Good morning, welcome to Christ’s Community Church. Today we’re wrapping up the series called, The Mask, and we’re talking this morning about our hope in God. You know, the truth is that we live in a sin-filled and often painful world, which time and time again leaves many of us facing difficult circumstances, yet each one of us reacts in different ways to the experiences that we’ve so harshly encountered. And basically I believe there are two courts, two teams, or two ways to respond and if you’re like me you may tend to bottle it up, stuff it deep inside, just hiding the hurts and the feelings, smiling and carrying on as if nothing had ever happened. Others of you, and this might be the minority, but whenever you find yourself in a situation and maybe even where you should to keep your mouth shut you don’t. For you, it is as if you wear your heart on your sleeve as Shakespeare once said and your feelings are written all over your face. You know, there’s no hiding what is going on behind the scenes.
Comedian Ron White once told the story of being arrested in New York City. He had been drinking, misbehaving, and certainly deserved to be arrested but continued to be loud-mouthed and confrontational with the arresting officer. Ron said, “At this point, I had the right to remain silent, but I didn’t have the ability.” And maybe you’ve been in a situation where you knew you needed to keep your mouth shut but you just couldn’t, everything you said made matters worse, and the hole that you were digging for yourself just kept getting deeper and deeper? I think for most of us there have been those times where we can certainly relate, but the bottom line is that for the majority of our lives we live behind a mask, a cloak of secrecy. And so what I’d like you to do this morning is to just take a moment and look at the people around you. We look pretty good don’t we? But what you’re probably seeing is a lot of people like me who are very skilled at wearing masks. Not because we’ve done something wrong, not because we’re bad people, but because we’re hurting and culture has trained us to hide our wounds.
As you looked around we looked pretty normal, but the reality is that we’re dealing with a lot of stuff. Maybe a friend or family member in the hospital and things aren’t looking very good, a loved one struggling with addiction, someone who’s just sick and tired of their job, or whatever it is for you. But we all walked in here this morning, we smiled, and looked each other in the eye, yet we’re wearing masks, hiding the hurt, because deep inside we’re devastated. And today as we conclude this series we’re going to drop the mask once and for all, because no matter what your hurt is, no matter where it came from, no matter whether it was yesterday, today, or tomorrow, there is one thing that all of our hurts have in common, and that is that there is hope beyond the hurt. That’s what the Scriptures tell us. Look with me at Psalms chapter 62, and read with me beginning at verse 5 as David cries out to God.
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalms 62:5-8).
It was back in the 60s when the Beatles decided that material success wasn’t enough to fill the void in their lives so they traveled to India on this magical mystery tour of sorts, a spiritual pilgrimage to find inner peace, and what they were taught was transcendental meditation, merely a misdirected biblical doctrine through which they were to seek a state of nothingness. A condition of emptying themselves of evil and negativity so that they would be at peace with themselves and at peace with the world. But our Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:43-45, "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."
And so what the Beatles missed was that peace and meditation was Jesus’ idea and it is found in him. He said, “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So that elusive peace that they were looking for is found in Jesus. Meditation itself is a biblical concept found first in Genesis chapter 24, verse 63, where we find Isaac meditating as God answers his prayer and that word meditate appears about 15 times in the Bible. David prays in Psalms chapter 19, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalms 19:14). And so in the Bible, we’re encouraged, even commanded to meditate as an important part of our daily prayer lives. However Christian meditation is not sitting in the lotus position humming to yourself, biblical meditation is simply a deeper form of prayer and could be defined as listening to God.
In Psalms 62 David gives us of clear example of what meditation is and over the last four weeks we’ve been getting honest about the struggles, the hurts, the sins, and the issues in our lives. But what I really believe is that if we’re going to stop playing the charade, stop hiding behind the mask, and hiding the pain in our lives, we’re going to have to get honest. So today we’re going to let the mask down, expose where we’re hurting, and allow God to heal us. David said in verse five, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him” (Psalms 62:5). And so we begin prayerfully by separating ourselves from the world and attaching ourselves to God. The apostle Paul said it this way, "Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). So we move everything else out of the way and give our undivided attention to God because number one, we find hope, we find healing and comfort in God.
As we rest in God, find hope in God, we submit ourselves to God’s timing, we’re seeking the face of God and not the hand of God. And so in this sense meditation is different from prayer, because we’re not bringing our requests to God, or seeking his help in a specific matter, but this is a deeper kind of communion with God that is simply basking in his presence. David says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone…” In other words David is yielded to him, submitted to his timetable, not coming to him for a blessing, but just to rest in his presence.
Those of you who are parents know what it is to comfort your children when they’re hurting. Now when my children come to me after they’ve been hurt, they don’t initially come asking for divine healing. When they come holding their breath and screaming they don’t ask for guidance, they don’t ask me to teach them how not to get hurt again. You know, I’ll be the first to tell them that accidents are usually not an accident. But what they do is they come and they need one thing and one thing only. They want a shoulder to cry on, arms to hold them, and that’s it. They want to be comforted and hear, “Daddy’s here, I’ve got you, it’s okay, you’re going to be just fine.”
This morning, there are some of you who’ve been bumped and bruised, some who are wounded and bleeding, it hurts but you’ve been hiding it so long that you’ve become accustomed to the pain. You’re smiling on the outside and hurting on the inside. I’m praying that you would have the courage to run into the arms of your Heavenly Father and find comfort in him. So how do we do that? For those of you who’ve been hurting for months and years and decades, yet time hasn’t healed the wound, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think for a moment, to acknowledge what it is, and to put a name on it. For some of you it was subtle, maybe an irritation or betrayal, and for others of you there’s no mistaking what it is because it’s affected your life in every way. And so what I want you to do is to write it down. Put a name on it. What is the cause of your pain? Write it down, so you acknowledge what it is, because I believe that God wants to heal you. And admitting it and acknowledging it is the first step in seeking healing from him for our lives. And so how does God heal us from these wounds that we’ve been hiding? The second thing we need to know is that God heals us through his people.
What did we do as kids when we get hurt? When we got hurt we would instinctively make a beeline to the person that we trust the most. Immediately we’d head for that place where we can be vulnerable, where we can be comforted, and where our hearts can be healed. But as we grow up something changes, and the hurts come, the betrayals happen, and then instead of running to the people who love us the most we run from them. And so instead of finding comfort, we isolate ourselves, putting up the mask, and putting on the charade. But today God wants to heal us through his people and the greatest blessings in your life right now are sitting to your left and to your right. God wants to do what the Bible tells us to do in Romans chapter 12, verse 15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
I can testify to you that in bearing one another's burdens you can find healing, because this message is very personal. I’m living this right now. Just over a month ago was my parents wedding anniversary, but there were no phone calls, no celebration for 53 years of marriage, because neither of them were here to celebrate. In three weeks it will be three years that my dad’s been gone and just this past April was seven years since my mother’s been gone. And though I’ve covered it up very well, I’m wounded, it hurts, and I miss them. And if you’ve experienced the loss of both of your parents, you know that there’s this sense of being alone in the crowd, and I say that to let you know that I’m walking this road and that there aren’t any easy answers, but in this hurt, in this wound, I have had the blessing of seeing this biblical truth played out in my life.
You see, each time one of my parents passed on to be with the Lord, I had friends calling me to say, “I just want you to know that I’m praying for you.” Friends coming to the funeral just to be a support, some I hadn’t seen in quite some time, some that knew exactly what I was walking through and others that didn’t, but they mourned with me as I mourned. You see, when you’re going through that time of pain, you don’t need answers, because there are none. We just need to mourn with each other and in that way we can experience healing.
Listen to this word from the apostle Paul. I love this in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, you know we talk about how God uses all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Here’s what Paul wrote in chapter 1, verse three, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). You see, whatever it is that you’re facing, God will not waste your hurt. If you’ll let him comfort you and then let him use you to comfort others with the same comfort he’s given you, he won’t waste a single hurt. God heals us through his people. And then finally, number three, God heals us through his presence.
You see, we’ve become a people who are gifted at hiding our hurts, developing coping mechanisms to deal with our pain, and I want you to know with every bit of sensitivity and respect for what you’ve been dealing with, that the presence of Jesus is infinitely better than whatever you might pour into that glass, any prescription you’re hooked on, far better than whatever you might look at on the Internet, that bag of Oreos that you’ve hidden, or whatever your coping mechanism is, the presence of Jesus is far better.
We find the apostle Peter recorded in Acts chapter 3, where he says in verse 19,
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
You see, God heals us through His presence. Refreshing comes from the Lord.
David was a man who was constantly on the run. King Saul was jealous and threatened by David because the people sang, "Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands." (1 Samuel 18:7). Even as King, David own son threatened him and so he was on the run, constantly in danger, constantly accused by others. The writer of Psalm chapter 71, reminds us that when we are discouraged and worried, to look back and count our blessing, reminding ourselves of the faithfulness of the Lord. He looked to the future and moved from saying in verse five, “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth” (Psalms 71:5). To saying, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (Psalms 71:14).
You see, the future is secure when your hope is in Christ. As we trust in God, the trials of life will work for us and not against us. They will actually lead to glory. And so I always want to have hope in God and therefore I’ll praise him more and more, because Jesus said in John chapter 16, verse 33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). You see, I don’t have an expectation of a perfect life or living in a perfect world. I know that innocent children are being killed, people being abused, and life is tough, but there’s always hope. Psalm chapter 46, verse one says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). Our God is an ever present help in trouble and for that reason I will always have hope knowing that as Isaiah said in chapter 53, verse 5, “He was pierced for our transgression, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus was pierced, he was crushed, and he was punished so that we could have peace. It was by his wounds that we were healed and what better reason is there to have hope than that? And we can always have this hope “because God has said,” Hebrews 13:5 tells us: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Psalm 147 tells us, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). There’s always hope. Do you have room in your heart for more hope today? Psalm chapter 91 tells us, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2). Today you and I can have hope, because there’s always hope, and his name is Jesus Christ. If you still find yourself hiding, finding comfort behind the mask, and hiding the hurt, I pray that you would have the courage to let Jesus bind up your wounds. The Mask separates you from intimacy with God and I believe with all my heart what the apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 8, beginning in verse 38, he says: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). There is hope beyond your hurt. Nothing can separate you from our living hope Jesus Christ. He is our God, our comforter, our refuge, our fortress, our deliverer and the healer of our hurts. God is here today and he’s saying to you who are wounded and hurting, “Daddy’s here, I’ve got this, you’re going to be okay.”
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalms 62:5-8).
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
August 07, 2016
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Preaching Library and PC Study Bible.
Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.