
So, we think that we have troubles, and we do. But, the troubles can be our joy as we know that they mean that Jesus is coming soon.
God’s plan is working, and we go through it all knowing Jesus is there with us with everything we need to get through these troubled times all the way to heaven.