1000 Natural Shocks that Flesh is Heir to
1000 Natural Shocks that Flesh is Heir to
I Thessalonians 5:18
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I thought of Shakespeare’s line, “The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” [taken from Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy] Presumably inspired by God, he was able to put it like that. We live in this world and are constantly receiving all kinds of shocks this way and that that take it out on our bodies, minds and emotions. We do live in the midst of a thousand natural shocks that we have inherited as human beings. What came home to me strongly is that it is the opposite of the way our Father wants us to enjoy our life here. It came home to me we bring on our own shocks upon ourselves and upon each other.
Also how we cause them for each other and how we lay strain upon each other so that the strain becomes everyday to us and almost becomes part of us. We don’t know why we are tensed or strained. We don’t know why we don’t sleep well at night. We don’t know why we feel uptight at times. But of course it’s because of all kinds of strains and stresses that we absorb and make part of ourselves. They are so inherent in us — so built in to us — that we can’t recognize them and we can’t separate ourselves from them. They are part of us. So we almost absorb a strain and stress. That’s why the fellow’s book was so good: ‘None of These Diseases’ [ by S. I. McMillen, M.D.].
It is very good because he would trace various circumstances that we pass through where somebody lays responsibility or some extra burden on us and it causes the veins and arteries in our body to tighten up and prevent the blood getting through the heart. He traced the effects that certain anxieties and worry have on our own body so that they actually restrict the flow of blood and create strain in the muscles which becomes part of our body. So that there would be times when I was lying down and think why am I strained. I suddenly become aware of a strain in my body that I never realized was there before. Now as the years go by they become so a part of us that we cannot separate them from us anymore. In a way, that is part of what brings about age, wrinkles, the pains and strains we have.
I saw again it is so opposite to what the Father has called us to. “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:28-29] I saw that is right. That’s what the Father has for us. That’s our blessed privilege to learn to be a hospital for each other; a rest place for each other. I thought of prayer time how easy it is to think we have a responsibility here to have a prayer time with life in it and we better pray. Of course God has called us to rest in him, relax in him and to seek quietly in his presence any of the ways in which we are not resting and relaxing in him.
That’s the heart of what I felt God wanted to say to us today. It’s in 1 Thessalonians — I have more to show you but we should start with this verse. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” That’s the center of our life — giving thanks in all circumstances. Why? For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. You mean give thanks because it is the will of God to do so. No! You might say the circumstances are the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Give thanks in all circumstances because these circumstances are exactly of course it brings you back again to the truth that God has reconciled the world to himself. That he has looked at your life; he has seen the end of your life. He has seen
the moment you, as they say, die. We know it as go to sleep. He has seen the whole of your life; from the moment you awakened at your mother’s side to the moment when you go to sleep at his side. He has seen the whole thing. He has seen where it varied from his will for you and how he would bring it back to his will for you.
Then he has planned the life. He has reconciled that life to his original plan for you. In the light of all the myriad of people that will do things to you; all the myriad mistakes you will make; all the wilful moves you will take to get yourself out of his arms, he has seen all of those and has reconciled them all [great computer that he is] to himself. He has it all planned. That’s why he says give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ for you. Give thanks in all circumstances was one of the marks of the saints. They took everything as from God. Everything was from God and they thanked him for it.
It seems to me therein lies the key to our life together. We lay strains on each other. Irene is right. I lay strains that don’t need to be laid on you. It’s good to remind each other of our responsibilities but only in the context of a joyful, restful, relaxed life. Really we lay strains on each other. We gentlemen don’t see the things you ladies see. There are things we lay on you ladies that we don’t believe we are laying on you at all. So there is a need for a peaceful, restful abiding before God in prayer for all of us.
I could do this for Greg but I will do it for myself. I think my girl often faces, in my enthusiastic way saying this is what we should do. We do it and it isn’t thoughtless and probably the right thing to do but what can she do but trail along with me. She goes quietly. So I know that. I think Greg knows it too. We think we have something that is vital; some work on the computer; something we have to do on the sermons and you think that obviously must be done. So whip off and do it but the girl is left with extra work to do that she normally doesn’t have. She does courageously as my girl does. You courageously rise to the thing because you love us dumb men. Nevertheless it lays strains on you ladies. I’m sure you do the same to us; we do the same to each other.
That’s part of the freedom that Jesus has to bring us into. A freedom where we have a sensitive tenderness towards each other. I would urge you ladies as I would urge the gentlemen, where the other person doesn’t see it, there is nothing to prevent you from saying, “Dear, I don’t know if you realize you are doing this to me but here’s what happens. I’m not complaining. I’m willing to do this to the end of my days. This is what happens when you go off to do your thing and leave me to finish off what you were doing. It’s an extra thing I have to do. You lay burdens. You don’t know you do.”
It comes naturally to you to do all the details of the sales reports. You do them often to please me. I am the one who comes up with the one report and then I forget and come up with another one or two. The report just keep getting bigger and bigger. So the girl is all preoccupied with them. We do it without thinking. You don’t mean to do it. I don’t mean to do it. We don’t mean to do it with each other. But we are gently laying burdens. Why I want to go to Thailand is, I’m sure Mary has no problems with this at all. But I thought it would be good for us to look at the possibilities and to be open to the fact that we may cause the ‘thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.’ We may be causing them to each other.
More than all of that, I thought back to the Philippians passage. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” [Philippians 4:4 ] God is saying to us, “I fixed the whole thing. I fixed it all. I have reconciled
the world to myself. I have reconciled all your mistakes to myself. Your life is laid out before you in my love for you. All you have to do is live it joyfully. Rejoice in me always. Always rejoice in me.
I was joking with some of you because my mother would say it that way — Rejoice! I’ll say it again — Rejoice! It’s a bit what Paul is saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I’ll say it again. Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. That Lord is right here. Be forbearing. Accept what is coming your way. He is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything. In everything with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, make your requests be made known to God. The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ. Whatever is honorable and just; whatever is pure, lovely and gracious think on these things. That’s what he has for us.
Now really we have to rest in him to see all that because you will have taken it all in and probably agreed with what I’ve said. Now allow his Spirit to give you light about the thousand natural shocks that you bring upon yourself or that we bring upon you. See that it is not a Biblical phrase — they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their youth like the eagle. [Isaiah 40:31a ] The eagle, you remember, plucks out their old claws and feathers so that the new ones will grow out. At about 40 years of age, he becomes a new eagle. You’ll renew your youth like the eagles; you’ll run and not be weary, you’ll walk and not be afraid. That’s what he has for us.
So let’s go for at least 107 years of age. Let’s begin to rest now and help each other to rest. Allow Jesus to bring that peace where we rejoice; we rejoice always. Have you noticed that it is a command? Let us pray.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of our heavenly Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us throughout this precious week. Amen.