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Lessons from the ER

• Greg Boyd

Greg shares physical challenges he’s experienced lately and how during a visit to the emergency room, he began to understand the meaning of sharing in Christ’s suffering. He uses this experience to show how God meets us in our sufferings and uses them to bring about the transformation of knowing Christ.

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Greg Boyd opens his sermon this week by sharing about the physical issues that he and Shelley have faced over the last few weeks. He uses his experience to help us understand the New Testament teaching about suffering and how we can find joy and peace in the midst of the challenges we face.

Last week, while Greg was sitting in the emergency room waiting for about ten hours while fighting a fever and massive pain, he experienced extreme thirst but was not allowed to drink anything while waiting for the doctor. It was during this time that Greg sensed God saying “Greg, it’s time to learn.”  This was not about ascertaining new head information, but to learn from his pain. Greg was reminded of Romans 8:28, which reads: “We know that in everything God works for the good with those who love him, who are called according to his purposes”.

In everything—every circumstance, however painful and challenging—God wants to work with us for our good. While God doesn’t cause those suffering circumstances, God works in them, bringing good out of evil. As Greg lay suffering in pain, he felt the Spirit saying to surrender his suffering over to God, and God would use it to grow him.

After about two hours of praying in this condition, feeling like he might die of thirst, Greg had a vision of Jesus on the cross. Covered in blood with his face was badly beaten, Jesus said to Greg, “I thirst.”  Jesus hadn’t been given anything to drink since his arrest, and he had just spent the day under the hot Palestinian sun, getting whipped, mocked, and beaten. By the time Jesus was crucified, he probably hadn’t been given anything to drink for 12-13 hours.

It’s one thing to know in your head that Jesus was thirsty. It’s a totally different thing when you know Jesus’ thirst. This is what Paul calls sharing in Christ’s suffering. Paul wrote:

For [Christ’s] sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and….that I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. — Philippians 3:7-8, 10

Paul longed to know Christ well enough to “share his sufferings” in order to become like him in his death and then be resurrected into God’s eternal kingdom. When Greg got his mind off his circumstances and surrendered to God, he put himself in a position to understand what it means to share in Christ’s thirst.

Greg shared in Christ’s sufferings and Christ in his. But there is one big difference. Greg did not choose this pain, his experience of thirsting. Jesus did choose his, and he chose it for all of us. Greg realized that Jesus chose this kind of intense suffering out of love, and God uses all of the miserable experiences to make us a better fit for the coming kingdom, which is the greatest good there could be.

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Topics: Pain & Suffering, Transformation

Sermon Series: The Center of Hope

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The MuseCast: August 8

Focus Scripture:

  • James 1:3-4

    My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

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4 thoughts on “Lessons from the ER

  1. Janet says:

    Thanks for the message Greg. I love forward to hearing more on this.
    After years of watching a loved one’s slow motion descent into the hellish abyss of addiction and ultimately death, I find it really hard to see my way to joy.
    A beautiful life that had so much potential, snuffed out way too soon. There are moments of joy, but they resemble islands in a sea of pain. Perhaps with time I will stop asking myself what I could have said or done to bring a different outcome.
    Maybe I will stop being angry at a system of “laws” that prevents action to help those trapped in addiction.
    I know I need to let it all go and trust that it will somehow make sense in the light of eternity. It just hurts too much right now.

    1. Peter says:

      Previous epidemiological studies have shown that vegetarians had lower bone mineral density (BMD) than non-vegetarians

      1. Jerry says:

        Peter: epidemiological studies may have some bearing but science has also proven, [the immune system], Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

        Another possibility:

        2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Therefore, in order [purpose] to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given [Greek gift from God] a thorn [constant irritating problem] in my flesh, a [messenger of Satan what might be thought demon possession], to torment [not curse, punish but Greek beat-up] me.

        Painful-humiliating-debilitating so Paul prayed three [seasons of life] times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

        Some folks today say the reason you’re not getting an answer to your adversity is because you don’t have enough faith. These same folk driving in a parking lot not finding a spot will pray “Oh God find me a spot” and when someone finally pulls out they will say “Thank you Jesus”.
        “Oh dear God I’ve lost my keys – what am I going to do? – please help me.” When their spouse comes home and opens the front door they hear a jingle and shout ‘Oh thank you Jesus”. These folks tend to use examples like the saying “When I have a problem I just pray about it’.

        These examples are not huge adversities and have a somewhat natural answer. Paul had more faith than all of us. Simply trying to faith God into something WE are trying to DO is bad theology.

        Two times Paul heard nothing but, the third time, he said to me, [NO –Permanent- with a promise] “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s power reaches its full measure potential and is perfected when folks are the weakest. Paul, I haven’t forgotten you are still in the center of my will. Down the road, folks are going to name their children after you but their dogs Nero.

        Therefore I will boast [roll around in it, get it all over – define me] all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

        Embracing your inability is a prerequisite to experiencing Christ’s ability.

        When we bump up against an unchangeable circumstance, embracement, or disability that costs us not to be whatever it is we wanted to be, if just praying about it has no result, our tendency is to hide, pretend and lie.

        That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. But that’s NOT the American WAY and Paul would answer that’s why you are NOT experiencing the grace of God because Jesus WAY is the only way.

        If you believe God can change your circumstances and you prayed and prayed, but God has chosen not to act on your request behalf, you have the option [to change your attitude, perspective] to receive whatever it is you’re dealing with as a gift with a purpose [yet to be made known] and a promise that my grace is sufficient for you if you are going to have peace.

        Luke 22:41-42 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing [I know you are able – have the power to], take this cup [a gift with a purpose to impact every person ever born] from me; yet [if you chose to say no] not my will, but yours be done.” We have permission to ask that our cups be taken, thorns removed but the not-so-great news is sometimes God just says NO.

        Everyone is grateful that God said NO in the garden. When you choose to change your perspective you somehow enter into the suffering of Christ learning that sustaining grace is the [slow steady pace] way forward with a purpose [yet to be revealed] and a promise that my grace is sufficient for you, my power will be made great in your weakness as an option, invitation to see what otherwise is a bad thing as an opportunity,

        When I started pumping iron in 68 Bill Pearl was king. Pearl found himself much happier and healthier eating a vegetarian diet, emerging victorious in the 1971 Mr. Universe contest against fellow Bodybuilding legends Reg Park, Frank Zane, and Sergio Oliva.

        Bill said “When I changed my diet over, I had less and less joint problems. All the poisons found in your system, such as uric acid, are going to be stored in the joints of the body if they can’t be expelled through the kidneys or liver. I think you’ll have less and less joint problems the longer you are off red meats, especially gland meats.”

        In 1993 I worked his Bill making a Windows-based computer app out of his book “Getting Stronger”. He was 63 at that time and here is a link to an image of him at that time.


        If you read his comments you will see he is on the same page as Greg concerning hormones they feed chickens to make them grow faster.

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