S-1034 2/24/08 3SIL/3A. Hymns: (O) #354; (S) #149 L.S. 356; 315; 355; 489; (C) #54
Texts: Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8, John 4:5-26
Theme: “An Arduous Journey” (Gen. 12:7, 8)
Armour, SD. SOLI DEO GLORIA
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for our meditation is from the O.T. “All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink” (Ex. 17:1)
Saints in Christ, we are all traveling on a journey on the road of life. From the day we are born till we die we are journeying. Some of our journeys are short and others are long. Some journeys are sweet and others are bitter. Some journeys are physical, emotional and still other is spiritual. Some of our journeys are smooth and others are arduous.
Each of you knows what I am speaking about. Some of you have been on these journeys, and some are traveling on them even today. Some of these journeys causes you a lot of pain, and others give you a lot of joy.
For the last 6 months my journey has been a difficult one. On September 14th, I had gotten word that my youngest sister was diagnosed with cancer. On November 2nd she went to be with the Lord. That was a heavy journey. A month ago, I got another word that 4 family members were injured in a terrible car accident. Though God spared their lives one of the members (my sister has had a rough time with her legs). A week later my other sister was admitted to the hospital with inflammation in her shoulders. When she got out, my older brother was admitted for five day to the hospital. And if that is not enough two weeks ago we found out that Jean’s brother (Phil) has been diagnosed with cancer.
All of these events in my life have been indeed a heaven burden to bear. It is an arduous journey on the road of life. Many bitter tears have wet my cheeks. Many prayers have been lifted up. Many hours of concern have occupied my heart, head and home. Through all of these pains, I have been crying out to God for His help and support.
In the readings before us today, we meet others who are traveling on a road, not just any road but a road to the Promised Land. The Israelites had been delivered by the mighty hands of God. He has overthrown Pharaoh and his armies. He had provided them protection in the day and night. He gave them enough food to eat the manna and quail. And now they reached a point that they are beside themselves. They have been traveling for days on end. The wind was blowing on their face, the sun’s blistering heat baking them; and anguish and fatigue took its toll.
And now at Rephidim they fall down, they complain and grumble against Moses and against God. At Rephidim they cry out against God instead of calling upon Him to help them as He has done in the past. Instead of seeking His counsel, they rely on the human figure that stood before them.
They forgot that they are God’s very special people. They forgot the goodness and grace of God in all that He had done. They lost focus that the One who delivered them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt will bring them to the Promised Land.
Before you say how can they forget so soon? How can they treat God in that way and disregard all of the blessings He has given them? Ask yourself these questions: “How often have you asked God on your arduous journey of life, ‘why God?’ ‘Where are you God when I need you most?’ Father in heaven, ‘how come You don’t respond to my prayers?’ Lord, why are You are so far away from me in my hour of need? My road is hot, my burden is heavy, and my heart is broken
At times like these we need to lift our eyes from ourselves and look to Him who supplies all of our needs. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Being confident of this very thing that He who has began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” Again, “My God will meet all of YOUR NEEDS in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6; 4:19). And again, “Our [God], will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8).
Search, seek and study Scripture and you will find if you don’t know already God’s hand is not short toward those He love. Spend time with Him and you will see how provide you and me with all that we need—the greatest of which is our salvation, forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
Don’t for a moment think that you are the only one who has an arduous journey. All of us do and all of us will. At different times it may be more severe than at others, but none-the-less we feel the pain and anguish as we go through these journeys.
Consider the example of St. Paul, whom Jesus told that He also must suffer greatly on account of Him (Acts 9:16), so that when Paul encountered beatings, rejection, and imprisonment while on his journeys, Paul thought nothing of it but that he was privileged to be blessed by the Lord.
But if ever there was One who took a journey that was indeed an arduous one it is Jesus. Matthew put it this: “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt. 16:21).
The difference between the Savior and us is very clear. We never wish to go through an arduous journey. No one wants to go through pain, suffering, hardships and difficulties in life. If we are sincerely honest, we would rather that our lives are smooth sailing without any complication.
C. S. Lewis wrote this bit of wisdom: “Pain is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads”. We may not want pain, but pain draws us to a closer walk with the Lord and Savior.
However, Jesus chooses to go to Jerusalem. He chooses to suffer. He chooses to be persecuted, crucified and be put to death for YOU. This was His choice for YOU. This choice was made because of His love for you, because He couldn’t imagine not having you with Him in heaven. C.S. Lewis has described Jesus’ life well. Jesus submitted to the will of the Father, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, not my will, but Thine be done.” Where the Israelites and US failed God’s testing, grumbled against Him, and doubted His presence, Jesus did not put the Lord God to the test, but praised His Name in the hour of testing, and put His trust in His ever-present Divine Father.
Jesus had an arduous journey. It started when He left the beauty of Him and choose to become flesh and blood and be born like us. His journey took Him to Bethlehem, to Egypt and then to Nazareth. Then it led Him to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem that journey got more severe as He gathered His 12 apostles on Thursday night in the Upper Room. He walked to Gethsemane and asked God to take that pain, anguish and hardships away from Him. He was further dragged to Caiaphas, from the High Priests’ house He was taken to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back to Pilate. The journey didn’t end there, but the command was given take Him and beat Him and crucify Him. So He carried the cross after his beating. He walked for miles until He reached the mountain upon which He would be crucified and there He died.
His was an arduous journey. A journey that He took for us and in our place for all of the times we have grumbled and complained against God. A journey that He willingly endured for YOU and YOU and YOU, so that satan may not lead us to the journey of the Abyss of hell.
Today, as you and I go through our journeys of life, they may be short or long, they may be sweet or bitter, they may be physical, emotional, or spiritual, no matter what the journey is, be certain of the promise that the Savior Almighty will never leave you or forsake.
And for that we can give thanks to the Father of all grace who gave us His Son, Jesus to take our arduous journey for us. Amen.
Now the peace….