Gladness in Sorrow | April 18-19, 2020
Series: Forget Not – Eric Geiger
Sermon Transcription – starts at 16:29
Welcome to my office. I know that some of you are already thinking, “Man, our Pastor is such a nerd. He’s got books hanging on the wall. He’s in the nerd herd.” I mean, and I own it. I have books hanging on the wall in my office. Some people mount animals. I mount books. I mean, that’s what I do.
And actually, these are not all my books. These are just the ones that have impacted me the most. My dad is an engineer, and he put this together for me. And you’ve heard me quote, you’ve heard me quote from some of these books. I mean, this is Bonhoeffer, Spurgeon, John Stott, C.S Lewis: Mere Christianity and then I’m going to mention this book here in a moment. This is Blaise Pascal in his famous pensées, which means his “thoughts”.
Blaise Pascal was this famous mathematician and philosopher, and he was well respected in society. He was influential and affluential. He had everything seemingly going for him, but he was empty inside. All the things he chased after, they didn’t satisfy him. They didn’t make him happy until one moment completely changed his life. And he actually wrote about the moment, and we know exactly when the moment was.
It was November 23rd, 1654 at 10:30, at night. And how do we know when this moment was? Because he had these words sewn inside, the inside of his jacket. This encounter that he had with God on November 23rd, 1654 impacted him so much that he marked that moment, so he would never forget it. And he wrote these words inside of his jacket. And after he died years later, people found these words written. And he wrote these words about the moment when everything changed for him. When he met Christ as his Savior, and he was filled with joy.
Last week, many of you watching, this was your moment. This was your Easter because you met Christ last week. We had 327 of you, last week, text “Believe”—that you received the grace and forgiveness of Jesus, and believe on Him. And our church has been praying for you. We sent a gift to you this week. We’re so excited for what the Lord’s doing in your life.
But this was Pascal’s moment. This is when he met the Lord and received forgiveness. And I love what he wrote, and it was inside of his jacket. He wrote this,
From about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob”, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. The world forgotten, everything except God. “O righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You” (John 17:25). Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
So he marked that moment, and wrote that and put inside of his jacket, so he would remember that no matter what he faced in coming days, that he could look back and forget not that he was filled with joy because of his relationship with Christ. I’ve always loved this quote, because it reminds me that the things of this world, when I chase after those things, they will leave me with sorrow. But the God of this world will satisfy me. The things of this world will leave me in sorrow. But the God of this world, he is the one who will ultimately satisfy me.
Now, that quote, it means a lot to me now, even in this midst of a global pandemic, and in moments where I have been sad. I have been sad, lately.
This has been a crazy last four or five weeks. And as a leader, the first several weeks of this crisis, I was filled with adrenaline—trying to solve problems, trying to figure out how we could serve you, how our church could serve our communities. And some of you, you’re this way too. You lead in different spheres of life and when a crisis hits, you’re filled up with some adrenaline to problem solve and make things happen. And that was me for the first couple of weeks, and then I hit a wall. And I was just sad. And I’m confessing with friends that I am sad.
I had a breakdown moment in this office sitting on this couch. I had all of our Shepherding Elders on this Zoom call, and I just lost it, and cried and cried. I could barely get through the call because I saw all their pictures on that Zoom call, and I missed them. I missed them so much.
And I miss you, I miss seeing you when I teach. I’m going to teach the scripture here in a moment. And I know you’re on the other side of that camera, and I know the Lord’s doing something. But I don’t get to see it. I don’t get to see your eyeballs light up when you get something new from the Scripture. I love that so much, I miss that. I miss seeing you on the patio. I miss it so much.
And then I’m sad for stories I’m hearing—stories of uncertainty and of job loss. Or scenarios that you had planned for this season in your life that don’t look at all like you have had planned. And I’m sad.
And so, this is not a moment when I enjoy being around the people who are, “everything is awesome”. You know those people, the guys who drop Christian clichés in moments like this, “How are you?” “Man, I’m great, man. I’m great. I’m too blessed to be stressed.”
This is not a moment to be the “too blessed to be stressed Christian cliché guy”. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And so please, don’t fill your social media feeds with these nice little quotes that separate us from the reality of the pain that we are in. We are in a painful situation, yet, we can be filled with gladness in the midst of sorrow.
So Blaise Pascal, he wrote these words, “Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy”. And the tears I have cried in the last several weeks, they haven’t been tears of joy. But I want to hold on. I want to hold on to the gladness that Jesus gives, that Jesus provides. And that’s what we’re going to see today.
We’re starting a series. And for the next six weeks, we’re going to be in this teaching series called “Forget Not”. It comes from a verse in the Psalms, Psalm 103. The scripture instructs us to forget not his benefits. Don’t forget. Don’t forget all the good things that God has for you. Don’t forget.
Blaise Pascal, he wrote the words inside of his jacket. And when tough times came, he could remember that he still was glad, that he still had joy, because the joy came not from the things of this world, and not the crises in this world could take what he had away from him, because his ultimate gladness and his ultimate joy was in the Lord. And that’s what I need.
I need to be reminded of the Psalm we’re going to study today. That times in the last several weeks when I felt sad, that yes, it’s appropriate to be sad. But I can still be glad because my hope is ultimately in the Lord. I can grieve, but I don’t grieve as those without hope because my hope is ultimately in Him.
So the Psalm we’re going to look at today is Psalm 16. If you have your bible, I invite you to turn there because we’re going to see this incredible psalm. It’s really a happy psalm. It is a psalm about where our joy and our gladness ultimately comes from. Psalm 16, here’s verse 1, “Protect me, God, for I take refuge in you. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord, I have nothing good besides you.””
I want you to notice in verse 1, there are two different words for the word Lord there. Just to emphasize this, we’re going to have it circled on the screen in front of you. The first LORD, all caps, do you notice that? Anytime you see in your bible, all caps with the LORD, that in the original language is the word “Yahweh”. And this is the proper name for God. He is the LORD—the self-existing One, the King above all Kings, the God above all “little g” gods. He is the LORD. The second Lord, notice in your Bible, it’s not all caps. And then in the original language this is the word “Adonai”, and it means master, boss, ruler.
And so here’s what David is saying … “You are the LORD, whether you’re my Lord or not. You are the LORD—the self-existing One, the King above all Kings. You are the Lord, whether you’re my master, ruler or not.” But this is why David’s going to be happy. This is why he’s going to be filled with gladness, because he’s saying to the Lord, “LORD, you’re my Lord. You’re my Lord.” And He is the LORD, whether he’s your Lord or not. He is the LORD, whether he’s my Lord or not. But David, at this point in his life, he’s learned the secret to his gladness, the secret to his joy is that he says to the LORD, “You’re not only the LORD, but you’re my Lord. You’re my Lord.”
Now verse 3 (Psalm 16:3), “As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them. The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.” And in these verses, David contrasts those who are glad and those who are filled with sorrow. David is saying, “The reason I’m filled with gladness is, I have nothing good that is besides you, God.”
Now here’s what he’s saying, “There are other good things in my life, but the other good things in my life, they aren’t equal to you. God, you are the ultimate good in my life. Yes, I have other blessings.” He even mentions noble people in the land. “I have great relationships. I have other blessings you’ve given me. But the good things you’ve given me, they aren’t beside you. They don’t compare to you. They don’t equal you. You are my ultimate good thing, God.”
And this is why David, in this moment, is filled with gladness because he finds his joy in the one thing that can never be taken away from him, and that is God. But he says that sorrows for those who take another “little g” god, they multiply. That people are filled with sadness, because they are finding their worth and their identity in something else.
Augustine wrote of this passage, and this is actually really encouraging. He says, “When our sorrows multiply, when we chase after something other than God, it’s actually God being really good to us because he’s showing us our pain, so that we’ll go to Him.” He’s pulling us to Himself as a doctor points out pain, so that we will realize we don’t want to chase after those other things. That ultimately, we want to go after the Lord.
When I lived in Miami, there was a good friend of mine who was a chiropractor. And I would go to him frequently to be adjusted. But sometimes I would get really busy, and I wouldn’t go as frequently, as he believed I should go, to be adjusted. And so, one time, I went to him. It had been a long time, and I was in pain. I had tweaked something playing basketball. And Mark was his name, and he sat me down, and he spent all of this time. It felt like forever talking to me about how pain was the signal that would lead to my healing, and that I needed to identify with the pain.
I’m thinking inside, “Mark, man, can you just lay me down and adjust me. I am in so much pain.” But he was using the pain to shepherd me towards a solution. And that’s what God is doing to us in this passage. When our sorrows multiply, it is actually God helping you recognize that when you chase after something other than Him, that thing won’t satisfy. And so, this is what David is saying, “I’m glad because ultimately the LORD is my Lord.”
Then in the next part of the Psalm, and we’re going to read this together, he’s going to give us three reasons why the Lord makes us glad even in the midst of sorrow. And I’ve shared, I’ve been sad at times in the last several weeks but even in the midst of sadness, I can be glad. Even in the midst of sorrow, I can hold on to my joy, joy, joy because ultimately, the LORD is my Lord.
And so three things we’ll see in this passage, we’re going to see that the Lord is your cup, number one. We’re going to see that the Lord is your Counselor, number two. And we’re going to see that the Lord is your Conqueror. I want you to press in and see this in the passage, and this is why you can have ultimate joy in the Lord.
- The Lord is your Cup.
Look at verse 5 and 6 (Psalm 16:5-6), David prays, “LORD, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” He says, the boundary lines for me are pleasant, are pleasant. And what is he meaning?
Well, in ancient Israel, there would be stones that would mark your boundary lines. Similarly, today would be like going on Zillow and looking at the plot of land that you own or seeing the square footage in your condo or your apartment, just understanding how much space that you have. And David is saying, “The boundary lines are pleasant for me. Everything is pleasant for me. They’re pleasant. The job I have is pleasant. My relationship status is pleasant. My portfolio, it’s fine. The plot of land that I have, it’s fine.” I mean, this is a big statement. He looks at life and says, “The boundary lines for me, they’re pleasant.” And how can you say that?
The only way, I want you to see this in the verse … The only way you can say, verse 6, the only way I can say verse 6, that life is pleasant, is if verse 5 is first true. If verse 5 is not true in your life, then verse 6 won’t be true. But if verse 5 is true in your life, then verse 6, the boundary lines are pleasant, will be true. Look again at verse 5, this is the only way we can look at life when things are crazy and say it’s pleasant. This is the only way.
Verse 5 (Psalm 16:5), “LORD, you are my portion and my cup of blessing. You hold my future.” David is saying, “The reason the boundary lines are pleasant is because I’m not looking for the boundary lines to satisfy me. I’m not looking for those blessings to quench me. I’m not looking for those other things to be my hope. Those things can be pleasant, because You’re my cup God. You have already given me joy. You have already quenched me. You have already satisfied me. And because You have, then everything else can be pleasant. You, Lord, are my cup of blessing.”
I thought about this, this week, and so this is my favorite coffee cup. I use it several times a week in the mornings. It’s a Mariners Church Huntington Beach coffee cup. I don’t know why the Irvine crew didn’t hook me up with one, but the HB crew did and I use it. I use it multiple times a week. And every time I use it, I think about people I love at our Huntington Beach congregation. People, who some of you know, I don’t know your names but I see your faces and sometimes your faces will come into my mind in the morning, and I’ll pray for you. And I think about our Shepherding Elders there … I think of Jeb, and of Dan, and of Tomas. I think about people on our staff there … Monique, and Tracey and Kyle, and I pray for you when I will have a HB sponsored coffee in the morning. And this is a cup.
David is saying this, he says, “God, you are my cup of blessing.” He’s not saying, “God, you give me my cup of blessing.” And I want you to understand there’s a huge difference there. It’s not just a nuance and language. He is not saying, “God, you give me cups of blessings” as if the blessings are outside of God, as if the things God gives us are better than God Himself. David says, “God, You’re the cup. You’re the cup of blessing. You’re my ultimate blessing.” Do you see the difference?
If you believe that God gives you cups of blessing or he gives you happiness outside of him, then we can actually start to love the things God gives us more than we love God Himself. We can start to long for the blessings of God more than we long for God Himself. And this is why David can say in verse 6, the boundary lines are pleasant for me because he says, “God, you’re my cup. You’re aware I am satisfied. You’re aware I have joy. God, You don’t give me joy. You are my joy.” God is not just a dispenser of happiness and a dispenser of joy. God Himself is joy.
C.S Lewis said it this way. He said, God can’t give us happiness… I just dropped the cup in the middle of my sermon, hold on a second… CS Lewis said,
“God can’t give us happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”
Ultimate joy and ultimate happiness comes from the Lord. Number one, He is our cup. Is He your cup? Is He your cup?
Have you said to the LORD, “You’re my Lord? You’re my Lord.”? It’s one thing to understand that he is Lord, but not really view him as your cup, as your Lord. But happiness for you, joy in the midst of sorrow, gladness in the midst of grief, is going to come when you believe that the LORD is your cup of blessing. Number one, He is our cup.
- He is our Counselor.
The Lord is our counselor. Look at the next verses, verses 7 and 8 (Psalm 16:7-8), “I will bless the LORD who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I always let the LORD guide me because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
David is not the “everything is awesome guy”. He’s not the “too blessed to be stressed guy”. He’s not trite. He’s not trivial. He is being honest right here that, at night, he has thoughts that trouble him. And for those of us who wrestle with thoughts, it’s a nighttime, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that when you are flooded with emotion? Isn’t that when you are overwhelmed with uncertainty? Moments for me are at night. And David, too. A man after God’s own heart, struggled. And yet he says, “God, you are my counselor, and I won’t be shaken. I won’t be shaken.”
I’m so grateful for the counselors that we have in our lives and in our church. And when you go to a therapist or a counselor, you leave the session and it feels like a whole weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You have a new perspective. Someone’s helped you see things differently, but you still leave the office. You leave wherever it is that you meet with the counselor or the therapist. This is really good news because David is saying, “The Lord is my counselor. He’s always by my side. I will not be shaken because He never leaves me. And so I can be filled with joy, and I can be filled with gladness because I have a 24/7 counselor. The Lord Himself is right next to me, and He’s never going to leave my side, therefore I won’t be shaken.”
Number one, this is why you can be filled with gladness in this season. The Lord is your cup. The Lord is your counselor, he’s always with you. And then I want you to see this.
- The Lord is the Conqueror.
I really want you to press into this passage. This is so crazy beautiful right here. I want you to see this, because this is the Psalms. And if you’re new to the Scripture, the Psalms are in the Old Testament, which means this was written before Jesus came. And I’m about to read to you some verses that are a prophecy about Jesus, before Jesus came.
In fact, these verses are so incredible that in the New Testament, authors and prophets spoke these very words. The Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul, both, use these words and sermons that they gave. And this is going to be this prophecy about Jesus, and I’m giving it away even before I share it to you. But it’s incredible, and I want you to see this. We’re going to see that Jesus is the one who conquers.
Verse 9 (Psalm 16:9), “Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” You will not allow your faithful one to see decay.
David writes this. And I believe as he’s writing this, he doesn’t even realize the magnitude of what he’s writing. The Lord is carrying his hand as he writes it, and he says, “God, you won’t let your faithful one see decay.”
Who is David writing about there? I mean, surely, he’s not writing about himself because after David died, his body did see decay. In the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul took this very passage, and I’m going to paraphrase, but to a large group of people one day, both of them, in two separate occasions got up and said, “Hey, remember that passage you used to study, and your grandparents told you about, and your parents told you about, and you’re passing down from generation to generation? That famous passage in Psalm 16 when David says the faithful one won’t see decay?”
David wasn’t speaking about himself because we can show you where David’s body is buried, and his body has seen decay. But guess whose body hasn’t seen decay? Jesus Christ, the ultimate faithful one. Because David wasn’t fully faithful, and none of us have been fully faithful. But there is one who is fully faithful. Jesus Christ, the righteous One and His body never saw decay. And so, this is why David is saying he is filled with joy because he knows there is victory. He may not even understand what he’s writing down, but he knows that there is a conqueror. And Jesus Christ is our ultimate conqueror.
In a season like this when things are crazy, we long for victories. We long to attach ourselves to stories of victory. When September 11, 2001 happened, people longed for sports to come back. I remember watching the World Series Game 3 of the Yankees, President Bush comes out and throws out the opening pitch and everybody goes crazy. Mayor Giuliani is behind home plate during that World Series, and it was a symbol for our country. And people were gathering together and celebrating, and they were attaching themselves to victories.
In this season, it’s troubling because we don’t have sports. We can’t attach ourselves to victories, and so people are watching old victories on television. People are watching Kobe’s 81-point game, and they’re watching former World Series and former NFL Super Bowls, trying to find some hope but trying to attach themselves to victory.
This weekend, “The Last Dance”, the documentary series about the Chicago Bulls is coming on TV this weekend. It got pushed up to give us something to watch where there’s victory. And all of those victories are great, and I’ve enjoyed watching them but they’re nothing compared to the ultimate victory that Psalm 16 is talking about; that the faithful One of God, Jesus did not see decay.
He did not see decay because after He put Himself on the cross, in our place, for our sin, and He was buried, on the third day, He rose again. And this is why we can ultimately have joy. He’s our cup. He’s where we find blessing. He’s our counselor who never leaves us. But He’s also the conqueror because He rose from the grave, we can have everlasting life. Because He conquered death, we can have eternal life. Because He conquered the grave, we have hope and joy. He promised that He would overcome the grave. There was a prophecy written hundreds of years before He came that He would overcome the grave, and He delivered on His promise.
Other people have promised that they could, perhaps, overcome death. That they could, perhaps, speak from the other side. And others have failed to deliver on the promise. But Jesus kept His promise. And because He keeps His promise, He can be your cup. He can be your counselor. And He is the conqueror.
Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist. He made a promise about coming back from the other side, and he failed to deliver. Here is his story:
Harry Houdini is still considered to be the world’s greatest escape artist. When you’re watching basketball, and hopefully that will happen again, and you see a player make this incredible move, you may hear the announcer say, “That’s a move like Houdini! He can escape anything!” And Houdini was renowned for that, because he began escaping straight jackets and handcuffs and ropes and chains. But as he grew in popularity, Houdini graduated in his escape artistry to coffins buried in water. He believed that he could escape anything.
When he was 52 years old, his appendix ruptured and he knew that he was about to die. And as Houdini was on his deathbed, he made this harrowing promise to his wife, Bess. He said, “I believe I will be able to communicate to you from the other side. I’ve been able to conquer straight jackets and chains, and perhaps, I can conquer death. Perhaps, I can communicate to you from the other side of the grave.”
And so, after he passed away, which was Halloween day, 1926. Every single year, his wife would hold a séance where she would long for him to communicate to her from the other side. And every single year she would wait, and there was nothing but silence.
On the 10-year anniversary of his death, there was this one final séance. It was actually broadcast from Hollywood on radios all across the country. And the host of the broadcast, he starts saying in the broadcast speaking to Houdini, “Houdini, can you hear me?”
“Houdini, are you here? Are you here, Houdini? Please manifest yourself in any way possible.”
And there was nothing. Finally, the host looked to Houdini’s wife and she said, and these words are painful to hear, she said, “All my hope is gone. Houdini did not come back.”
Jesus, like Houdini declared to his followers that He would conquer the grave. Jesus, like Houdini, left hope in His followers that Jesus could overcome death. But unlike Houdini, there would not be 10 years of silence, and 10 years of waiting, and 10 years of hopelessness. Because on the third day after being crucified on the cross for our sin, Jesus conquered the grave and he walked out of the tomb and He is our risen Savior, and He is alive. And because He is the Conqueror, He can deliver hope to us. He is our cup, who satisfies us. He’s our counselor, who’s always with us. And He is our conquerer, who overcomes all things on our behalf.
Jesus, You are who we need, You are what we long for.
Thank you for joining us today. Do you remember the story Eric told at the beginning of his message about Pascal, and how he did not want to forget the truths that he knew about God, and so he had him sewed inside of his jacket? Well, we don’t want you to forget them either. So we have a special card if you visit our website, our “Forget Not” page, where you can download that card and you can keep these truths with you. They can be with you throughout the day.
I want to thank you. I want to thank you for your generosity. The way that you have loved our church generously has allowed us to serve and love our cities and Orange County. Thank you. If you haven’t moved your giving online yet, we encourage you to do so.
And before you leave, I want to bless you. So, whether you’re watching on a couch with others or whether you’re by yourself, maybe even watching on a phone, just extend your arms for a moment and receive a blessing from God.
May the Lord bless you, and keep you. May He make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. And may He turn his countenance towards you, and give you peace.