Whether you are of the Christian faith, or not, this is a good message from Pastor Charlie Alcock, at last week's worship service at Cypress Church, about the struggles of pain and waiting...
"In scripture, clearly, waiting is a part of the process. And Paul is a great example of that. So I talk about waiting in the silly way, alright. Then we come to scripture and talk about waiting in this example of a Biblical character that we all love and admire as Paul, and all despise as Saul. But thirteen years, between his conversion and his public ministry, he waited. And then, there's a third part of waiting, which I actually don't want to talk about. But I have to. And that's the waiting that's very similar to pain. All of us. All of us, in some form or fashion can identify with this kind of waiting."
"It was a really good Christmas. Everybody came over. You know, it was good times. You know, extended family. We had a chance to host people at our house. Hanging out. But we were really concerned with my niece Christy. She just isn't doing well. Now it's weird because Christy, in a way, even though she's my niece, to Roger, and to Becky, and I, she's almost like our little sister. Because, she was born when we were all very young. And grandma died very young. And Christy's mom died very young. And in a lot of ways Christy is our little sister. And her brother John. So it's kinda strange, where she's almost like our sister, than anything else. And her kids are kinda more like our niece and nephew. Its just the way the family works. You know what I'm talking about."
"Finally Joy, and Becky, and Amy are all like: 'you have to go see a doctor, that's going to give you a better understanding of what's going on." Because she went in, and had some nerve issues with her shoulder, and all this kind of stuff. But it just wasn't feeling right. And she just wasn't acting right. So early January, they really force her into this appointment. And the appointment was over quickly. And the appointment to get her directly into surgery was *snap* that fast. Because it wasn't nerve damage, it was a tumor in the back of her brain. And there's soo many people at this Church who have suffered through this."
"In fact, yesterday as I was driving over here, I called the family, I called Marlene Kujawa. And I told her what I was going to share today. I wasn't able to call a bunch of people who have suffered this way, like a bunch of you. So now there's a lot of people who are reliving some serious waiting and pain."
"Well, what I was learning through this process, is, as we get through that season of 'Ok, what is it?', to now the night before. They move her forward very quickly. Autumn and Aaron and Christy come to spend the night at our house, because the hospital was in the Indianapolis area, so it'd be a short drive that morning. That night she wants to have, and this is Christy, because she this, honestly, from her uncle John, this sarcasm. From her mother, she has this incredible tenacity. From her grandmother, this incredible strength. And from her uncle John - all three who have gone before, who've passed away - she got this sarcasm. So she's constantly making jokes in the worst moment for everybody else. And so she wants, 'Hey, what do you want for dinner?', she goes: 'For my last supper, I want this.' And it's like 'Christy, stop it.' And I know what she wants, she wants this pizza and these wings. And her kids are there. And we watch a movie. And we're trying to, like, be cool. But, it's not very cool. Like, you all know what I'm talking about. You all've suffered. This waiting is almost the worst. It's easy to talk about Biblical. But it's not really easy to talk about personal."
"That night we made sure that the bedrooms were set up perfectly. It's like: 'that one is, you know, everything is fresh for that one downstairs. You know you have everything up. You have the whole downstairs. We'll go upstairs. You just spend that time with your kids.' It was 4am when the alarm went off. Cause we had to get her on the road at 4:30 to be there, for a 5am prep time. And I sneak downstairs. And nobody slept in the bedrooms. On that big sectional couch, there's Christy asleep, and on one side of her is Autumn, and the other side is Aaron. They just spent the night like that. And even our dog was down there at, like, their feet. I mean, it was just, like, this big love-fest down there. So we had to wake them up. Kinda help carry the kids off to a bed, let them sleep in a little bit more. And that didn't work, because after about twenty minutes, it's like 'Hey we gotta get going.' So we start to sneak downstairs, and - you know what I'm talking about, you all can identify - you don't hear laughing or talking, you just hear crying. As Christy is hugging her kids goodbye. You know, we're like: 'It's gonna be ok, it's gonna be ok.' I don't know if it's gonna be ok. You don't know if it's gonna be ok."
"We're just waiting. You're waiting. You've been waiting. Is it going to be ok? What's next? I don't know. What if?"
"All that comes flooding in. And I can have a complete, total, and credible message based on the waiting that Paul went through. But it sometimes doesn't really do a lot when you're in the midst of it. And you're waiting. And the unknown is there. And you have to wonder what is next."
"I'll say it like this: 'Waiting is like pain. We will do almost anything to get out of it.'"
"We rehearsed, 'What could we do?' But the thing is, what was really crazy, for Becky, for Joy, for me, for Roger, for Amy, we couldn't do anything for John, her brother, and Cassie, her sister, there's nothing we could do. We couldn't make it right. I mean, that's what I revert to, it's like: 'Ok, I'll fix it, I'll stay up all night, we'll paint the house, we'll move it, I mean, we'll carry the car, we'll fix it, we can make this right.' In the midst of that kind of pain, in that kind of waiting, there's nothing you can do. What are you supposed to do next?"
"And I want to say this to you: 'In pain, its the power of prayer, that comforted, that brought peace.'"
"There's something else that happens in waiting, and pain. And the other one is this. It was like relearning it all over again. I learned it with my mom. I thought I learned it, but I didn't, when everything went down with my sister. So I thought we re-learned it with my sister, but, then again, I had to re-learn it again with my brother. And now we're re-learning it with Christy. And I thought I learned it with David Kujawa."
"And how many times have you had to re-learn this? That: 'The presence of pain is not the absence of God.' It's not."
"Not easy to think about it. Especially when you're living it. And there's people hearing my voice right now, who are living that reality. Right now. In fact, I think most of you are in your own context. In your own life. In your own situations. It might not be something that's physical. It might be emotional. There might be a relationship. There might be some history. There might be memories. There's soo much pain, in soo many people. And it's like you're waiting for it just to be over."
"What can we say to you? 'That pain, in the midst of your waiting, does not mean that God has left you, or abandoned you. But rather, he desires to be in the middle of it. Because who knows pain greater than Jesus? He suffered, bled, and died, so he could walk through our suffering and our bleeding.'"
"So when I think about waiting, and this sermon series. I would just want to pray over soo many of you, who are in pain, and you're waiting."
"Father, I ask, that you reveal yourself, to people who are in pain, who are waiting. God, reveal yourself. I would pray, number two, that you would bring people into our lives, that will pray, for us, and over us. How beautiful is the body of Christ, that would walk beside us, in the midst of our waiting and our pain. God, that we would understand and know, that you are: loving, faithful, and true. Even when it seems soo distant, at times. Draw us close to you. I pray for the renewing of our hearts, like Saul. The renewing of our minds, when he became Paul. The renewing of our relationships, with our community. God, that you would make us one. Bind us together in your name. And for your sake and for your glory, Amen."