Life is Tough. Right.

I took my family to the Happiest Place on Earth. Disneyland claims to be the happiest place on earth. We were all excited to enjoy our experience of happiness. As we started to go under the big sign at the entrance that said “Happiest Place on Earth” a scene caught our attention under the sign. There was a parent disciplining their child and the child was standing there sobbing. I guess this individual would question the message of the sign. 

Every one of us has a story to tell of heartache and loss in our lives. As a pastor, I have heard too many and have had enough of my own. It is in times like these that we wonder where is God? Doesn’t he care? I want to tell you a story about two men who felt like all their hopes and dreams had been destroyed. Their story is found in Luke 24.

These two disciples of Jesus witnessed the death of Jesus on the cross. They watched as he was buried. Realized that their hopes and dreams had been buried with him. Spending the Sabbath with others who had the same hopes didn’t help much so they decided that they would go home the next day. It was a 7-mile walk to Emmaus where they lived.

As they began their journey they left with heavy hearts and in their grief, they did not notice that someone was walking with them until he spoke. “What kind of conversation is this that you are having with each other as you walk along so sad?”

Then one of the disciples named Cleopas answered, “Where have you been these last couple of days? Haven’t you heard about the things that happened in Jerusalem?”

“What things?” questioned the stranger.

Then these two disciples shared their disappointing and sad story finishing with, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel and this is the third day since it all happened.” They added that some of the women who went to the tomb said that an angel told them that Jesus had risen but nobody had seen him. These two men were walking in the shadow of the cross, hopeless and faithless. But this stranger they walked with was about to change all that.

It is true with us that often we cannot see because of our grief and pain. Our tears blind us to the hope that is so close. The stranger now gives them a Bible study. He tells them that all these events were supposed to happen, it was foretold in the Bible.

Jesus said that as long as we live in this world we can expect pain, sorrow, and death. So why is it when bad things happen to us we act surprised and ask God Why? We often say as these two men did, “We had hoped that He was the one to save us.” But as Jesus began to share with them their hearts began to be lifted up from their despair. Hope began to grow. As they reached their home the sun was setting and they invited this stranger to stay the night with them. He accepted their invitation. When they sat to eat their evening meal the stranger lifted his hands and blessed the food. Cleopas and his friend’s eyes were opened and they recognized whom they had been walking with! It was the one whom they had hoped would save them! It was Jesus! He was alive!

Jesus then disappeared. They looked at each other and said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He opened the Bible to us?”

Jesus never forces his way into our lives. He waits for an invitation. When we invite him into our lives our hearts will find real joy and happiness because we know that He lives.

He will bring hope back into our hearts and we will recognize that even though we will have heartache and pain in this world it is only temporary. Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled…I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again to receive you unto myself. So that you maybe with me where I am.” John 14:1-3

Cleopas and his friend could not keep it to themselves they had to tell their friends who had lost their hope as well. They raced back those 7 miles to Jerusalem. The trip back was a lot easier, even though it was dark and rough, because of their newfound faith.

Our journey in life can be easier even if it is dark and painful because we know Jesus lives and He promised to come and rescue us. So, there is hope in the thought it is only temporary and we never walk alone. Whenever we experience the pain of this world we should remember that this is not what God wanted for us and that we are not home yet. 

I know that in my life I would not have been able to cope with the sorrow and loss in this journey without Jesus walking with me. Jesus desires to walk with you. Will you not invite him to walk with you? He can make your journey a lot easier. Walking with Jesus is the Happiest Place on Earth!

In His Peace,

Pastor Merrill