“Life Is Tough”

Pastor David Moore

New Testament reading: Luke 22:39-53 (NIV)  

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed Him. On reaching the place, He said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but  yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.  

When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”  

While He was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.  But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And He touched the man’s ear and healed him.  Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for Him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”  

Theme: Solomon has written Ecclesiastes in a unique style, he is asking questions, pushing his readers to examine what the meaning of life is. He does this by using a strawman, by setting the man up and knocking him down again and again, to push us or shake us from our flawed thinking.  

Old Testament reading: Ecclesiastes 3:9-4:3 (NIV)  

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is  the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.  

What is has already been, and what will be has been done before; and God will call the past to account.  

And I saw something else under the sun:  

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.  I thought in my heart,  

God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every  activity, a time for every deed.”  

I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?  

So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?  

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:  I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.  

If there is no God, nothing matters. If there is a God, nothing else matters. ~H. G. Wells  

History is a problem for thinking people because there has been no progress and no justice. We are still sinful people, we are still selfish as humans, we are still in it for ourselves. ~D. Moore  

There is no progress; we aren’t going anywhere. People are born and people die. Round and round, over and over. ~D. Moore  

What we see are tragedies, injustice, chaos. We all must grasp unjust suffering. There are philosophical answers to these questions. Today we will explore the worldly options to deal with the falling of man.  ~D. Moore  

The first philosophy is monism, an Eastern philosophy that says the world is an illusion. Since the world is an illusion, so suffering is an illusion and to stop suffering you need to change your thinking.  

Types of monism:  

1. Materialism:  

-All that exists is matter  

-There are no minds or souls or spirits  

-Only physical matter exists  

2. Idealism  

-All that exists are minds and ideas in minds  

-Nonmental matter is an illusion created by the mind  

-All that physical universe is produced by the mind of God.  

The next philosophy is the stoic view. Stoics believe in suffering, but it carries no real meaning, so how you deal with suffering is to endure it. There is nothing to be learned from suffering, just keep moving.  Stoics believe you care less to what will happen because it is random. Monism trivializes our desire for joy and love and the stoic wants to destroy the desires. ~D. Moore  

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not. ~Epictetus  

The dualism states these are two equally oppressed forces. The forces are always in conflict. The problem is that because God is not in control, with the opposing forces of good and evil, it means that there will be no judgment day. There will be a time when wrongs are righted, and evil is purified. ~D.  Moore  

The more modern thought is existentialism, which basically says the world is without purpose or meaning, but I will create my own meaning, my own purpose. Existentialists don’t believe in God’s absolute truth; everything is essentially a collision of molecules. 

Other themes to live by:  

Hedonistic life: is to avoid anything unpleasurable (mostly being selfish). Avoid commitment, avoid  pacts, arrangements like marriage. The Hedonist avoids all entrapments.  

The romantic says everything is connected, good people deserve a good life and bad people deserve bad lives. (The prosperity gospel.) Anything bad happens, that person deserves it.  

The political solution to suffering is to blame others, it is their fault. Suffering is because of them.  

All these philosophies and beliefs in dealing with suffering do not work. They do not satisfy; they trivialize suffering as lower God’s authority. You cannot build a world on these ideas because they deny two important aspects of God 1) an all-powerful judge of history and 2) a wise and loving Creator, a weaver of history. ~D. Moore  

Solomon teaches: (verse 15) Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account. (Verse 17) God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked.  God is personally delaying judgment day. The Bible says God is delaying judgment day out of love, but it is coming. ~D. Moore  

Any philosophy which doesn’t have a judgment day isn’t worth much because it means all evil ultimately goes unpunished. This causes us to be angry and wanting our judgment now. God will take  care of balancing of the scales in His own time. ~D. Moore 

Have you considered God’s perspective lately? “God has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God has the vantage point to see all things and how it makes sense. The Bible tells us suffering is a test alert that refines and shelters us. The answer is in Jesus, He used the suffering and was obedient to the Father, to honor and give glory to God.  If you are suffering, hold Jesus’ hand to ease the suffering, humble yourself and God will lift you when the time is right.

God bless.