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James 5: 13-20 “Don’t Want to Suffer” 9/30/2018 Rev. Jerry W. Krueger Boardman UMC

I sat at the kitchen table with my three boys, Will, Mike and John with dinner of garden salad, fresh corn on the cob, broccoli and smothered steak. Knowing one of my boys didn’t like broccoli, I was prepared for pushback. And I got it. Will scooted his plate back, makes a face and whined, “I don’t like broccoli. How can I suffer through eating that stuff? I’ll be sick. Yucch.” Then my son Michael said, “Are any among you suffering? You need to pray. Are you sick, Pray.” And of course the verbal bombs lobbed back and forth between the two made me laugh. Mike had used scripture as a tongue in cheek barb against his brother, but the point was made.

 

Often many of us suffer and we fail to pray. When we are cheerful, are we thanking God, praising him?

Anointing with balm or oil is biblical, as is confessing our shortcomings, our sins to another. Making amends is biblical so we can be guided in right, and righteous living.

 

Hear me church, suffering is not something manifested upon us by God. Suffering, and good things are part of life. But with suffering or hardship, we might limit our vision to self, or to our particular concerns, forgetting there are others among us who struggle or suffer also.

 

This scripture calls out to us and says, “No Whining.” It says, “Don’t wallow in your sadness, in your brokenness.” This says, “It’s NOT all about you”. This addresses the one who may even play the martyr and stays stuck in unhealthy behavior.

James pulls no punches. He says, “If you are in distress. PRAY! Call out to God. Go to the leader of the church, go to the one that hurt you, go to one you trust, and confess your cares, your worries, but be ready to focus just not on yourself, but on cleaning up your life. Move on, live a day at a time, see the good in people, and in the world, give God thanks.”

 

Find the prayer card in the pew, or bulletin, jot down a praise, a thanksgiving, or a concern. Hang on to it for now.

 

Our lives can encounter much sadness at times. There can be words from the past that hurt us, actions of others that inadvertently damaged a relationship. And there are those who go out of their way to make life miserable for others.

 

  1. James says, “Are any among you suffering?” If you answer yes, then he says, “Pray.” And after admitting we suffer, we take action, and pray. Our prayers are really about communication with God. Not just in times of suffering, or hardship, but in good times too.

 

Why is it that when things are going well, we’re not sick, bills are paid, and all seems right with the world, that we often fail to give God thanks and praise? It is only when times get tough, that many people pray?

 

James gives us a prescription that says. “You’re suffering? Pray. Things going well, pray.”

 

So I inquire of you, what are things you might give thanks to God for in prayer today? Please take a moment in the quiet, to offer thanks to God for someone, something thing, some good situation, some important place or event in our life you we are thankful for. Do it now. (PAUSE)

 

James does not tell us, nor does Jesus, that when we pray for health and wholeness or physical healing, it will immediately occur. In some instances where health declines in a person, the healing we pray for can result in, the ultimate healing. That the physical life closes, and the new life, the new eternal life in heaven with the Christ, becomes a reality.

 

Suffering is part of life, but so is happiness. I was grateful to hold little Emmie Rose Loree last week to baptize her. I was grateful to eat a meal with friends. I was grateful to be able to hear the rain, and see the full, luminous evening moon.

 

We live in a culture that minimalizes Christian beliefs. “If your God is so great, then he would have healed my Mom,” yelled the daughter of the woman who’d died. I said, “not all prayers are answered in the way WE desire, that we don’t possess the mind of God,” It made no difference to the angry, hurt woman.

 

The God she knew was the rabbit’s foot God, the Jack in the Box God, the “rescue me, bail me out, help, help God,” that gets called upon when we are in distress or in a jam.

 

“Do any among you suffer? Pray. Are any among you cheerful? Offer thanks to God. Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you might be healed.”

 

I invite you to think of something, that you need to get off of your plate. Something that you struggle with, and want to leave before God. Maybe it is your anger, your insensitivity, maybe it is an old wound or hurt, that you just have not been able to release. Today we have opportunity to pray, to leave our focus on self behind.

 

You will be invited to come forward with a prayer card that only I will read. Come forward for anointing on your forehead or back of your hand. Bring your prayer card, drop it in the closed box, and perhaps take opportunity to kneel and pray in the front pews, or kneel at the altar rail if you desire.

 

I invite you to be in an attitude of player. Lord God, turn my mourning into dancing. We pray that as Christ heals us, and mends the brokenhearted, and forgives those who repent, we might be made whole and new again. Lord you console us in our afflictions, so that we may be able to console others who are in their affliction. Christ suffered for us, and his suffering, death and resurrection is sufficient through his life lived, for all of us.

 

Let us pray for people who suffer, forgive our sins, and heal each of us. Bless us with steadfast lives, love and kindness. Bring healing and relief to those who suffer in any way.

Bless this balm that in anointing, your holy presence may be felt, witness, and experienced. Holy Spirit, fill this place and us as your people come to be anointed, healed, and forgiven.

Amen.

 

I invite you to come forward to be anointed, to leave your prayer card, and to kneel to pray if you desire.