Sunday Sermon #2: Tell Me–Are You Still Down?

You see, it is super easy to have faith when God does a fast thing. You know, you pray and it seems like “Bam! Miracles on demand! Blessing on blessing on blessing.” And God does that sometimes for you, like, God just leans over and takes God’s finger and stirs the atmosphere to keep your party going.

But those? Those are like setups. Hors D’oeuvres of faith before the real stuff shows up. Like little buffalo cauliflower bites while you waiting on your porterhouse.

It looks like this:

The doctor says you have cancer. But LUCKY YOU! We caught it in time. Let’s start treatment. At this very moment, you’re praise dancing your way down the aisle at church, flipping benches and speaking in tongues because, “It’s already done! He-bo-bo-sha-ta!”

Two months later, the cancer spreads a little bit. And so now chemo is imminent. You keep praising God for deliverance and complete healing, and yet… a niggle of something starts developing in your mind. You try to shove it down, but those loud tongues and bench flipping shouts have calmed down some, huh? Like, you kinda quiet. Tearfully, hands lifted up, knees buckling under the weight of “what if God doesn’t heal me?”

And then 6 months later, you’re bald. They’re talking about more aggressive treatments because the devil isn’t fleeing despite mad resistance. Your kidneys cannot take the meds anymore–they are shutting down. Food has no taste–except that you taste your vomit when it all comes back up. You are angry and delirious and afraid and…what happened to the praise? Where is God? Where is victory?

People give Job a hard time. His book of the bible is used for so many other reasons than its intended purpose. Nonbelievers say, “THIS IS THE GOD YOU OKAY WITH? Dude lost it all!” And believers skip from the front to the back where Job gets “double for his trouble”. Folks use it to debate the existence of Satan and the nature of good and evil. We ask is God mean and heartless to have made what is essentially a bet that destroyed a man’s life?

Few people sit with the middle, the space beyond Job’s wife telling him to curse God and die; beyond Job telling his friends to get the hell on wit da yick-yack. Few want to talk about how Job stood one day crying asking God why and the next say was all, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him”. Because that part is messy. And it shows what faith really looks like.

We have been conditioned to believe that if we don’t get a “quick easy work” that there is something wrong with us and our faith. Or worse yet: that whatever “it is” isn’t God’s will for us because the getting is hard, unpleasant, or sometimes awful before we make it to the other side. Yet faith has always been and will always be foolish. It will take you to the depths of embarrassment, having you out there so tough that everybody will shun you like a leper.

Faith gets ugly sometimes.

Because God is looking for what we all look for all the time: a ride or die. God wants to see if all the stuff falls away–if it doesn’t rain even while you’re building the boat for 100 years or you’re anointed king while a king still sits on the throne–that you will still love God. That you will still choose the Creator over the creation. That you would seek the kingdom over the things. That you would be grateful for the Giver and not the gifts.

How down are you? Will you love not your own life unto death? Will you say, “Though he slay me…”? Will you declare as Jesus did, sweating blood, “Thy will be done”?

Something to think about before you talk about your faith.

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