Der Vasken's Sermon on October 7, 2018

Oct 10, 2018

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

"After all this woman went through in life, did she really have to die like this?"

As hard as these words are to hear, they were even harder to say.  I said them a few days ago.  Let me briefly share with you why.  I received a phone call early last week from a funeral home we deal with often here at Holy Trinity.  And as the funeral director explained to me who the family was that experienced a death, he shared with me how the person died.  It was shocking.  It was tragic.  It was something I had never dealt with before.

The deceased was a woman I had met a few times over the years.  She was a mother of adult children.  Her children were married here and they baptized their children here.  They immigrated here nearly three decades ago.  This family escaped the atrocities that befell the Armenian population in Baku back in the late 1980's.  They were saved by the Soviet army.  They had to leave their homes, their photos, their family heirlooms, their family graves, their history and their hopes and dreams behind--never to return. 

This woman and her family made it to the United States in search of a safer, better life.  Things were going well for her family. Her children saw success in their careers.  Life was starting to look up for them and the next generation would clearly live in better circumstances than she did when she was their age. But then tragedy occurred and a fire claimed her life.  After all that she endured, a fire ended her life and her children were understandably devastated and disappointed by life.  "After all this woman went through, did she really have to die like this?" I wondered.

But disappointment is, unfortunately, a part of our lives in this world.  No one seeks disappointment but it can easily find us.  One of the most important ways to live out our Christian faith is to learn how to overcome the disappointments of life. And to be honest, all of us face disappointments from time to time.  No matter how much faith we have or how good of a person we are, sooner or later something or someone will shake our faith to its foundations.  And it may be about something very simple.  It may be as simple as not getting the promotion your heart was set on; or not qualifying for a loan to buy that house you really wanted; or it may be something much more serious.  It may be a child, who headed down the wrong path, the passing of a loved one, or a debilitating illness that has entered your life.  Whatever it is, that disappointment possesses the potential to wreak havoc on your faith. 

That's why it's important to remember that disappointments will enter our lives and that we learn how to stay on track when they do.  It is common, when disappointment strikes, to blame God and put the owness on His shoulders.  How many times have you heard someone say:

  • Why did God do this to me?
  • How could God let something like this happen?
When I hear someone say this, I think of the words Jesus spoke many times and on different occasions:  "Be not afraid.  Be not afraid for I am with you always."  His Words are His promise and His Words encourage us to remember that when disappointments occur, God has not abandoned us.  He is standing there with us. His arms are open to embrace us and comfort us and to remind us that in His Kingdom there are no disappointments.  They are no debilitating illnesses or pains of any sort.  And when the tragedies and disappointments of life hit us with their best shot, their "best" will never be good enough for a person who stands with God.  Because when all is said and done, when the smoke clears and the dust settles, God will be standing with us and He will lift us up in His arms much like our fathers picked us up in their arms when they saw us hurting.

"Be not afraid," says the Son of God.  May the people we know, who are dealing with disappointment in life, hold a place in our prayers as they face their struggles and try to recover.  And may He bring comfort to them in their time of need.

Amen.