Craig Groeschel - Where is God When You Hurt?
So I'm wondering, how y'all doing? Like really? Yeah. Like how are you doing? When people ask me that now, it's never been more complicated to answer in my whole life. People say so how are you doing and I just like, I pause and I hesitate and all these thoughts go through my mind. Like should I tell you the truth? Or should I answer it contextually, like how am I doing based on all the stuff that's going on right now. Like how you doing? It's a complicated question to answer.
I saw a post on social media, somebody put this up. They said what one word best describes your emotional state and then in parentheses it said no cuss words. I thought that was funny, no cuss words. What would you say to answer that question? If there would be one word to summarize your emotional state, no cuss words, what would that word be? I went and I asked some of my friends like hey, if there was one word that would describe what you're feeling right now? One guy, he just looked at me and he said numb. Just feel numb. A couple of people said things like they were angry, a couple of people said they were irritated. Some have said they're anxious or afraid.
I think for me if there would be one word to summarize my emotional state right now it would be just the word unsettled. Unsettled, everything feels unsettling to me. Even like the small things. Like it used to be easy just to go up and greet somebody. Now, I don't know about you but like I'm measuring it out. Like what, what are you? Are you a strict six-footer or do you say screw all that and you're coming in for the hug? I don't know how to approach you. Are we knuckle bumping or are we awkward? Do I need my mask, do I not? I don't know, it's awkward. Even the little things like that and then there's the big things, the economic uncertainty and the racial tension and the political division and everybody's so emotional.
Anybody, type it in the chat. Y'all are crazy, just type that in. Yo everybody, y'all are crazy. So emotional, so what I thought we'd do over the next few weeks is dive into the theme of emotions but not just talk about emotions but talk about them from a Gospel-centered perspective. God has given us emotions, they are from God and to what I wanna do is I wanna look at the emotions of Jesus. What he endured, what he felt and let his emotions help center our emotions that we're not just reacting but we're responding with Gospel-centered emotion.
So I did a little research into the emotions of Jesus and one article I read said that they're, that Jesus in the four Gospels, he actually displayed 39 different emotions. 39 emotions, I didn't know for years that there were a total of 39 different emotions until I had teenage daughters and then I could see all 39 in a 30 second conversation. Jesus was God in the flesh, He was God and yet He was a human being and He expressed and felt very real emotions. I'll give you some examples.
For example, whenever Jesus looked over Jerusalem and He saw all these people that He loved, that God loved and they were disconnected from God. He felt this deep, sincere emotion of grief. They're missing out on the very thing God wants for them. Whenever there were religious leaders that cared more about the rules and the law than people. He felt this righteous anger toward the hypocrisy and the sin and the lack of love. Whenever 72 followers came back and were talking about how God had used them to make a difference, He felt the overwhelming sense of being overjoyed at the faithfulness of God through His people. When His friend, Lazarus died, even though He knew He had the power of life to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus felt the emotion of just profound sadness and wept over the death of His close friend. Before going to the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what was about to come and He felt lonely, anxiety. He felt overwhelmed knowing the pain that was to come.
What I wanna do today, to start our series on emotions is I wanna look at one of the emotions of Jesus. What he feels toward us and believe that that will help us to express that emotion toward others. We're gonna look in Luke's Gospel today and to give you the context, we'll be in Luke 7. We'll start in verse 11 and Jesus had just finished preaching His famous message known as the Sermon on the Mount. Verse 11 says that, "Soon afterward Jesus went with His disciples to a village of Nain and a large crowd followed Him. A funeral procession was coming as He approached the village. And the young man who had died was a widow's only son".
Somebody say only son. Only son. "And a large crowd followed the village was with her. When the Lord, when Jesus saw her". Here's the emotion. "His heart overflowed with compassion". He looked at this woman and He said, "'Don't cry.' He said. Then He walked over to the coffin and He touched it, and the bearers stopped. 'Young man,' Jesus said. 'I tell you, get up.' And the dead boy sat up and began to talk. And Jesus gave him back to his mother". Luke says that "Great fear swept the crowd and they praised God, saying, 'A mighty prophet has risen among us,' and 'God has visited His people today'".
The power of Jesus expressed through deep and sincere compassion. Let's try to visualize this if you can. Jesus is walking up and there's a funeral procession. That would be a lot different than ours today. There were no police officers with you know, bright lights and such. What there would've been very likely quite honestly is mourners, some of them might have been professional mourners, it wasn't uncommon to pay people to go and they would take flutes and tambourines and they would walk down the streets and they would play the instruments and they would wail in sadness. Ahh, representing the grief of this type of loss and so Jesus walks up on this very emotional, most likely very loud scene and there's some things we know, a lot of things we don't know.
For example we don't know about this poor, grieving single mom. We don't know how old she is. She might have been 23, she might have been in her late 30s. We don't know how her husband died. Was it an accident, was it, did he have some kind of sickness, we don't know. We don't know how old the boy was. Was he a three-year-old, was he a 12-year-old, we really don't know. What we do know is most likely, the little boy had died the day before and the reason we know this is because back in this time in history they didn't have formaldehyde and the same types of quality embalming ingredients that we would have today and because of the climate, whenever a person died the burial would be very, very quickly. Almost always the next day.
So if you can imagine, you've got this young mom who's already lost her husband, this boy's father and now she's a widow and she loses her only son. Emotional, overwhelmed with grief. At her deepest moment of pain. Verse 13 says, "the Lord Jesus saw her". He saw her, what's really interesting is there's over 40 references in the Gospels that we're told that Jesus saw someone. Which is funny to me, over 40 times we say it says Jesus saw somebody. Because you would think He saw everybody right? Unless He was like praying but He actually might have seen them if He's praying 'cause He said watch and pray is what you should do if you're praying while you're driving, watch and pray.
So He saw a lot of people but what the author's telling us is He didn't just see, He noticed. Have you noticed there's a difference between looking and seeing. I'm a guy man, like I can like look and just not see. I don't always notice which is really difficult for me because I'm married to Amy noticer Groeschel. If you're married to somebody like that, okay. She notices everything. I've trained myself to notice. Like one time I saw her but I didn't notice she had her hair dyed, she had her cut.
So now just a little marriage tip, what you just say is like two, three times a week. Like wow, did you do something to your hair? You just say that, it's just a good thing. Wow you know, your hair looks great, did you do something to it? You just say that, two three times a week because she notices everything. Well I could come over to your house and we leave and she's like did you notice the wallpaper, it was amazing. I'm like they had walls, I didn't notice that. Weddings are the worst, my gosh weddings. I had no idea there were 43 million things to notice at a wedding. I notice one thing, food or no food, that's all I notice. Did you notice the flowers? Did you notice the way the mom looked at the, you know there's the, did you see the oh okay.
Jesus looks on, He doesn't just, just see but He, He sees her, He saw her, He noticed her. She was a single mom, a widow who lost her husband and now she loses her only son and in the middle of all this chaos, Jesus looks on at her, the Lord saw her. What emotion did Jesus feel when He saw someone in deep and profound pain? What Jesus felt is the very same thing that He feels for you whenever you're hurting. What He felt for her was the very same thing that He feels for you. When you're afraid, when your marriage is struggling, when you're trying to pay your bills and you don't know how you're gonna pay your bills. Whenever you're praying and praying and praying for a child who's making crazy decisions and you're aching, hoping, believing your child will be okay.
Jesus feels the very same thing for you when you're hurting as He did for this woman who was in pain. When the Lord saw her, Scripture says verse 13, "When the Lord saw her, His heart overflowed with compassion". There wasn't enough room even in His heart for all the compassion that He felt. His heart overflowed with compassion. The root Greek word that's translated as compassion is a really cool word. The word is splagna, everybody say splagna. splagna. S-P-L-A-G-N-A, you can type that in the chat. splagna, I like that word I like it a lot. It sounds like, have you ever stuck your finger down your throat and you splagna everywhere, that's what it sounds like. And the truth is that's very much what it's like because this word, it means to feel from the guts or from the intestines. There is no stronger word in the Greek language to represent the depth of compassion. Feeling for someone else from the bowels.
I read one article about this word and the picture the author said was, imagine driving up on a car wreck. Truly you've probably had this at some point and you have this sinking feeling, oh I hope they're okay. Then you notice maybe two people that are injured by the side of the road and the first responders are trying to attend to them and you're like oh God, I hope they're gonna live. And you feel for them. Then you recognize the car and know the two people are two people you love, that's splagna. It's the depths of, it's hurting from the guts, from the inside.
The Lord saw her pain. He noticed, He felt it in His bowels and He cared. I don't know who needs to hear this today but the Lord our God knows what you're going through. And He cares about you more than you could imagine. He sees your pain, He hears the cries of your heart. He knows when you feel desperate, He knows when you can't catch a breath. When your heart rate pounds and you feel so much anxiety. That you can barely even find your next breath. The Lord sees you, He knows that pain. When you're praying for your marriage, when you don't know when you're gonna find your next job, when you feel anxious, when you feel frustrated, when you feel afraid, the Lord sees you, He notices and He cares.
Jesus sees this grieving single mom, He hurts with her, He grieves for her and then in verse 13 He says this. He says to her, "Don't cry". Don't cry. "And he walks over to the coffin and He touched it, and the bearers stopped". He touched it, He touched the coffin. What's really interesting, the coffin wouldn't be anything like the coffins that we see today. These coffins were, like ours would have like a side and a lid on it. These coffins would generally be like a flat piece of wood on some wheels, kind of like a buggy and they'd put the body on top of the coffin and the body would almost always be exposed.
So when Jesus goes up and He touched the coffin, this was shocking. Like this was completely scandalous, this was unheard of. People would gasp everywhere because the Pharisees, they had all these religious laws, these rules and most of their rules were all concerned with the outside. Like here's the show I want you to see, here's the, here's the image, that's all. I wanna portray something I may not be on the inside but I'm gonna show you outwardly that I'm incredibly religious. They had 613 of these very distinct, very strict laws. One of which was you don't touch a dead body or you don't touch anything that touched a dead body because if you touch a dead body or if anything touches that dead body and you touch what touches the dead body, you become unclean just like the, you're ceremonially unclean.
Jesus, this prophet claiming to be the Son of God touches something to make Him spiritually unclean. When Jesus touched the coffin, what He did was He crossed a line. I love this about Jesus, Jesus is a line-crosser. He is a rule-breaker. Every time religion would draw a line, Jesus would cross that line, why? Because love crosses lines. Whatever line that you feel right now, maybe keeping God at a distance, you need to understand, He crosses lines for those that He loves. Jesus is a line crosser, He is a rule breaker. What religion does, distorted religion, the religiosity, the legalism that's all about rules and not about love, what it does is, it draws lines to keep people out.
The tragedy is, that's the very thing that have kept some of you or someone you love from the things of God. I don't wanna go to that church 'cause everybody's a legalistic, a hypocrite and, and that's what religion wrongly does. With good intentions, it draws lines and if that part of the church bothers you, it bothered Jesus too. Jesus didn't want any line, any external rule to keep people from experiencing Him, His love, His grace, His power and that's why we don't draw lines to keep people out. We cross lines to bring people in. That's what we do, that's what we do. That's why we will open up a church in the middle of a global pandemic. We'll open up a new campus because we believe people need the grace of Jesus.
So ignoring the religious policies, Jesus touches the coffin. Perhaps even touches this boy. No boundaries, no rules, no laws can keep Jesus from expressing the depth of the compassion that He feels for those who are hurting. Jesus touches the boy and imagine the crowd gasps, scandalous, how can you do this? But more incredibly, the boy gasps. Yes, come on. He took a breath and he started talking. Somebody oughta give God some praise right now. Because whatever feels dead in your life right now, with one touch of Jesus it can come back to life.
Somebody here, that's what you need today. You need one touch, just one touch. Just one touch from the author of life, the giver of life brings dead things back to life. Just one touch, just one moment, just one word, just one sense that not only is He with you but He cares. What did it take? To completely alter this boy and his grieving mom, just one touch. My prayer is today, somebody watching online. Somebody who came back into church for the first time that there would be one moment, one word, one song, one prayer, one sense of the goodness and the grace of God crossing whatever barrier that you feel has separated you. And know that our God crosses lines to show His love. Just one touch.
The Lord saw her, He cared and He touched, just one touch. Just one, just one touch, just one. And it's almost impossible to describe what this did for this grieving widow. Because moments before she had nothing. Not, not only did she lose those she loved but she couldn't even support herself. In this culture, if you didn't have a husband or you didn't a son, those were your means of support.
As crazy as it is, that women just weren't allowed and didn't have the ability to create any kind of means to even feed themselves and so she would've had basically two options. One is she's a beggar, dependent on other people for the rest of her life. Or the other is much worse and she'd have to use her bodies that would be unthinkable. Just to have something to eat and so Jesus touches this boy. He comes back to life and Jesus carries the boy to this single mom and not only does He give her her son back but He gives her hope back. It's my prayer today that for somebody who feels anxious and somebody who feels afraid, and somebody who feels bitter and irritated, and agitated, and always on guard, or for someone even feels unsettled like me. That with just one touch, God would give you your hope back. Just one touch, just one touch. Just one touch, just one touch.
Well I wasn't expecting this, I don't have the words to tell you how much I love you, my church family. And we're all making the best of this time. What I know right now is like there's some of you that wanna come to church, some of you can't, some forgot about. And I love this place so much, I love the presence of God so much. There's something about it and it's a complicated time but I just, I grieve knowing how disconnected people can be spiritually. And what's really interesting is I have had undeniable passion to preach and haven't wavered in my faith at all. But I've had the most spiritually dry season of ministry since the pandemic started and for me it goes back into February when I was kind of at a point of exhaustion, truthfully, and I had some time off coming in March.
Well forget that, and then I had some time coming off again in the summer and I had to preach two messages for vacation and in the middle of a really complicated season and all this time I never once wavered but I just couldn't hear from God. Like I couldn't hear from God and I was making decisions about the church that are very complicated and I was making them kind of on faith. Like well this feels like it's right and this seems like it's right and I just, like God just give me anything. Just one word, like I just couldn't hear from God and it didn't like make me afraid that He's not there at all. It didn't make me feel like He didn't love me. I was never that place, I just felt like heaven was silent.
Every year I ask God to give me a word for the year and this year I couldn't find a word. What's your word, like ah it's so good I can't tell you. But I didn't have a word, like just a one word that helps, one word, one year my word was focus, one year it was enjoyment, one year it was rest, one year it was big faith. You know that's two but that's what mine was. Jesus, Amy's was Jesus which is really unfair 'cause like what's your word gonna be, hers is Jesus, she wins. You know but that's her, Jesus okay. And so I could, I couldn't even hear that, not one word.
And so I just cried out to God non-stop. Just, just anything. And I was listening to a book, it wasn't even a Christian book, it was just a book and I heard one word and it wasn't audible but it was so loud it was almost audible and I just heard the word steady and when I heard it, I'm telling you, I sat down, I was in the kitchen, I just sat down and I just stopped. Like, there you go God. There you go God. I can lead, with steady faith. I can preach with steady endurance. I can show back up, not knowing exactly what to do and how to respond and I can, I can have a steady confidence in the faithfulness of God.
And so if you wanna know what have I heard from God in the last six months, one word. And that's all I needed. Just one touch. So if I look steady at all, it's because I've experienced the goodness of one word from God. So how you doing? If you could describe your emotional state, in one word, what would you say? I'm settled, anxious, afraid, desperate, hopeless, tense, irritated, agitated, frustrated? Cry out to the God who is moving towards you as you speak. Whatever line you feel separates you from His goodness, know that He's stepping across that line. He is a rule-breaker who cares about you and there is nothing that's going to keep Him from pursuing you, for reaching out to you, from loving you, from showing you His grace and His goodness. He's coming for you. To show you He notices, He sees, He cares and He cares about you more than you can imagine.
When this widow's only son experienced the resurrection life from the only Son of God, there was nothing that was dead that His compassion couldn't bring back to life. Get your hope back, get your hope back, get your hope back, he's coming for you. He cares about you. Just one touch.
So Father, today we pray in the name of the one who is resurrection life, that you would touch God those who are hurting, those who are afraid, those who are confused, and those who feel alone and those who feel lost.
At all of our churches today, those of you who are, who are streaming somewhere online, if you'd say yeah I really wanna experience His compassion, I wanna know that He cares. I want just one touch, if that's you just lift up your hand or type it in the chat right now. I want just one touch.
Father I pray for those who may feel like I've felt, kind of like heaven was silent that you just crack it open and send one beam of light, one word, one song, one moment. One word of encouragement, one prayer, one Scripture God, just one word. And God that we would recognize, believe it, take it to the bank. That you noticed God, you see the pain, you care from the depths of compassion. And God, as you love us, give us that same type of compassion God for those who are hurting, broken, afraid and lost. God give us to that your church, give us that God that we could show your compassion to those who need your love. God make us line crossers, rule breakers, not drawing lines to keep people out but God crossing lines, doing whatever it takes. Anything short of sin God to reach people who don't know your Son Jesus. God for those who are hurting today, God reveal to them just how much you noticed, just how much you care. God give them just one touch.
As you keep praying today, at all of our different churches, there are those of you, you're gonna recognize that you have a very real and a very deep spiritual need and one of the things that I am thankful for in this complicated season is that there are many of you that are starting to ask spiritual questions that maybe you didn't ask earlier and let me try to just explain this as clearly as I can to you. Doesn't matter what you're doing in your life right now, doesn't matter what you've done, doesn't matter those dark secrets, that thing from the past that you're ashamed of, all of those things that you would die if anybody ever knew, our God still loves you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine.
And in a very real sense you could kind of say like, God did something that was unthought of. He kind of crossed a line, He became one of us. In the person of His son Jesus. He didn't just like shout His love from heaven but He showed His love on earth. When Jesus crossed lines to reach out to those that religion rejected. Jesus was perfect, He never sinned. He died on a cross, He became the innocent sacrifice so that our sins could be forgiven. God raised Him from the dead so that anybody and this includes you.
Doesn't matter what you thought, doesn't matter what you feel. Doesn't matter what kind of deep, dark thoughts you've had. Doesn't matter what you've said about God in the past. Anyone who calls out on this name, the name of Jesus. God will hear your prayer, He'll forgive every sin you've ever committed. What's dead in your life can come back to life. You can get your hope back, hope in a God who is good, hope in a God who does care. Hope in a God who notices and hope in a God who sent Jesus so you could know His love.
Wherever you're watching from today, those who say I want that, I want His grace. I need His forgiveness, I'm just gonna turn away from all that junk, that filth. I'm gonna turn towards Jesus, He's the one I want, I wanna follow Him, I wanna be like Him. Today I give my life to Jesus. All of our churches, wherever you're watching this. Your prayer, I need His forgiveness, I surrender, I give my life to Him. If that's you, lift your hands now, right now at all of our churches and say yes. Those of you, Church Online or watching to say I need Jesus, I want Jesus, I give my life to Jesus. Just type that in and as we see people at all of our churches today crying out to Him, would you take a moment and just pray aloud with people around the world.
Heavenly Father forgive my sins. Jesus change me. Make me new. Thank you for noticing, thank you for caring. And thank you for sending Jesus to make me new. I surrender my life, I give it all to you. Thank you for new life, you have all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.