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When It Doesn't Make Sense - By Pastor Thomas Engel

At times, when life gets hard, doesn’t it seem like those people on some of those survival shows have it better than you do?

The contestants on those shows are left in desolate places that have the harshest conditions with little clothing and not much of anything else-maybe they have a pocket knife.

In those extreme conditions, they have to make it for days or even weeks using mostly their instincts and will to survive.

To be sure, even in our hardest times, we have a lot more than those people on survival shows, but difficulties can pile up on us that we are feeling overwhelmed with little help.

We are out of breath and feel like we are hanging by a string or have hit a dead-end.

In the middle of hard times, it seems that life doesn’t make sense.

A characteristic of a hard time is that it gets messy as problems get dumped on us-so messy that it gets chaotic. In the chaos, we get confused and all gets turned upside down.

So, we ask, “Why is this happening to me? What am I to do? As we are running around in circles looking for answers with none to be found, we respond, “It doesn’t make sense.”

We want clarity, so we can have direction-the straighter the better. In knowing where we are going, we have purpose. And then, in this purpose, we find meaning that gives us confidence.

As we approach life, we want to face our days with such a boldness that gives us security.

In surviving, I’ve heard it said that the best thing that you can do is to build a fire. With a fire, we have so much to make us feel better-we have warmth, light, protection from the wild, and can cook food if we have it.

Our number one need as humans is to feel safe. We want a sense of well-being that says I’m okay and I’m going to be okay. Having this well-being gives us peace.

In short, we want life to make sense-the ball is in our court kind of thing-but, doesn’t it seem that just when we think that we’ve got it all figured out, life knocks us for a loop, again.

We don’t like spinning our wheels or wasting our time running around in circles.

If a person came to me and wanted to talk about some hard times that were leaving his or her spinning, I would not be as blunt as I’m going to me with you now.

In a talk with someone, I would ask a lot more questions to get to the depth of the hard time to try to understand it, so I can be empathic.

But here, I will just come out and say that if you are feeling that you are in a place that is not making sense, I would respond by saying, “Good, for you are in the best place to start building back up.”

Although to say, how we build back up is essential to that well-being that we were talking about.

As humans, we are limited. We don’t see everything. Going along in life, we don’t have all the specifics.

Years ago, I knew a person who said in every hard time, “It all happens for a reason.”

I know she was trying to be helpful, but my ears cringed every time she said it because it’s an obvious truth. Everything does happen for a reason, but there is more truth to that saying, and that deeper truth is-we won’t always know the reason.

It’s not that we are just to plod along in life with no purpose and meaning. We can figure out some of life, but if we are waiting for all to make sense, and here I go again with a blunt response, “Good luck with that.”

You’ve heard the saying, “I’ve hit rock bottom.” Usually, it’s said when a person has an addiction of some kind and has gone so far down that he or she has no place to go.

Notice that the bottom is made of rock. It’s a hard fall to hit rock bottom, but the bottom is solid. Now, a person can build back up on good things.

Our minds can think all kinds of thoughts to the positive and negative, and our feelings can go up and down.

With our unsteady thoughts and feelings, it’s no wonder that life doesn’t make sense at times, and our complicated world doesn’t help any in finding something rock solid.

We need something solid to land on and build up from.

This solid foundation can only be faith.

When we are getting to the point that life doesn’t make sense, in turn, we are getting to the point where faith needs to kick in.

Now, we can start living how people of faith are suppose to live-by faith-does that make sense?

Maybe not, but, if you can stay with me here because it will seem like I’m talking in circles here.

For, when we get to living by faith, don’t expect for things to fall in place as far as making sense. By it’s nature, faith doesn’t make sense to the human mind, and especially, it doesn’t make sense to our feelings.

We might ask, “If we can’t get a grasp on what faith is, why should we live by it?”

Well, for this reason, faith is rock solid, and the reason that it’s the only thing for us that is always reliable is that it comes from outside of us.

Faith has nothing human about it, for it comes to us from a divine source, God our Father.

Also, faith has more depth beyond anything human. For instance, recently, humans have landed a spacecraft on Mars. We cheer for human achievement, but God says, “Nice baby step into a universe that I’ve created that goes on forever.”

To be clear, I’m not telling you that faith is going to give you all the answers. But, we don’t live by answers, we live by faith that trusts in God our Father who is the creator of all things, and what is most important to know for our well-being is that our God is a loving and caring God.

You see, we can be literally stripped down to nothing and be more than okay.

It was actually like that for humans at one time. The first humans had nothing-no clothes, no shelter, and not even a pocket knife.

The first humans had perfect well-being in the Garden of Eden. At the beginning, for them, it was a perfect paradise, and they didn’t need to do a thing to have complete joy and peace, and it was complete-not one thing was missing from their lives.

Although those first humans weren’t content with living in paradise, they wanted to know all the answers. They wanted to know all the reasons, and in wanting to know more, they gave up their trust in God.

In giving up their trust in God to take care of them perfectly, they did get to know what they wanted to know-good and evil.

Up until then, they knew only good, and when there is only good, life makes sense. But, when they got to know evil, life got messy.

They found guilt and shame, and needed to wear clothes. They had to work now and gather food and have shelter as God tossed them out of paradise into the hard world.

We have lost paradise, which is obvious by our world and lives that get upset at times.

But, we can still trust God for all of our needs. From a human standpoint, things won’t make sense, and to say from looking at life from faith, we still don’t get detailed explanations, but we can see life come together for us-this coming together of life can be so good that it’s beyond human thought-from whatever is happening in our present moments to eternal life in heaven.

Faith believes in the story of salvation for our souls that gives life to us now and forever.

And to admit, from a human standpoint our salvation doesn’t make sense, and that is why so many people don’t come to faith. People want to reason everything out in order to believe in something. They want data and facts, but the story of salvation has very little of those things.

To admit again, the story of salvation is foolishness to the human mind, but that is why it works.

The story is this:

Although the first humans totally disobeyed God and messed up His perfect plans for them, He still loved them and wanted to provide for them.

Now, in their disobedience, He had to save them from their sin. For sin needs to be punished, but God didn’t want to give the punishment that they deserved for their sin of eternal death.

Instead, God immediately promised a substitute to take that punishment for them and all of their descendants, and every person in the world is a descendant of the first humans.

God sent His Son, Jesus, from out of heaven into the flesh to be that substitute.

When Jesus was going to the cross to die for the sins of the world, people spat on him, mocked him, and soldiers beat him.

On the cross, Jesus asked for His Father in Heaven to forgive them-that doesn’t make sense.

It makes sense to die for a loved one. To give one’s life for someone close to us, but to die for people who don’t care for you at all-it doesn’t make sense, but Jesus did it for all people, even for his enemies.

A lot of what God does doesn’t make sense. God decides to:

  • Save humanity and every animal from a flood by one man and his family building an ark-it doesn’t make sense.

  • Chose a leader who is not a good speaker-it doesn’t make sense.

  • Have a small man fight a giant soldier with a slingshot-it doesn’t make sense.

  • Call a man to be His apostle who once persecuted His people-it doesn’t make sense.

  • To have a virgin give birth-it doesn’t make sense.

  • To have His Son die on cross to save the world and say that this death is a victory-it doesn’t make sense.

God works the way that He desires and all He asks is that we trust Him.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because it was such a bad place. Nineveh needed to be punished or even destroyed, but God had other ideas-the people of Nineveh should be given the chance to turn from their sin.

To Jonah, God’s wanting to give them a chance to repent didn’t make sense.

I don’t think any of us were swallowed by a big fish to be convinced to come here this week, but we have come to repent of our sins.

Think about it, we’ve come here today admitting that we have done wrong in the worst way-it doesn’t make sense.

By faith, we came to repent of our sins and to hear God’s Word of forgiveness in Christ.

I know my sins, and it doesn’t make sense that each one of them should be forgiven, but God has forgiven each one of them that I’ve done throughout my whole life.

It doesn’t make sense that I shouldn’t have any guilt or shame for the wrongs that I’ve done, but I’m free of the burden of my sin to now live in God’s goodness.

For each one of us here today, God loves us so much that He forgives us and leads us by His Spirit to the best life in Christ that is beyond any thought or imagination.

It doesn’t make sense how water and some words can bring us into God’s Family and change us forever, but they do.

It doesn’t make sense how bread and wine are Christ’s body and blood and how Christ is now in us, but they do.

As we look at the world and our lives, we try to make sense of things, but we have to admit that a lot doesn’t make sense.

To be blunt one more time, if you are at the point where life doesn’t make sense, that’s a good thing.

If you’ve been listening, I also have been saying that faith doesn’t make sense to our minds and feelings.

So, if nothing makes sense what do we have?

We have trust in a God who loves us and cares for us. With God, we have more than we could ever dream of-like perfect well-being-a peace that is beyond our understanding that keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

When it doesn’t make sense, put your trust in God-it still might not make all that much sense, but living by faith that trusts in loving and caring God sure does work quite well for us in every way.

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