Text: My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
There are many milestones in a person’s life. There is the day that you graduate from high school. There is the day that you get married. The birth of your first child is another milestone. Your child’s first day of school is another. For us, the day of your confirmation is also a milestone in your life. It is the day that you have the opportunity to share with your fellow believers that you believe the same thing that they do. It is the day that you make a vow to your God that you will remain faithful to what you have learned and are willing to suffer anything, even death itself, rather than turn from it. Kaylee, your family and fellow members join with you in observing this milestone in your life. We thank God that he has made you his own through baptism and that he has taught you the truths of his Word. We also note that this not the end of the journey, but a stage along the way until you reach your heavenly home. As we study the verse that you have chosen for your confirmation verse, we want to give you encouragement through all of the stages of your life. AS YOU GO FORWARD IN LIFE, remember that 1. Although There Are Things That Distress You, 2. God’s Promises Are Always Sure.
Kaylee, what are some of the things that have caused you distress in your life? Perhaps, it was when you were in a game and your team counted on you to make a point or a basket. You may have felt distress over the fact that you were not able to finish your school year in the classroom and to be able to say good-bye to your friends. I would guess that there was a little distress in getting ready for your examination this morning. I’m sure that there have been other things that distressed you, as well.
I wish that I could tell you that, from here on out, there will not be things that distress you, that cause suffering. I wish I could, but I can’t. Because we live in a world that has been affected by sin, things are not perfect. As God spoke to Adam and Eve after the Fall into sin, he told them that there would be pain. He said that, even though you work hard at something, it will not always work out. There will be thorns and thistles. There will be things that cause distress. You will encounter them throughout your life. Jesus stated this fact in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” There is no getting around the fact that you will encounter things that distress you, that cause you suffering.
However, as painful as those things might be, they are nothing compared with the suffering that is brought about by sin. You were born a sinful human being. As you reminded us during your examination, there are many different ways that we sin against our God every single day. There are the times when we have put things or people in the place that God reserves for himself. We have not always obeyed and respected our parents and others in authority. We have been angry with other people. Rather than taking people’s words and actions in the kindest possible way, we have automatically assumed the worst about others. We have not been content with what God has given us. The list goes on and on about how we have disobeyed God. As a result of these sins, there are times when we have had to face the consequences of our actions. We also know that there are eternal consequences for our sinful thoughts, words, and actions. God says so very clearly in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Our consciences bear witness to the fact that we sinned against God and rightly deserve his eternal punishment. As a result of our sins, our consciences bother us. They may keep us awake at night. We may have forgotten all about a sin that we have committed. Then there is something that reminds us about what we have done and our consciences distress us all over again. Because of our sins, we feel distress.
When the things of this world and our sins cause us this distress, where can we look for comfort? The world offers various solutions. You can try to escape it by getting busy. Then, you won’t have time to think about it. There are ways to try and numb the pain, but they only lead to other problems. As far as sin goes, the world tells us that they really aren’t all that bad. Everyone does them. What you call a sin really isn’t a sin. It’s your choice. It’s up to you to decide what’s good to do and what is not. It will minimize sin and tell us, “At least, you didn’t do this or that.” However, none of these will give us the comfort that we are looking for.
The only true source of comfort in our distress is found in your confirmation verse, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” The psalmist makes it very clear where he finds comfort in his suffering and distress. It comes from God’s promises. How is this possible? It is interesting to note how the Evangelical Heritage Version of the Bible, which I believe you will be receiving, translates this verse. It says, “This is my comfort in my suffering: that your saying gives me life.” “Your saying” or we could say, “Your Word” gives me life. It is through the gospel message that we have life. The gospel points us to Jesus Christ and what he has done for our salvation. In the gospel, we see the love that Jesus had for us in coming to this world to live the perfect life that we never could. As you read the account of his life, you see that in every single one of Jesus’ words and actions, he lived a perfect life. We know this to be true, because the Father said of him, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 17:5) Since God is only pleased with perfection, we have his seal of approval on all that Jesus did. Then, in the ultimate show of love, Jesus went to the cross where he was punished in our place. He took the full force of his Father’s anger against sin in our place. Jesus suffered the torments of hell, the punishment that we deserved, so that we would never have to. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, our sins have been forgiven. In God’s Word, we find the pinnacle of our salvation in the good news of Easter. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that our sins have been forgiven. We know that, if death should take us before he comes again in glory, we will rise on the Last Day. Because of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, we know that eternal life is waiting for us. This is the life-giving message that is found in God’s Word.
Moreover, on the day that you were baptized, you were brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. That is because the water that was poured on your head on that day was joined together with the life-giving Word of God. You became a child of God on that day. You can find your comfort in that fact. You are God’s child. Should there be a sin that distresses your conscience, you can calm it by reminding yourself that Jesus died for that sin, too. There is no sin that is so large that Jesus’ blood couldn’t cover it. You can find your comfort in the fact that, through the gospel message, you have been given life.
Since it is true that you are God’s child, you also have the assurance, “Your promise preserves my life.” God has made so many promises to us. Since he is God and he cannot lie, we know that we can count on every single one of them. For example, read through the eighth chapter of the book of Romans. You will find a very confident apostle Paul there. There we find the familiar words of Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Just think what that verse is telling you. As you go through life, you will encounter good things as well as some not so pleasant things. God is promising you that, no matter the situation you are going through, whether good or bad, he is always going to make it work out for your benefit. Sometimes, you may be able to see the benefits right away. Other times, you may see it after some time has passed. There will even be those times that we won’t fully understand until we get to heaven. However, as you face the various situations in your life, you have this promise from God, and you can count on it. You can find many such promises like these in his Word.
I want to highlight one more promise from your Savior. In the closing verse of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to you, “Surely I am with you always until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Just think what Jesus is promising you there. He is telling you that he will always be with you. No one else can make that promise to you. Even your family and friends cannot make that promise to you. They may have the best of intentions to always be there for you, but there will be times when they can’t be there or they would like to help, but they just don’t know how. Jesus will always be there for you. He won’t leave you stranded. Because he is God, he not only wants to help you, but he has the ability to do so. As you go through this life, you can count on the sure promises that come from God.
As we began our sermon this morning, we noted the various milestones that happen in a person’s life. Today is a very special one for you, especially as you make your confirmation vows. It is our prayer that the Lord would give you the strength to keep them. You will receive this strength as you continue in his Word and receive his body and blood with the bread and wine in Holy Communion. As you go forward from this day, remember that, even though there will be times of distress, you can always count on the sure promises of God. Amen.
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