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When Life Stinks

Mac McCarthy

Feb 4, 2024

Bottom Line

Learning to embrace life’s hardships can deepen our dependency and trust in God.

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Message Notes

The conviction that pain is bad and should be avoided is flat-out faulty.

When the superfluous is stripped away we find the essential and the essential is God.
— Eugene Peterson

The conviction that pleasure is good and should be maximized is foolish.

Reality Check: pain and suffering is unavoidable.

Exile = An Experience of Dislocation

Two causes of exile for Israel:

Unrepentant Sin — something within Israel’s control

It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.
Leviticus 25:25-28

Foreign Oppression — something outside of Israel’s control

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Jeremiah 29:4-14

Exile becomes a crucible of faith for Israel.

Bottom Line

Learning to embrace life’s hardships can deepen our dependency and trust in God.

Action Steps

PRAYER: Create some space to prayerfully reflect on the following:

  • What areas of my life feel like exile?
  • Is there any sin in my life that I need to acknowledge and own?
  • Who are the friends in my life that are willing to tell me the truth?
  • How do I typically respond when life takes my feet out from under me?

PRACTICE: Share with someone you love about a time when you experienced a difficult season that helped you to grow and deepen your faith in God.