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January 21, 2024

The Saying, ‘It’ll Be Okay’ Doesn’t Have To Be Trite.

Passage: Matthew 17:1-9

It can happen at any time, at any age, to anyone. Tragedy can strike anyone at any time.  Anyone can have their house broken into at any time. Anyone can lose their property due to bad weather at any time. Anyone can have a medical emergency at any time. Anyone can be assaulted, murdered, killed in a car accident at any time. Evil can strike all whether they are aged one or one hundred.

And if tragedy does strike, and it strikes you, what would you want to hear to help and comfort you? If an employee loses their job, a child hears that mommy or daddy is gone, if a mother has pregnancy complications, a father learns his teenage child is gone, a grandparent watches as their grandchild or child gives themselves to a sinful lifestyle, what would they want to comfort them?

Perhaps the last thing you would want to hear is, “it’ll be okay…everything will be okay…” You’re angry, sad, and confused. You want answers and all your friends and family can say is, “it’ll be okay!” But put yourselves in their shoes…have you never offered such trite advice as “it’ll be okay…?” How much there is in this sinful world that we have been blessed to never have gone through…but that lack of experience can show itself openly when our loved ones suffer and all we can offer is a generic, “it’ll be okay…”

And why is it that that sentence is so frustrating to hear when in time of need? Perhaps it can come off as the person speaking doesn’t really care about you? Perhaps it can imply that they don’t care about the situation or that the situation is trivial? Perhaps it shows you that the person talking to you really can’t help you? The Bottom line is this: to say that everything will be okay, you must have a solid basis for saying so. A lot of people want you to prove to them why it is that it will be okay, and for the non-Christian world, that is impossible. But for us Christians today, we will learn why when we say, “it’ll be okay,” we know what we’re talking about. As we observe our theme, we will see that the saying “it’ll be okay” doesn’t have to be annoyingly trite. For when Peter, James, and John fell on their faces out of fear before Almighty God’s voice out of the cloud, Jesus came and touched them saying, “Arise, and be not afraid.” Jesus says, “it’ll be okay.” Do you need more of a basis than that? If Jesus, the perfect Son of God who redeemed Moses and Elijah, has redeemed you as well, then what more of a basis do you need for the statement, “it’ll be okay” to mean something.

(we pray…)

So, it’ll be okay, doesn’t have to be a trite saying. Pointing people to their Savior and His loving arms will get them through even the toughest of challenges. But let’s first look at the triteness of the phrase when it is said without Jesus in mind. When tragedy strikes and strikes hard, and Jesus is not in view, the phrase, “it’ll be okay” is about as hollow as a rotten log. During these trials the mind is vexed with darkness and feelings of lostness, something that needs light; and if Jesus isn’t offered as the light bearing solution, then what is someone pointing them to when they can’t see when they say “it’ll be okay” and they have no basis for it? Some say “it’ll be okay” as a be all end all solution to problems only to have the problems build up and manifest themselves in horrific outbursts and despair later on. Others will say the phrase with a supposed basis that isn’t Jesus, such as “It’ll all be okay, just take a drink and you’ll feel better, take this pill, or…”we all know how that ends… Some even use false religion as their basis, “it’ll be okay if you make God happy with your works…it’ll be okay if you find zen…it’ll be okay if you work out your karma.” All of these supposed bases for the trite saying “it’ll be okay” are really just a mask, a distraction meant to keep you, the hurting person, from looking at the darkest, deepest effects of sin. When a man loses his job, a woman her child, a child their parents, or when a parents or grandparent’s hearts are broken by a sinful problem in their child or grandchild, telling them it'll be okay without Jesus as the basis is like spraying aerosol freshener on a dumpster. Don’t be so foolish to do this, for what they are going through is an experience where they drop all facades to simply see the frailty of human life. Through these crises we see that we are sinful and unclean and that we need a Savior.

Peter, James, and John, three disciples of Christ who also learned the frailty of their humanity, learned this lesson in a very peculiar way. After having heard for the first time that Jesus was turning to Jerusalem to die, and after arguing with Him about it and receiving rebuke, they ascended a mountain. And having reached the mountain peak, winded and tired in the middle of the night, they were absolutely startled. While Jesus was praying His face glowed like the sun and his garments became like light itself. They then saw two men, Moses and Elijah, who had been dead for centuries appear to Jesus to talk to Him…men whom Peter, James, and John, Jewish people, had grown up learning about and admiring. They didn’t know what to think, they were awestruck, they saw glory and holiness…Peter, offering a solution, “let’s build tents for you guys! Let’s make this last longer, you know, as an escape from our difficult lives!” But then something happened…something that would send shivers down the spine of every mortal…a booming voice from the cloud which cut off Peter’s half-baked thought: “This is my Beloved Son! Hear Him!” This was the same voice who spoke to Moses at the burning bush and sanctified the very ground on which they conversed, the same voice who tossed Elijah’s senses about with an earthquake, wind, and fire, and this voice was sheer holiness. And do you remember what those two Old Testament characters went through before God spoke to them? Moses had killed a man and had hidden himself for four decades. Elijah had run from a murderous queen, was desperately lonely to the point where he thought he was the only believer left, and wanted to kill himself. And Peter, James, and John? They had left everything in their lives behind to follow Jesus. You could say all these men had humbling experiences, experiences that would boil off all the excess dross of life’s distractions to reveal the biggest question of all: where do you stand with your God…Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John all had their distractions averted through tough times, and so do you. What do you think your trials in life are meant for? These trials are meant to boil everything off in your lives to expose you and your frailty to the One who can do something about it, the One who gives a new meaning to “it’ll be okay.”

And so, how is then that this trite phrase can be made the deepest comfort of all? Look at the disciples and learn how. They bent down in fear, face to the ground, thinking it was all over. Their lives were sinful, their holy God must be angry with them, how can they live with themselves...until they feel a gentle touch on the shoulder and hear the sweetest comfort, “Arise, be not afraid.” They see Jesus, their teacher and master no longer shining bright, telling them that it’ll all be okay. These disciples just went through the most impressive display of Jesus’ glory that had been given to this point in His life, for the greater were yet to come. And through this grand moment, all other distractions were set aside to teach them that Jesus makes it all okay…

And so let’s break it down for ourselves by looking at how this happened to all involved at this transfiguration miracle, starting with Moses. He was a murderer who also hurt with pain as he watched his people die, and when he was called to lead the children of Israel, He fell in fear while all other distractions went away leaving Him alone with His God. Moses was powerless, sinful, weak…until he hears the comfort that the God he’s talking to is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the living, not the dead, the God who takes care of everything, making everything okay, the God who would send Jesus to save Moses from his sin by living every commandment perfectly. Every statute that Moses took down from Mt. Sinai would be completed by the Savior Jesus. Jesus would then offer his own life to pay for Moses’ murder and provide an answer to Moses’ pains. And now look at Moses as he stands glorified by His Lord. It’ll be okay. How about Elijah? Elijah spent his days preaching fear to people who couldn’t care less about the Lord. Taking the torch from Moses and running, Elijah literally ran after king’s chariots to call them to repentance. He proved 450 pagan, cultic sorcerers wrong only to be threatened with death. Try telling Elijah it’ll be okay while he lived in his screwed-up world seemingly without justice. He wanted to kill himself, but God shook Him to his senses through the elements of the earth, exposing him to the deepest problem. And yet God comes to Elijah in the still small voice of the word to tell him that it’ll all be okay. He tells him that there are other believers out there. He tells Elijah that one is coming who will also raise a widow’s son to life, one who will pay for the sins of the world and pay for Elijah’s fiery chariot fare to Heaven. And what of Peter, James, and John? They had followed Jesus around for quite some time now. He had changed water into wine, He had calmed storms, He had cast out demons, He had healed diseases, He had known the thoughts and minds of people without them even speaking, and some how there still was coming a miracle more glorious. They see Jesus gloriously shining. As they stood there, they perhaps had forgotten about the distractions of life and saw that the one they abandoned their fishing boats to follow was something much more than a simple rabbi. He was someone who can say, “it’ll be okay” and have it mean something. On top of this, they saw also their ancestral heroes, Moses and Elijah—the Lawgiver and prophetic representative—in glory talking to Jesus about His mission to save the world. These two prophets, the called servants of the Lord who were sent by God to show everyone their need for repentance, were no frauds but were saved by the one who could do something about the human condition. Everything Moses and Elijah preached was practiced perfectly by Jesus. And finally, the disciples heard a voice, like Moses and Elijah both did in their time, and this voice gave the very basis for the saying, “it’ll be okay.” This voice, the voice of the Heavenly Father, said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” As if it weren’t clear already, God the Father proclaims clearly that His Son is the answer. Jesus Christ and His work of salvation on the cross is the answer to all of your problems. “Hear Him! Hear His word so that you may know that it will be okay!”

And so, whatever problems you and your loved ones are going through, whether it’s longstanding guilt like Moses, trying to understand fairness and justice like Elijah, trying to find the meaning of our simple lives like the disciples, and like all three grieving over our frailty and sin, I want to tell you and encourage you to tell all around you that it will be okay!!! My basis is Jesus Christ. He has taken away your sin, He is the Son of God who has saved you on that cross. And notice how Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone about this till He rose from the dead? Well, we’re talking about…so that means He rose from the dead. He proved through that everything has been made okay. Whatever you are going through, just know that you can Hear God’s beloved Son to comfort you. As you fall on the ground asking why, stricken with despair and guilt, know that Jesus says to you, “arise, and don’t be afraid.” Jesus says, “it’ll all be okay.” And He doesn’t say it tritely. He made it okay, paying for your sin. And He gives it more meaning by showing you a promise, a future of glory as He demonstrated through Moses and Elijah what we will be like because of Him. Jesus has made it all okay. Put aside your distractions, hear Him, see the Son of God in whom the Father is well pleased, and see the salvation of Elijah, Moses, Peter, James, John, and all of you. Please believe me, and more so believe Jesus when He says, “it’ll be okay.”