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By: Jonathan Carmack

Gift Exchange- Give God your Hurt and He will give you Healing

One day, a father and his son Zac were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, when the man heard a voice from above him yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” The father turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at him. He had jumped and them yelled “Hey Dad!”
The man became an instant circus act, catching him and then they both fell to the ground. For a moment after the father caught him he could hardly talk. When he found his voice again he gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”
The boy responded with remarkable calmness. “Sure…because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because his dad could be trusted.
Last week we talked about how God wants you to give him your worry for his peace. That’s right, deal of a lifetime.. and this week is right there with it as we will be talking about giving God your hurts in exchange for his Healing.

As we all know, Sometimes you have “one of those days.”
Sometimes it starts with someone taking the last cinnamon roll (VeLora) or someone made a weird look at you when you ate a piece of candy that you didn’t need (VeLora) or maybe you didn’t know how to keep big your mouth shut and got in trouble with a spouse or family member ( Pastor Jonathan). Or maybe some of you are thinking bigger things, Maybe you lost control of your car and totaled it, maybe you got fired from your job or maybe Kentucky got beat by Louisville. I know what your thinking, none of those things happen very often but when they do it sure makes for one of those days.
But seriously… you’ve probably had some really bad days in your life. Things that have happened that makes the things I mentioned above seem like nothing. You may have had one this week. In scripture, we see that The Apostle Paul had some pretty bad days…

Here in 2 Corinthians he tells us about a few of them.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 NLT
23 I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish
leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at
sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

In our Family Night bible study we have talked about Paul quite a bit as we studied the timeline when he wrote these letters that we study and lean on in the New Testament.
Throughout you can’t help but wonder especially the things mentioned in this letter, How did Paul get through that kind of stuff? Or How did it get through that and still want to do anything especially build the church as he did.

Paul makes it pretty obvious in his letters, in fact, He wrote about it at the beginning of his second letter to the Corinthians in the passage I want us to look at today…

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NLT
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God  gives us.

You may be wondering why pastor are you teaching about Paul in the Christmas season and the truth is simple, because regardless of what season it is, we need comfort. In fact, I would say while Christmas is advertised as the most joyous time of year, it can also be one of the most troubling. It may trigger loss of loved ones, what ifs, and depression. That is why I believe it is important for us to not only focus on the greatest gift ever given in Jesus Christ but the wonderful gifts that comes in that relationship with him, today specifically comfort. Here Paul talks about the wonderful gift of Comfort that comes from the father in
troubled times. He said, He comforts us in all our troubles. Isn’t that wonderful, but again if were honest, there are many times and some of you who are there right now
who don’t feel to comforted.

For you and I, I have two challenges that will help you heal in times of pain. Two challenges that if we accept in our lives and trust our Father, He will take our hurts and
exchange them for God’s Healing.

  1. Give your problems to God. (When you give God your problems he will give you His Comfort)

In Pauls letter we see Paul speaks of God with a sort of title or nickname: he’s the “God of all comfort.” And he goes on to say God comforts us in all of our troubles.
– Its not a mater of if God will comfort us, it is a matter of if we will go to him for comfort.
-None of the problems you face are too small for God to care about.
– And none of them are too big for him to handle. He has all comfort, for all troubles. But in order for you to experience this wonderful gift, you must give him your problems. Therefore the first challenge I have for you today this Christmas season is to Give your problems to God.

The second Challenge really goes hand in hand with what all followers of Christ are call to do.

2. Give Comfort to others (When God gives you his comfort, you can give comfort to others.)

This gift isn’t meant for you alone, it is meant to be shared to the world. Think of it this way, When you give God your troubles in a season of need and he comforts you through that time in your life. During that experience, He is teaching you how to comfort others. Your comfort was found in Jesus Christ because as we learned during Thanksgiving week we can be thankful in all circumstances because of his Gift. Therefore, share that wonderful truth not just through your words but your life so that others can experience his comfort during the troubles they face.

The world needs to here of our father who we can trust and who is the great comforter, the one they can go and give their problems to. If they only knew there was more to life.

The late actor George Sanders was one of Hollywood’s leading men a generation ago. After a glamorous life, however, he felt there was nothing else to live for. Having no peace, Sanders took his life, leaving this note: “I committed suicide because I am boring and because I have
already lived long enough”

If only he knew of the comfort of the Father, if only someone would have shared that with him. God has all the comfort you would ever need, if you would just trust him with your problems and for those of us who do lean on him for his comfort, how can you keep that wonderful gift to your self. Share with others the comfort that he gives you.

As we close, I cant help but think of the gift exchange that the father offers us in his son Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about. But it also saddens me as I think of those like George Sanders and so many others who are searching for peace, and comfort and purpose yet completely miss it. They sing all the Christmas songs perhaps they go to church and listen to the Christmas story but never experience the gift that we are supposed to be celebrating.

Let me close with this:
“It’s very human to begin looking for something and then forget what you’re looking for.”
Tennessee Williams tells a story of someone who forgot; the story of Jacob Brodzky, a shy Russian Jew whose father owned a bookstore. The older Brodzky wanted his son to go to college.
The boy, on the other hand, desired nothing but to marry Lila, his childhood sweetheart; a French girl as effusive, vital, and ambitious as he was contemplative and retiring. A couple of months after young Brodzky went to college, his father fell ill and died. The son returned home, buried his father, and married his love. Then the couple moved into the apartment above the bookstore, and Brodzky took over its management.
The life of books fit him perfectly, but it cramped her. She wanted more adventure and she found it, she thought, when she met an agent who praised her beautiful singing voice and enticed her to tour Europe with a vaudeville company. Brodzky was devastated. At their parting, he reached into his pocket and handed her the key to the front door of the bookstore. You had better keep this, he told her, because you will want it some day. Your love is not
so much less than mine that you can get away from it. You will come back sometime, and I will be waiting. She kissed him and left.

To escape the pain he felt, Brodzky withdrew deep into his bookstore and took to reading as someone else might have taken to drink. He spoke little, did little, and could most times be found at the large desk near the rear of the shop, immersed in his books while he waited for his love to return. Nearly 15 years after they parted, at Christmastime, she did return. But when Brodzky rose from the reading desk that had been his place of escape for all that time, he did not take the love of his life for more than an ordinary customer. “Do you want a book?” he asked.
That he didn’t recognize her startled her. But she gained possession of herself and replied, I want a book, but Ive forgotten the name of it.
Then she told him a story of childhood sweethearts. A story of a newly married couple who lived in an apartment above a bookstore. A story of a young, ambitious wife who left to seek a career, who enjoyed great success but could never relinquish the key her husband gave her when they parted. She told him the story she thought would bring him to himself. But his face showed no recognition. Gradually she realized that he had lost touch with his heart’s desire,
that he no longer knew the purpose of his waiting and grieving, that now all he remembered was the waiting and grieving itself.

“You remember it; you must remember it, the story of Lila
and Jacob?”
After a long, bewildered pause, he said, “There is something familiar about the story, I think I have read it somewhere. It comes to me that it is something by Tolstoi.” Dropping the key, she fled the shop. And Brodzky returned to his desk, to his reading, unaware that the love he waited for had come and gone.

Tennessee Williams’s reminds me how easy it is to miss
love when it comes. Either something so distracts us or we have become blind to the love that is right in front of us. I believe that is how the enemy attacks us, he tries to derail us to other answers other than the one right in front of us.
Don’t miss out on God’s Love. Don’t miss out on the gift of his love in Jesus Christ. We can get so caught up in our hurt and finding other outlets for that pain other than the one who offers us healing and comfort is an afterthought. Instead of going to books, or people, or possessions to ease your pain, Go to the father, the great comforter, go to
the Good book, go to the Good Father, and trust him to comfort you.
He has commanded us to trust him with our problems, and he will provide comfort and guidance. All we have to do is put our faith and trust in Him.