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Despair, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
October 28, 2022 9:00 am

Despair, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 28, 2022 9:00 am

It’s a tragic fact that many marriages fall apart after a sudden loss. So how do we keep it together when our life seems to be falling apart?

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Clearview Today
Abidan Shah
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Kerwin Baptist
Kerwin Baptist Church

Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. Think for a minute of the blessing of God as if it were a pie, okay? Think of it as a pie and you've got different pieces. And this piece right here represents like a blessed marriage. And this piece represents a blessed family.

Kids, you grew up to love Jesus. And this piece over here represents a great ministry. This represents a great job and financial blessing. Jeremiah says, I don't have any of those pieces, but I got the best piece because it's God Himself. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian JD Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Bittovich. Have you ever noticed this tragic reality that many marriages fall apart after a dramatic and sudden loss? Like the collapse of a business, the death of a child, or an injury that leaves one permanently disabled. So how do we hold things together when our lives seem to be falling apart like this? And more importantly, how do we hold on to our faith through all of that pain? Today, pastor JD answers those questions as he concludes our teaching series on family and relationships titled Home Records. He called this message Despair.

And if you missed any of the previous messages, you can hear them at Now, let's rejoin pastor JD in the book of Lamentations. Despair.

By despair, I mean this overwhelming, suffocating sense that life is just not going to get any better. You see, the body can aggravate what is going on in the soul. Here's the thing. While conditions in the body do aggravate spiritual conditions, they usually don't create them.

That's the thing to remember. Hope comes from somewhere different. So I'm not answering the question about medication. What I am showing you is that there is hope, and that hope is something a little bit different. So if you have your Bible, I want you to open them to Lamentations. Jeremiah is trying to show you that he is giving you the experience of suffering from A to Z.

That's what most scholars think he's doing. Here is the experience of suffering from A to Z. He said, well, why is Jeremiah suffering? Lamentations chapter 3, verse 1. I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath. He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light. Verse 3, surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. Who's he talking about, by the way? Who's he talking about?

He's talking about God. God, he has made my flesh and my skin waste away. He has broken my bones. He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation. He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape.

He has made my chains heavy. Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. A lot of you have gone through dark chapters, and you have thought these very things, and you have shut yourself up and said, no, I cannot say this. I cannot feel this. Real Christians don't feel like this. Jeremiah was a real Christian.

You guys encouraged yet? You're blessed? You know, before I go on, I need you to learn something very, very important. And that is that God chose to include this in the Bible. He didn't have to. He could have edited this out. That he didn't have to choose to include this book at all.

He could have been like, what? The prophet yelled at me, doubting me, accusing me of things? No, we're not putting that in the Bible. Why don't you give us another one of Zephaniah's books? His books are all cheery about me dancing over people with, you know, singing.

You know, people like that. Well, how about Solomon? His wisdom is really hot right now. We can't keep his sex manual. Song of Solomon, we can't even keep that on the shelves. That'll drive Bible sales up.

Let's put another one of those in there. No, God put this book in there for you who suffer because God knows how you feel and God needs you to know that he knows how you feel. And it is okay for you to express that.

In fact, I would tell you that you need to express it. I feel like we're entirely too quick sometimes with our answers and our think positively Christian jargon. Because sometimes what you need is not theological reasoning. Sometimes what you need is a God who walks through this with you. Guys, here's what I believe. I believe this with all my heart. God can handle your doubts. He can.

He can answer your questions. In fact, I would tell you that in asking the question and expressing the doubt, you're actually giving real faith a chance to grow. It's like I've often told you, doubt is a foot that is poised to go forward or backward. You might pick that foot up and you might go backwards into unbelief.

That is certainly possible, but you're never going to walk forward until you pick up your foot. Some of you, your faith is shallow because you've never really struggled through these things. You've got a domesticated God who gives you purpose and makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but you don't crave him. You don't stand in amazed at him.

You don't passionately follow him. Deep struggles like this one are the way that God often changes that. To what the prophet is saying, he's like, had I not been struck by the rod of your wrath, I would have never learned to follow you.

Now write this down. Real faith grows out of honestly expressed doubt. Real faith grows out of honestly expressed doubt until you have experienced deep pain and deep questions. You'll never know how much deeper God is than pain, how much more glorious he is than the questions. Deep experience, deep pain, deep doubt is how God deepens your understanding and makes you stand amazed and takes you from a casual Christian to someone who craves him.

The way that David said in Psalm 42 is that, dear paths for the water so my soul longs for you. What I'm trying to tell you is this simply this. Listen, some of you need to express your lamentation. You need to write it out. I mean, write that, put that down. Write out my lamentation.

That's your homework assignment. You need to write it out. I mean, literally write it out and not some sanitized, positive, encouraging Christian radio version of it, but a raw version like Jeremiah's. I mean, seriously, this is a Christian song. Imagine hearing this on Christian radio. Positive encouraging, God is like a bear who mauls me.

Write it out. Then you go somewhere and read it back to God, scream it back to him. Grieve over a shattered dream, a messed up marriage, a lost child.

Allow yourself to feel the emotions and the sadness and then put them into words and remember that God is listening to you. You want a good example of this? C.S.

Lewis observed. That is not the neat articulation of a Christian doctor by a Christian theologian. That is a Christian theologian raging against God. Now, what if I tell you to close your Bible?

Let's go home. Worst sermon ever. Verse 21. But this I call to mind. This is one of the most profound transitions in all of the Bible. I want you to see Jeremiah in prison, thinking about a parent that he watched killed in front of him.

A child, maybe, that he watched murdered. This I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never sees us. His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul.

Therefore, I will hope in him. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good for one to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. There are two partially correct answers that Christians seem to gravitate toward in the midst of suffering. The first is they're a kind of person, a kind of Christian who in the midst of suffering tend to gravitate toward this idea where they'll make a statement like, well, God is enough.

If you're more of the doctrinal type, more of the reform type, seminary type, this is you. Well, you know, God's enough. God never promised us anything in this world would be easy.

Yep, nope. In fact, he said in this world, you will have tribulation. That's one group of you. There's others of you who you gravitate more toward answers like, well, hang on, because you might not be seeing it now, but God is working. And God will turn your tragedy into triumph. It's like Joseph. Joseph couldn't see it, but when he was in that prison, God was prepared him for the palace. That's what you gravitate more the charismatic types.

They tend to gravitate toward that side. Both those answers are partially true, but both of them are incomplete. This text addresses them both. Verse 24. The Lord is my portion.

Therefore, I will hope in him. Think for a minute of the blessing of God as if it were a pie, okay? Think of it as a pie, and you've got different pieces. And this piece right here represents like a blessed marriage. And this piece represents a blessed family. Kids, you grew up to love Jesus. And this piece over here represents a great ministry.

This represents a great job and financial blessing. Jeremiah says, I don't have any of those pieces, but I got the best piece because it's God himself. God is the best piece of his own pie. It means when nothing is going right, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. In the Lord, I will take joy in what? In the blessings God has given me? In the promise of future blessings? No, I will take joy now in the God of my salvation now, because God the Lord is my strength. Now, there is nothing wrong with praying for the blessing of friendship or romantic love or marriage.

But you know what? God is better than that blessing. Earthly marriage is just a shadow of the heavenly love that we craved. The arms that we longed for in marriage were his arms.

The tenderness and affection that we longed for was found in the God who gave himself for us at the cross. I want to be married, but if I'm not, or if I'm not in a good marriage, then God is my portion. And God is better than marriage. There's nothing wrong with praying for the blessing of money.

But you know what? Jesus is better than money. He provides more meaning and more security than all the money in the world.

And God never crashes or dips below 10,000 or loses his triple-A rating. And God promised to provide for all your deeds. In the pie of God's blessing, God is the best piece. God himself is the best of all his blessings. So God himself, the presence and the approval of God is my portion of the pie of God's blessing. We'll return to our teaching on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer in just a moment. But I wanted to take a moment to tell you about our featured resource, meant to help you reach out to that person who's been on your mind lately. As the holidays near, we want to set you up for success, both with shareable teaching here on the program, as well as a resource to help you reach out to others. We've created a set of greeting cards with inspirational verses on the front and blank space inside for you to use maybe this year around the holidays or really any time throughout the year to encourage others with a handwritten note. We all know the power of receiving a personal message in the mail. So why not extend that gift to someone that you love? This set of 20 cards comes with your generous gift to the ministry.

So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at Now, let's get back to the conclusion of today's teaching on Summit Life. Here's Pastor J.D.

Greer. Verse 25. But the Lord is also good to those who wait for Him. And it is good for one to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Here's what a lot of people who understand the first point don't seem to get. And that is God's salvation is something He does here on the earth. God is working good for His people on the earth. I love this phrase from the Psalms that a lot of people like me, a lot of my friends, a lot of those of us in the more doctrinal reform camp, they don't, I feel like some of them have probably never really read this verse and really like rasped it. Psalm 27.13.

Look at this. I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord where? In the land of the living. So don't tell me about how awesome heaven's going to be. Don't just tell me about how awesome heaven's going to be. I want to see God's kindness now. And God loves to give it. He overflows with love for His children.

So Jeremiah said His mercies are new every morning. Job is a great example of both of these points, by the way. Job, remember Job? Job has got lost everything, loses his fortune, loses his friends, wife tells him to curse God and die.

I mean, it just goes about as bad for Job as it could get. Job goes through one of the most wretched experiences. If you've ever read all the way through the book of Job, most people don't make it. They get about chapter 20 and then they just, hmm, they crash.

If you ever get all the way through it, which I would encourage you to, what you'll find at the end is two things happen to Job. Number one, he starts to know God in an entirely different way. For the first time in his life, he starts to worship. Not because he has all the answers, but because he experiences a God that is deeper than the pain. He knows God. He actually begins to worship.

He'd been a Christian before, but he never really worshiped. Second thing you'll find is that God restored. You ever see this at the end? It's like the last verse. It says God restored to him everything even more than he had at the very beginning. Both of these things, God's kindness at work in what is going on in your life and God also preparing you to know him because his mercies are new every morning. You say, well, if I could just see what God is doing during this dark hour, if I could just see that, I could make it. Listen, I'm not gonna go long on this because this is one of the things that Trevor touched on last week, but let me just, let me give you three things that we know God is doing in the darkness.

For you, okay? Three things we know because God tells us. They all start with P because you just can't get the Southern Baptist out of me.

I've tried, but it just won't leave. Hey, here we go. They all start with P. Number one, he is pursuing his agenda. God is pursuing his agenda in your dark hour. One of the things that scripture tells us very clearly is that God uses pain to bring salvation into the world. That's what he did with Jesus. Jesus did not bring salvation to us by being a political ruler. Jesus brought salvation by going to a cross. He said, likewise, his followers would bring salvation the same way. What is pretty interesting is that we can see something about Jeremiah's life he couldn't see, and that is that God was gonna use this exile to actually bring about something much better than the nation of Israel itself, and that is the Messiah.

God would use the exile to bring about the birth of the Messiah. Paul, when Paul began to follow Jesus, started to say the reason that we're going through all this is because death works in us, but life works in you. God chooses to bring his salvation to you, your family, and to your world through the cross, just like he did with Jesus.

Just like he did with Jesus. And so you hang on in the midst of that because there's some things that can only be done in the midst of pain that can't be done in the midst of prosperity. That's not a popular message, but that is exactly what the New Testament says. Death in you works life in other people. Secondly, he is purifying your heart.

He's pursuing his agenda number two. He's purifying your heart. You see, what God is doing is he is tearing down your own kingdom so that you will be able to understand whether or not you're living for yours or his. God ever do that to you? He does that to me. He'll shatter some dream just so he can expose to you that this was never really about him, it was about you.

That ever happened? Because I was praying a prayer that sounded like, thy kingdom come, but what it really meant was my kingdom come. And what God did is he frustrated my prayer and he shattered my dream so that I would be forced to see who I was actually living for because I can see some things by disappointed dreams that I can't see when they're all coming true.

He's just trying to show you what you really care about. And the first commandment is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. I say many of us in here have no real concept of what that is. I'm not saying you're a bad person. I'm not saying you're not a good Christian. You come to church, you're tied, you do all the stuff you're supposed to do, but you don't crave God. But you're not like David, Psalm 42.1, as the deer pants for the water so my soul longs for you. What we have done to that verse, we put it on like a coffee cup with a deer jumping over a brook and it makes us feel calm. That's not what is being expressed in that verse.

Longing for God. What God does is he sometimes shakes up what you care about so you can see whether or not you love and crave God. God is not supposed to be an afterthought.

He's not supposed to be somebody that you serve occasionally on Sunday. I'm not talking to hypocrites here. I'm talking to casual Christians who don't think about God all the time, who God is not the dominating reality of your life and you crave him like a man who's been in the desert and hasn't drunk water for 30 days. That's what David is expressing. God is purifying your heart. Thirdly, he is preparing you for ministry. I don't mean ministry like I do.

I mean ministry in the lives of others. That's what Paul says in 2 Corinthians. He says, you know what? God has frustrated our ministry at every possible turn. And he did that for a few reasons. He said the first reason that God did that to us is one, he wanted us to know him better. He wanted us to know Christ and his sufferings better. He said the other reason God tore apart our ministry is he wanted you to know, he wanted you to know that it wasn't about the power and eloquence of Paul.

It was about the power of God. And so God made me look like a fool sometimes so that he would increase through my suffering. He said, but the third reason that God put these things and tore down our ministry is because he wanted me to be able to understand your pain. Because if I've never been through pain, it's hard for me to understand yours. And God sometimes will wound you so that you can understand and speak to people who have been wounded.

The way A.W. Tozer says this is, God, before God can use a man greatly, he must first wound him deeply. Before God can use you greatly, he must first wound you deeply. God uses pain and Jeremiah's in deep pain and he can't see what God is doing, but he chooses to believe that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, that his mercies have never come to an end. Listen, despair is not caused by pain and suffering. Despair is caused by hopelessness. Hope is not the lessening of pain. Hope is the recognition of purpose in pain, the recognition of God's loving sovereignty and good intentions in pain. Hope does not come from God taking you out of pain. Hope comes from God taking the despair out of pain. All says our pain is real. Our pain is deep. But because we know that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and because his mercies have never come to an end and God is working salvation, even our pain now is a blessed pain. Because what we are experiencing now is temporary, but what God is working is eternal. Is eternal. Now, some of you say, but I can't see it.

I can't see how God is using my pain for good. You're talking now, but I can't see it. Yes, you can. You can't control what you remember, but you can choose what you call to mind. You cannot control what you remember. You cannot control what you feel all the time.

And you ought to be honest about that. That's what I've tried to tell you, but you can choose what you call to mind and you choose to call to mind the steadfast love of the Lord. One of my favorite British pastors, a guy named D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, used to make this statement. He said, in a sense, what the scriptures do is they teach us how to talk to ourselves. I've got voices of doubt with them, but I overcome them with the louder words of the gospel. I know the outlook looks bleak and it makes me think that I'm in despair, but I trump that with the louder voice of the gospel and this I call to mind.

All to mind. So how I live does not determine my closeness to God. What Jesus did determines my closeness to God, closeness to God. And so I live right now. I live right now in Christ. God's mercies are new for me every morning because God could not love Christ any more than he does right now, and I am in Christ. See, God, his mercies are mine. And so I face that with assurance and I call it to mind.

Let me give you one final thing really quickly. And I say this, listen, with a broken heart. For those of you who are outside of Christ, there really is nothing but despair. Despair is not inaccurate for you. It's actually very accurate because everything that you're experiencing now, you don't have a hope that goes beyond the grave.

If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation. Despair is an illusion. And you may feel it, but it's not real. If you are outside of Christ, then hope is an illusion. And all you have is despair. And then you die and hell awaits. So my prayer is that for you who are believers, your despair would drive you to your hope in Christ. And for you who are not believers, your despair would wake you up to cause you to flee to Christ because it doesn't have to be this way. Jesus Christ conquered death for you.

And He offers it to you as a gift if you'll receive it. It is in our families where sin becomes the clearest and where we have the capacity to do the most damage. But thankfully, the Bible always offers us hope. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer and the final message in our powerful series on relationships titled Home Records. If you missed any of the previous messages, or if you'd like to share this series with someone you love, you can find everything online at Your financial gifts have helped us to reach so many new people with solid Bible-based teaching. And this month, we are offering you to take your support to the next level by becoming a monthly gospel partner. Every penny given goes to producing and distributing these messages both in traditional media as well as through our website.

In fact, we even give at least 10% of what is brought in each year to planting new churches. So we'd love to have you join us and support where God is at work through this ministry. For your one-time gift of $35 this month, or when you join the gospel partner family, we'll say thank you by sending you the box of 20 inspirational greeting cards we mentioned earlier in the program.

Next month is Thanksgiving and the perfect time to encourage someone, let them know that you're thankful for them, or mend a broken relationship with a handwritten note. Today is the final day to reserve your box set of cards. So call us right now. Our number is 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or you can always give online at In addition to pastoring the Summit Church and teaching on this daily program, Pastor JD is also a best-selling author. His books include Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart and Gaining by Losing as well as Gospel and his most recent book, Just Ask.

Dig deeper into these truths that we share every day on this program and share them with others. You can also purchase a copy of these books as well as other biblical resources from Summit Life when you visit us online at Before we close, let me remind you that if you aren't yet signed up for our email list, you'll want to do that today. It is the best way to stay up to date with Pastor JD's latest blog posts, and we'll also make sure that you never miss a new resource or series. It's quick and easy to sign up at I'm Molly Vitovich, and be sure to tune in again next week when we're kicking off a new teaching series about the life and times of King David titled Search for a King. See you next time right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 15:47:27 / 2022-11-09 15:53:57 / 7

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