In my last post we looked at Part 6 of the Temptation Tracker. This particular post will be part 7. You can listen to the sermon link below. In it I explain how to use the Temptation Tracker and how the Lord wants to be with us in whatever emotion we are feeling.
Where did this come from?
I always like to give credit where it is due:
Temptation Tracker (created by Doug Hutchins, used with permission)
To see more on this on my site, click on this link: TempationTrackerPage
One of the things the temptation tracker helps us identify is what emotionally triggers us to bow down to other idols. Every time a person is tempted to bow down to a false idol, they need to account for what they were feeling emotionally during that temptation. It looks like this-
Feeling: how were you feeling when temptation hit (Remember: BLAST)
Today let’s look at S, just feeling sad.
Sadness is an emotion we all experience, but many of us try to explain it away or bury it. If we do this, then we don’t need to feel the pain of how deep something hurt. That is not really an effective strategy for dealing with sadness.
Unresolved sadness often leads to anger or fear. We have already looked at how to deal with feeling afraid or being angry in this temptation tracker series. It is possible that the anger and fear never come on us as strong if we would just deal with our sadness as it hits us. It is also possible to most effectively deal with our fear and anger, then we must experience healing where those deep places of sadness are.
How do we do this?
First of all, we need to believe that we need to deal with it. For some that takes quite a bit of convincing. I was one of those people. However, once I was convinced I can promise you I believe that deep sadness needs to be healed, and I believe only God and God’s people can do that effectively.
Let me give you some passages that let us know what to do with our emotional pain (our hurt, our sadness, our disappointment).
Matthew 5:4 tells us that the one who mourns can experience comfort, and Jesus says the one who mourns is blessed. Have you ever mourned your hurt, your sadness, your disappointments, your pain? In essence, have you grieved these things? When most people think about grief, they associate it with death. That is a a great place to grieve. I did that when we lost our son. I did that when my Grandpa died. I did that when my wife’s Grandpa died.
However, that is not the only time I grieved. When we planted a church in Austin, TX, we had dreams for that church. We had dreams of what God would do in and through that church. We had dreams of our children growing up in that church. That church plant ended up not making it as a church.
When that happened I was angry, and I was afraid for my family financially (and many other things). That was not all that was going on though. I was sad, hurt, disappointed. I was in pain, and I needed God’s comfort. To experience that comfort, I needed to mourn. In order to mourn and grieve, I would have to face my pain and sadness. The only way to do that is to feel it. I am not going to lie. This was brutal, but I can confidently say that God met me in my sadness. He met me there with great comfort!
How did He do this?
He did this through Himself and through God’s people. Let me explain.
Romans 8:28 says that God causes all things to work together for the good for God’s people. How could the church plant collapsing be good? Before I answer that, let’s look at Romans 8:26. This tells us that when we are in pain, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. In essence, the Holy Spirit is praying for us. Amazing! It is even better that that. When He intercedes, it is so intense we can’t even understand it. It sounds like groans. When our son died and when the church collapsed, there was some definite groaning going on with me. It was so comforting to know that God, the Holy Spirit, was groaning intensely with me in my pain!
He was with me, and that brought me comfort. This opened my eyes to see the good that is mentioned in Romans 8:28. The good is defined in the rest of the chapter. Through the pain, God conforms us into the image of Jesus, and looking like Jesus is good! It’s really good!
Had I not experienced God comforting my pain like he did in Romans 8:26, I don’t know if I could have fully understood the good that can come from pain that Romans 8:28 describes. I am so thankful for how He brought comfort to our sadness.
He also brought comfort through God’s people. In Romans 12:15, part of the verse tells us to weep with those who weep. We had folks who did this with us. One of those was our very good friend, Jim. Outside of Jesus, no one has taught me how to deal with pain and sadness more than Jim. He loved on my wife and I, and he comforted us. He wept with us when our church didn’t make, and He wept with us when our son died. He was comfortable with not trying to give explanation to what happened or why it happened. He was comfortable just weeping with us. When he wept with us, we were comforted.
We have seen how God comforts us when we grieve over our pain, and we have seen how God’s people can just weep with us to help comfort our pain. Let me tell you one more thing God does to help bring healing to sad hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us that God comforts us in our pain so we can comfort others.
When pastors struggle with their church or when church planters don’t have a church to show for their efforts, I know how to comfort them. Why? I have experienced the pain and sadness from our church plant not making, and I have experienced God’s comfort for that pain. Therefore, I know how to comfort someone who is hurting in that same respect. When I offer them comfort, this provides me more healing for the pain and sadness of my past.
When someone loses their child, the pain and sadness is intense. We know that first hand. We also know how God brings comfort in that deep sadness, and we know how to comfort others who have experienced this deep pain. On one occasion, I even assisted in the funeral of an infant. Believe this or not, God used me comforting this couple to bring some healing to my wife and I for the loss of our son.
What’s the point? Don’t bury the sadness. Don’t explain it away. When we do, that pain and sadness often leads us to idolatry so we can forget about the pain.
God wants us to feel the pain, grieve it, and let Him comfort us. God wants His people to weep with us. God wants us to comfort others in the same way we have been comforted. When this happens, we don’t run to idols. We experience healing.
Let us to run to Jesus and only Jesus! Let us bow down to only Him! Let God and His people provide us comfort. May God comfort our pain, and may He use that pain to help us become more like Jesus!