Tim Keller describes the Christian faith as hopeful realism; having a realistic attitude about the gritty, messy brokenness of our world whilst still being hopeful in Jesus Christ who has ‘overcome the world’ and is redeeming it.
It’s not joy despite suffering or joy because of suffering, but joy in suffering.
Here's some of the details for parish life this week...
Here's the series overview: Defiant joy!
Watch back on last Sunday's online church gathering on our church facebook page.
Johnny would welcome your prayers for a number of weddings & funerals in these days.
Join us for private prayer at St Paul's on its reopening, with a maximum of 15 at one time; Wednesday 5th August: 1-2pm and weekly thereafter.
Midweek sung worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page
Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all
The ongoing John gospel daily series, on Johnny's personal Facebook page
Each Sunday our 'hospitality at home' after church via a 1115 Zoom group church conversation get deeper and sweeter; sign-in details are in the church family email sent by Noah each Thursday. Email signup via email@example.com
Wednesday morning's are really precious times, 30 minutes of focussed prayer at 0830 each week, you'd be so welcome to join us. Here's the zoom link.
If you or others you know are struggling, do be in touch with Pauline Pearson our Pastoral Care Team leader. Direct any queries if you wish to firstname.lastname@example.org
Today in our 1030 online service, Adam Poole talks through how there can be joy to be found in the suffering in our fourth part of our defiant joy series; Emma-Jane is sharing an all-age moment with children's and youth resources here. Jenny Bracey is sharing something of her faith story.
Defiant joy in suffering - Matthew 28:20
How do we find that joy?
In Jesus who is:
- With us in suffering
- For us in suffering
- and working through us in suffering.
What are your valley moments, are you still in one, are you walking with a friend through one?
The same Jesus who went before us in facing suffering… Following his death and his resurrection says these words to his disciples and to us today…
- Matthew 28:20 : ‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’
God is not frustrated with you. God is not wearied by you. God is not punishing you in your suffering.
- John Stott writes: ‘God does not love us because Christ died for us, Christ died for us because God loved us.’
This is the way God appears to work. Through weakness. Through suffering.
- The ultimate victory, of all things, came through a man nailed to a wooden cross.
For your personal reflection and study:
What’s been your valley during lockdown? Boredom / Longing / Fear / Grief?
What do you think about the phrase hopeful realism to describe Christianity? Is it helpful? Why / why not?
Have you ever felt tempted to look for joy despite your suffering, or even because of your suffering?
Why might this not be helpful?
Does the Bible have an alternative solution for joy?
List reasons why this is true and how might it give comfort when we are suffering?
What are your instant reactions to a passage like this? How might the truths in it help us when we are suffering?
What are your reactions to Corrie ten Boom’s story where, even through facing the horrors of Auschwitz, she is able to say ‘God’s love still stands when all else has fallen.’?
In what ways have you seen or experienced God working within suffering?
Can you think of examples in Scripture whereby God brings hope through chaos? Any examples today too?
Where are you growing in your experience of Jesus? Are you discovering more of Jesus as your saviour, as your King or as your friend?
Which of these would you like to discover more of in your ongoing faith journey? How might you do that?
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ - James 1 v 2-4
'We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ' - 1 Thess 1 v 1-3
‘Suffering is not a failure of faith on our part; its presence does not mean the absence of the promises of God’.
‘If we want to live in the power of Jesus resurrection, we must first pass through the crucifixion’. Staci Eldridge