Love that Gives - Radical

Love that Gives

Any loving parent knows how painful it would be to give up their child. We see this struggle play out in the story of Abraham laying his son Isaac on the altar. In this story, we not only see Abraham’s remarkable faith in God, but we also discover that this is a story of the gospel. In this message, David Platt reminds us that Genesis 22 points to God displaying his unconditional love for us in laying his Son on the cross. In him giving his Son as our substitute, we now can experience the joy of salvation in him.

  1. A Story about a Son
  2. A Story about a Substitute
  3. A Story about Salvation

Love That Gives

Genesis 22

Well good morning. If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, I want to invite you to open with me to Genesis 22. The very first book in the Bible. Genesis 22. Many of you know our story that climaxed last March by going to Kazakhstan to adopt our first son, Caleb. We got back at the end of March and began to adjust to life here. It was the culmination of a journey over years.

For years, Heather and I had wanted to have children and prayed that God would give us children, and God in His sovereignty had not given us children to that point. But now we had a son and he was adjusting and we were adjusting to him and life with him. And a couple of short weeks after we got back from Kazakhstan, I came home late one night from a meeting here and Heather was still up, which was unusual; she usually goes to bed pretty early. And we started talking and she said, “well, don’t you want to know why I’m up?” And I said, “Sure, why are you up?” And she said, “I think I’m pregnant.”

It was one of those moments where you just instantly become tired. I mean, you were tired already but you just kind of sit back and think, oh wow. And because of the journey we’d been on and wanting to have kids for a while and not knowing why we hadn’t been able to have kids, we were pretty tentative, a little nervous about the whole thing. So we said well, let’s kind of wait and kind of see how this plays out. We tried to keep ourselves from getting too excited. Many of you have been there; you know what that’s like.

So this pregnancy process began and fast-forward about nine months until this last Wednesday night. And I just happened to come home very late Wednesday night from a meeting here and Heather is still up. And she’s doing laundry, clothes, this and that. If you were to look by the dictionary definition of nesting you would find my wife’s picture over the last couple of months.

My precious wife has gotten everything ready. I told you that our Christmas tree was up way before Thanksgiving, all the presents are wrapped and around the tree. One day I came home and she was making lasagna – she makes great lasagna. I said, “Oh, we’re having lasagna tonight?” And she said, “No, we’re having it like December 21st.” And she was cooking all these meals so she could freeze them. And I was like great – what are we having tonight. Hot dogs. Well, can we have lasagna instead and have hot dogs on the 21st? So she’s been cooking, everything’s been getting ready.

So it wasn’t that unusual to see her up this late, but she said she wasn’t feeling very well. So we kind of sat down and talked, just hung out and watched a little bit of TV until about 1:00 in the morning. And I said, “Heather, you may be excited and ready to keep going, but I’m going to bed.” I’ve been sick this week and so I was sleeping down on the couch. So I went to sleep there on the couch and she went upstairs to go to sleep. And about two short hours later, 3:00 AM, I wake up and Heather’s coming down the stairs and she’s on the phone with a nurse at the hospital and kind of going through what she was feeling. She’s saying, “I don’t think this is it, but I don’t know for sure. How do I know for sure?” And finally the nurse said, “Why don’t you just come in and let us hook you up?”

So Heather wakes me up. She says, “Babe, I think this might be a false alarm but I’m supposed to go in anyway.” And I said, “Okay.” So we started that groggy walk around the house where we’re trying to get everything together and put it in the car and we drive over to St. Vincent’s. And by 4:00 in the morning, there is my wife getting hooked up to this monitor and I’m just kind of sitting over there in the corner half asleep. And for the next two hours we just sit there and wait and wait and then a little after 6:00, the nurse comes in and she starts hooking Heather up to an IV. And Heather says, “Why are you hooking me up to an IV?” And she said, “Well, because you’re going to stay today – you’re going to have a baby.”

And that was the moment where Heather immediately looked at me and I immediately looked at her, our eyes lock, and it’s one of those moments that you need to say absolutely nothing because a lot is being communicated right here; holy cow, we’re actually going to have this kid. And so we start the process.

And we were in this little triage room. The whole hospital was full, they didn’t have any rooms. Kind of gave a little bit of a Christmas feel to the whole picture to get there and them say sorry, there’s no room for you in the Inn – we can give you this place over here. And so okay. So first a doctor came in and gave her the epidural, which I decided it would be most appropriate for me to step out and not have to look at that particular needle. So I step out and then come back in, and then finally after they’ve gotten her situated, a room opened up. So we moved into a room and we settled in there for this whole labor process to take place.

And we’re sitting there talking. It’s me and Heather and then our nurse who’s with us. And we start talking about how, somehow it came up that Heather’s doctor, in the past, has occasionally let husbands, if they really wanted to, to help actually deliver the baby. Now, you’re got to realize at this point, who I am.

I walk into a hospital and get nauseous. I don’t like to see blood, I don’t like the smell of anything medical. I don’t do well. I get very lightheaded – it’s just not a good picture. And Heather knows that. And over the last few weeks it’s become abundantly clear that one of Heather’s biggest fears has been that I’m not going to make it through the labor process. And it’s almost been kind of a little bit of a shot at my pride, like she’s worried that I’m not going to be able to make it through this thing. Not anything about her or the baby, but more about me.

So I’ve been kind to struggling with this and they’re talking about how this doctor has let a couple of husbands in the past do this. And so all of a sudden, it was one of those moments where words start coming out and you just can’t stop them and you don’t know what you’re saying. But I just blurted out, “I’m going to help deliver this baby, then.”

Heather turns to me, wide-eyed; “You are?” The nurse says, “Do you really want to?” And again, one of those moments, “Yeah, I’d love to.” Like, what am I thinking? I’m not asking this doctor to do my job on Sunday, why am I offering to do his job on Thursday? But I was in at that point. Heather’s got a smile on her face, she says, “Well I’ll go ahead and start getting the gown and get everything ready so you can be a part of that.” And it was one of those moments where she starts running away, Heather looks at me with this smile on her face, and I’m just thinking what in the world have I just done? I can’t even look at blood and I’m about to deliver a baby.

And so I enter pre-game mode at this point. I’ve got to psyche myself up mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, across the board – I’ve got to be ready for what’s about to come. So how do you psyche yourself up for something like that? And here’s what I decide. I decide I’m going to look at this like a mission trip. When you go on a mission trip and you’re in another country, you do things that you wouldn’t normally do here; you eat things you wouldn’t normally eat, you drink things you wouldn’t normally drink, you participate in customs that you would not normally participate in. So I’m just going to look at this room as another country. And I’m in a foreign location right now, and when in Rome you do as the Romans do. So when in the hospital, you do what doctors do. I’m a doctor. Granted, my doctorate’s in preaching, but when you really get down to it, what’s the big difference, you know? And so I’m just psyching myself up; this is a mission trip, this is a mission trip.

So labor continues and Heather’s progressing and about 1:45 the whole pushing process starts and a little less than an hour later, the nurse says, “all right, it’s game time.” And she calls the doctor in. So I start pacing, stretching a little bit. The doctor comes in, he gets all suited up and he says, “all right David, come over here.” And I come over there and stand and he puts this gown on me and straps these gloves on me and he kind of gets in my face and he’s like all right, here’s what’s going to happen. He says I need you right by, right over my shoulder and when it’s time I’m going to turn to you and you put your hands down there and you pull and he starts describing what we’re going to do and he’s using a bunch of terms that I don’t know they mean. And I look at him in the end and I say, “all right, sounds good.”

And so he says, “All right, here we go.” And he rolls his little chair up there; I’m not going to go into all the details, don’t worry, don’t worry. I’m not going to a go into all the details. But he started doing a couple things that I just decided I didn’t need to be a part of. So I’m just kind of over his shoulder doing this to Heather; yeah, you’re doing great, doing great. And then he says, “All right, Dave, it’s time, it’s time.”

So he turns to me and he says all right, look in here. And all of a sudden as Heather pushes, this little head pops out and time stood still. There, for the first time, I was seeing the face of this son of mine. And granted, it wasn’t the most attractive picture I’ve ever seen – kind of a purplish face with a lot of stuff all over it – but it was the moment where I realized this is a reality, this is my son.

And back into reality, he says, “all right, put your hand on the top of his head and below his head. And it was like Peyton Manning. I was down – the doctor had just called the audible and I was in, I was ready. And we pulled a little down, and then up and this little dude just slides right out into my hands. I say little dude; he was 8.5 pounds. We thought about 6 pounds – the doctor had thought 6, maybe 7 but he comes out and we put him on mommy’s lap and I look at Heather and our eyes connect and then we look down at him and there is this baby, our son, laying right there and you’ve got this whole umbilical cord, which was the part I was really scared about; I was really nervous because Heather was disappointed if I was not going to cut it. But there’s something about an umbilical cord that just doesn’t seem like a big deal after you’ve just delivered a baby.

And so we do the whole umbilical cord thing and then go into the whole process of taking care of our son and nursing and this sort of thing. I want to show you a couple of pictures of Joshua David Platt. There he is. There’s our family of four, right there. His head’s full of dark hair – we don’t know where that came from, so that’s a little perplexing.

But needless to say when we came home yesterday from the hospital – and I’ll be honest, it’s been a long night. It’s been a long first night at home. But I couldn’t help but to think along the way of two verses. One was a verse, Psalm 113:9, that Heather and I had read together earlier that Thursday morning. And that verse says this, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord” (Ps. 113:9).

And the other verse is the verse that is our theme for this month, and it just so happens that this is the week that we would focus on the second phrase, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). I can say with complete confidence that those words have far deeper meaning now than they did four days ago. “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16).

Now here’s why I had you turn to Genesis 22. Because last week we saw the Old Testament background of this picture of the love of God and God’s relationship with his people in Hosea. When you read, “He gave His one and only Son,” a good Jew like a Nicodemus, sees immediately an allusion all the way back to the beginning of Scripture. You remember the scene?

Sarah was barren – Abraham’s wife. And that was a problem because Abraham had been promised that his descendants would be like the dust of the earth and they would spread out to the west and the east and the north and the south and all peoples would be blessed on the earth through his offspring. But Sarah was about 90 years old and Abraham was about 100 years old, and God had forgotten one small part of His promise – He needs to start with one.

And they had walked for years and years and years and years and years through the struggles. We had a few short years; Heather and I – and the stress and the up and down and hoping and the being disappointed. Imagine that for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years or more, longing for a child but unable to have one. And then God comes to honor them at 90 and 100 years old and says, “Within the next year, you’re going to have a child.” You can’t blame them both for laughing at that point.

At 90 and 100 they’re going to have a child? But God, within that next year, does provide and Sarah gives birth to Isaac, whose name means laughter. I don’t know if Abraham had the guts to help deliver his baby, but he had a son now, his pride and joy, the son of promise.

And that’s the stage that is set when you get to Genesis 22 and you hear two of the most startling verses in the Old Testament. Listen to this, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son , your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about’” (Gen. 22:1—2).

What is that about? The child of promise; the son that was promised; the son in whom the descendants of the people of Israel would come, and God says, “Take your son, it’s agonizing, your only son, whom you love, Isaac… Take him and sacrifice him on an altar.” This text brings us face-to-face with an astounding question; why would the loving God of the universe command the slaying of a son? This went against all thoughts of what was right and good, what would be expected; it goes against seemingly the law in the Old Testament. Why would a loving God command the slaying of a son? Any son, but especially the child of promise, this one only son of Abraham.

And this story, I’m guessing many of us are familiar with, is one that I think we have a tendency, a dangerous tendency, to miss the whole point at. Because we’ve read, many of us have read about Abraham being willing to offer his son, Isaac. And most of the time we study this text, we preach this text and we walk away from this text thinking about Abraham and the test Abraham went through and how Abraham had such great faith. And there’s no question that is illustrated throughout this chapter.

But I think if we put all the focus on Abraham we actually may run right past the primary point of this particular chapter of Scripture. If you were at How to Study the Bible Secret Church; you heard us talk about how when we read Old Testament stories, narratives, we need to understand every story in here on three different levels,. On the basic level, kind of a base level, there’s individual history going on here. There’s a personal story happening with Abraham and Isaac – individual history.

Then there’s a second level, and that second level we would call national history, which means this story plays into the history of the people of Israel in the Old Testament, and we need to understand every story we read in the Old Testament is a part of the history of the people of Israel, a national history.

But then there’s a third level. We called it redemptive history. And we need to realize that every individual story is not just a story about story of the people of Israel, it’s a story about God’s plan in all of creation to bring people back to himself. Redemptive history— redeem people; restore people.

And so we need to understand this story on three different levels. And in order to do that, we’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes; we always have to do this when we study the Bible; we’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who first heard this story, who originally read the story or heard it told to them. We’ve got to put ourselves in these shoes.

And so I want you to think about the Israelites, who were hearing this for the first time. The history of the people of Israel and they’re having it recounted to them, you’ve got this story about Abraham and Isaac. Now when they listened to this story, here’s the question we’ve got to ask. When they listened to this story, who do you think they identify with most? Who do they see themselves in? It’s kind of like whenever you read a story you see yourself in somebody. When you read David and Goliath, nobody sees themselves, I’m like Goliath. Nobody sees that. Everybody’s David, “I like David, I need to be like David.”

And so when you see this story, who do you see yourself in? I want you to think about that from the perspective of these original Israelites, who were hearing this. And while the obvious picture is of Abraham’s great faith that’s demonstrated all throughout his life, from Genesis 12 to Genesis 25 – his faith is put on display. But in this particular story, I can’t help but to think that the Israelites primarily identified not with Abraham, but with Isaac. And here’s why.

A Story about a Son

Because Isaac was the link between Abraham and them. If there is no Isaac, there is no Israel; if Isaac dies, then the history of the people of Israel is wiped out from the start. They saw in Isaac, and this question of life or death for Isaac, they saw that if Isaac lives we live, if Isaac dies, we die. You’ve got to see it from that standpoint. I believe on the first fundamental level this is a story about a son named Isaac. And I want to show it to you – we’re going to read.

We’ll start in verse 2 again, but I want you to do me a favor. Circle in your Bible every time you see the word son. And see if it’s emphasized over and over and over again. This is a story about a son. We’ll start in verse 2, “God said, ‘Take your son,’” there’s the first time, “your only son,” circle it there, “Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about. Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac” (Gen. 22:2—3). It doesn’t just say Isaac, “his son, Isaac.”

“When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together” (Gen. 22:3—6), and just imagine the scene,

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. ’ The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’ Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba (Gen. 22:7—19).

Do you see it? Over 10 times the son is emphasized. Those three times; I think its verse 2 and then 12 and 16 – he heightens it; the narrator heightens it and says, “Your son, your only son.” As if Abraham didn’t know that. As if Abraham didn’t already realize the gravity. But reading the story, it’s almost painstaking, and it slows to every detail.

When you get to verse nine, “They reached the place God had told him about. Abraham built an altar there, he arranged the wood on it, he bound his son, Isaac, he laid him on the altar on top of the wood, he reached out his hand and he took the knife to slay his son.” Why would God command the slaying of a son? And the answer is to show that He provides. You see, son is emphasized throughout this picture, and that phrase, “your son, your only son,” is emphasized three times. But another phrase is also emphasized three times – it matches it. Let me show it to you in verse eight, “Abraham answered,” and you might underline it here, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). There’s the first time. And then twice in verse 14, “Abraham called that place,” here it is, underline it, “The Lord will provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain,’” here it is, “of the Lord, it will be provided” (Gen. 22:14).

Don’t miss this. This is foundational at this level. God commands the slaying of a son, God commands the death of a son so that, Isaac and all the people of Israel who read this, will know that God provides for their life. God commands the death of a son to show that He provides for the life of His people. That is the point here. This is a story about a son and God’s great provision; “the Lord will provide” is the theme that dominates Genesis 22. It’s not even the focus on Abraham. The hero of this story is God. God provides. And Isaac does not die, he lives. He lives. Now how does he live? That leads us to the second level.

A Story about a Substitute

This is a story about a son, on a second level this is a story about a substitute. Did you catch it in verse 13? “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering”—here’s the key word in this verse—“instead of his son” (Gen. 22:13). Instead of; in the place of; on behalf of… Isaac was about to die laying on that altar, all of a sudden a ram is provided instead of Isaac. So the ram dies instead of Isaac and Isaac lives.

Now remember, reading this from the point of view of these Israelites who hear this. Isaac, they see their death or their life bound up in him and they see God provide so that Isaac might live, with a substitute. And then God comes to Abraham and speaks to him – the last part of this chapter, the words we just read – this is the 35th time God has spoken to Abraham, and it’s the last time that God speaks to Abraham that we have recorded; it’s the last time. And He reiterates the promise. He said, “I will provide for your descendants, I will provide for my purpose to be accomplished in you; I will provide. And I’ll provide through a substitute, through someone who takes the place of you, who is offered as a sacrifice instead of you.” God commanded Abraham to slay his son, to show his faithfulness, to save his son.

Now we’ve got a third level here. At no point from here on in Scripture will you see God again asking anyone to sacrifice a son like this. At no point will you see God commanding the slaying of a son like this. But as you walk though Scripture, you come to the verse that is our focal point for this month; and you come to John 3:16. And here’s where you and I are now brought into this picture.

As soon as it says ‘the world,’ we realize this is not just the people of Israel, we talked about this last week, this is all of us, all of us in human history. You and I are brought into the picture, and don’t miss it – now it’s not Isaac on the altar, it’s us on the altar. Every single one of us—every one of us guilty before a holy God of dreadful sin, every one of us. And it’s us lying on the altar. The wood is laid, the altar is set, and you and I are there under the just and strong fury of a holy God, who in His holiness and by the very nature that He is God, must punish sin, is dead set against sin. And the knife is not raised over Isaac anymore; the knife is raised over you and me. Deserving of the penalty of death, dying on that altar. And Jesus comes on the scene and He says, “For God so loved the world that He gave” what Abraham did not have to give. “He gave His one and only son.” And as the knife is raised over you and me, a voice from Heaven resounds, “Do not touch him, do not touch her. There is a Son who can be offered instead of him, instead of her.” And you and I are taken off that altar and Jesus, the one and only son of God – you hear it in John 3:16, your Son, your only Son, Jesus is put on that altar and now the knife is raised above Him. He is sacrificed. The Father pours out His strong and just fury and wrath upon His son.

Dave, what do you mean the Father does that? I thought the Father was kind of sitting back and watching this happen, weeping as it happened. We’ve seen the tear fall from the sky in “The Passion of the Christ.” Isn’t that what God was doing? Don’t miss it. If we miss this, we miss the whole point of the gospel.

God is not a casual observer standing by in this picture of the cross, this ultimate picture of sacrifice. It is God that is actually causing the sacrifice. Isaiah 53:10, “It was the Lord’s will to crush Him.” It was the Lord’s will to cause him to suffer. God was very active in what was going on, on the cross. It was His son becoming a substitute for the wrath and the punishment and the penalty that is due every single one of us.

A Story about Salvation

And as a result, this is not just a story about a son in Genesis 22; it’s not just a story about a substitute. On the deepest, highest level, this is a story about salvation. It’s about a God who takes you off of that altar, puts His only son on that altar and pours out His judgment of death on Him instead of you and me. God carries out the slaying of a Son in order to show his people that He provides for their life.

I’m guessing you have heard this story, at least many of you. It’s an illustration that I have heard many times. It goes something like this. There are a couple of different versions out there.

The story is told of a man who worked raising and lowering a draw bridge so that the boats on the river could go underneath the bridge and the trains could go over the bridge. One day, the man’s little boy asked to accompany him to work. The father allowed it. The day progressed as normal with the father raising the bridge for boats to go under it and then lowering it for the trains to travel safely over it.

At one point the man raised the bridge, and then upon seeing an approaching passenger train, he pulled the lever to lower the bridge so that the passenger train could go safely across. As the bridge began to lower, he heard a scream and saw to his horror that his son was caught in the huge cogwheel that lowered the bridge. He faced a dilemma. He could reverse the dilemma and save his son, which would cause the passengers on the train to plunge to their deaths in the river, or he could continue to pull the lever and watch the life be crushed out of his son.

He took just a moment to make his decision. The train sped swiftly and safely on its way and no one aboard was aware of the tiny broken body of the son below. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of a sobbing man still clinging tightly to the lever long after the train had passed. They didn’t see him walking home more slowly than he’d ever walked, to tell his wife how he had sacrificed their son.

This story is used as an illustration to talk about how God felt when sacrificing His Son. But I want to remind you, that this story, no matter how moving and inspirational it is, misses the fundamental point. It misses the fundamental point of the gospel. It misses the fact that God, the Father, did not sacrifice His Son because of an accident that He could not control. He did not make a spur-of-the-moment decision to save His people.

Instead, this God of eternal love in all eternity purposed to pour out the judgment that is due you and me upon His Son. He set His face toward that and it was no accident that He could not control. He was in complete control and He poured out His judgment on His Son. He slayed His Son so that you and I might have life. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever, whoever sees themselves on that altar, deserving the judgment of God, and looks at the side and sees the Son as a substitute and by His grace believes in His Son, rises from that altar and the Son is put on that altar instead of you. For all who believe in this truth will have eternal life in Heaven. There is no greater story about a son, a substitute and ultimate salvation than Genesis 22 and John 3:16. Put them together and we see a God who gave the most infinite, the most worthy treasure, His prized possession, His only Son, so that you and I might have life.

Will you bow your heads with me? As you bow your heads and close your eyes, I want to do two things in the next couple of moments. And I ask you to bow your heads and close your eyes just to focus completely. Number one, I want to invite anyone, every man, every woman, every boy, every girl who has never believed in Jesus and trusted in the love of God, who gave His Son, I want to invite you right now in the quietness to simply say in your heart, “God, I know that you have provided.” Just say that term, “I know that you have provided, and I trust in your love. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for me. I accept Him as my substitute and I trust that when I believe in you now, I will have eternal life.”

This is not just about religion, it is not about religious exercises, it is not just about spirituality. It is the reality of a Father’s great love that He gave His Son for you. And as you pray that prayer, I want you to know that God says, “Whoever trusts in Me can trust me to provide.” And He provides you the forgiveness of all your sins, with life abundant now as a son or a daughter of the Most High God and the guarantee of eternal life in Heaven.

The second way I want to invite us to pray during these moments is in light of this over arching theme, the Lord will provide. He gave His infinitely dear Son to show His great love for us. And I have shared the joy of adding someone to our family this week, but as I was praying through our time together this Christmas I was reminded of the number of people in this faith family who, as opposed to experiencing gain over the last year, have experienced loss.

And I know there are people who have lost people who are very close to you. I know there are people who have lost a lot of their health this last year, and a result find themselves hurting; maybe it’s physically, maybe it’s emotionally and spiritually. And I want us to always be a faith family that surrounds each other. And so in just a moment, I’m going to invite you, if you would be so willing, I’m going to invite you to stand where you are if you represent someone who is hurting because you’ve lost a mom or a dad, a husband or a wife – whoever that may be – there’s been loss in your life, from a person, or maybe you’ve lost some of your health this last year and you find yourself, whether it’s cancer or other sorts of illnesses, then I want to invite you to stand. What’s going to happen is after you’ve stood, we’re just going to surround you. We’re going to surround those who are standing, and we’re going to pray over each other. Because we have a God who promises to provide. He promises to provide in the middle of the darkest times in our life.

So if you would fall into one of those categories, I want to invite you to stand where you are right now. There are people that you’ve lost, health that’s been lost or anything else along those lines. Lost this last year that has caused hurt in your life. I want to invite you to stand. Please know this is a safe place to do that and nobody’s going to point you out and ask you to share exactly what the loss is in your life. We are going to surround and pray for each other.

Brook Hill’s faith family, you see these people standing. Let’s surround them, let’s get groups around all of these folks and for the next couple of minutes I just want to invite us to pray, to pray out loud. We don’t have to wait for one person to pray – God can hear all of our voices at the same time. Let’s pray together and after a couple of minutes, I will close us out.

Father, we come to you as sons and daughters, and we thank you for this privilege of approaching your throne as a son and as a daughter because of the sacrifice of your Son. And we trust Romans 8:32, that you do not withhold your one and only Son. How much more will you give us everything that we need. And so I pray for that on behalf of people, men and women, families, I pray that you would provide; I pray that you would provide the grace to sustain in suffering, I pray that you would provide hope that only comes from you, I pray that you would provide strength and sustenance for every emotion and every hurt, I pray that you would provide guidance for how to walk through the journeys that are represented here, I pray for healing in the middle of hurt, I pray for the pleasure that you give to supersede the pain that is represented, and God, I pray all of these things because I know, we know, that you are faithful. We know that you provide. And even when circumstances don’t seem to make sense, and when things you ask us to go through don’t seem to make sense, just like in Genesis 22, we trust that you will use these circumstances to show your great provision and that you will even use death to show your great Life. I praise you God, for taking the death of a Son and turning it into a life for your people.

All glory be to your name, you are worthy to be praised, you are worthy of all honor and all praise and all glory, all majesty, all power is yours. And we praise you for the substitute, who is Jesus Christ, the lamb who was put on the altar instead of us. We praise you for pouring out your wrath on Him instead of us, and we praise you God, that even Genesis 22 breaks down. Because when we get to John 3:16, we know the Son who was slain was resurrected from the grave.

And Lord Jesus, we praise you as the ascended and exalted Lord who makes death no longer something we have to fear, who makes disease no longer something we have to fear, and who makes all hurt and all pain temporary. We long for the day, Lord God, when there will be no more mourning and no more crying and no more pain. And you will wipe the tears from our eyes, as our Father. Until that day, we pray that you would give us grace; sustain us by your grace to walk in your love, to know your love even when it’s not easy, and to trust in your love, even when it makes no sense to the world around us. In Jesus’ name we pray these things. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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