25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
I believe that it was in English class when we began to learn about cause and effect. The understanding that certain actions or events result in other actions or events. For example if you put bread, peanut butter, and jelly together you will get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you put lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables together you will get a salad. If you put wind, rain, and lightning together you will get a storm. If you put an parentless house, music, alcohol, and teenagers together you will have a party. That someone will call the police on. And then someone will be in trouble. Every cause has an effect just like every action has a consequence which is exactly what I’d like to talk about the rest of the month. Different cause and effect scenarios. And the first one that I would like to visit is this. There is no strength without struggle. In order to get stronger you have to struggle. That is why weight training makes people stronger. It is a struggle to lift weights. It is the tension between the weight and the ability of the muscle. The more a person struggles the stronger they get. That is why so many people do it. They understand that the struggle will make them stronger. Have you ever hear the story of the boy and the butterfly? There is a little boy that is walking in the forest and he sees a butterfly that is struggling to get out of its chrysalis. The boy felt sorry for the butterfly so he helped the butterfly get out of its chrysalis. The boy was expecting the butterfly to fly away, but it didn’t. The butterfly was having problems flying. What the boy did not know was that the struggle to get out of the chrysalis was a necessary process for the butterfly to through in order to strengthen its wings. The butterfly needed to go through this wing strengthening process in order to fly. And it is the same way in life. The problem is that most expel do not want to go through the process. Most people do not want to go through the struggle. But if you want to get stronger you have to go through the struggle. How many of you can testify to the fact that because of your struggles in life you have become stronger?
The cancer made you stronger.
The divorce made you stronger.
The bankruptcy made you stronger.
The rehab made you stronger.
The physical therapy made you stronger.
The break up made you stronger.
The layoff made you stronger.
The arrest made you stronger.
The drama made you stronger.
This pandemic made you stronger.
I think somebody in the room and on FB Live knows exactly what I am talking about. That’s the cause and effect I’m talking about, our struggle makes us stronger. There is no strength without struggle.
That is why we are talking about Sampson today. The epitome of human strength in the Bible. Let me share his story with you… I would like to argue today that Sampson’s true strength did not come from his hair, but it came from his faith. And in order for us to get stronger from our struggles. In order to see this cause and effect we must do the following three things.
1. We must belong.
2. We must behave.
3. We must believe.
Derek Redmond Finishes at the Olympics
It was the summer Olympics of 1992. It was the quarter finals of the 400 meter sprint. British athlete Derek Redmond was one of the favorites for the gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought him to this moment. The starters gun fired and the athletes burst out of the blocks.
Halfway through the race Derek Redmond was leading. Then disaster struck. His hamstring went out and he collapsed on the track. The agony on his tear streaked face was both physical and mental. It was a crushing blow.
Medical attendants ran to assist him. Derek waved them away. He came to race and he was going to finish. He got to his feet and started hobbling down the track.
The crowd was mesmerized. Officials didn’t know what to do. And then an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him. He ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him.
The man was Derek Redmond’s father, Jim.
“You don’t have to do this son” Jim said.
“Yes I do” Derek replied.
“Then we’ll finish this race together” came the response from Derek’s father.
Arm in arm, with agony on Derek’s face, tears on his father’s, Derek and Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder. His father’s strong shoulders carried his son physically and emotionally. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them.
Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, standing on their feet and applauding, Derek Redmond crossed the line. It became the defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.
I just want to know is there anybody in the room, on YouTube, free conference call, or FB Live that is excited about the fact that you can receive strength in your struggle because your Heavenly Father will come to you in the midst of your struggle?
He will meet you right where you are.
He will pick you up and turn you around.
He will take you and make something beautiful out of your life.
He will make the impossible possible.
He will make a way out of no way.
All because we belong, we behave, and we believe.
And if we are honest this morning, I mean really honest this morning there were many times in our lives that we were struggling and God showed up and showed out in spite of the fact that we were not behaving. And this act of God’s grace and mercy is what lead us to believe and therefore belong in the first place. That is why I am so glad that he may not come when we want him to, but he is always right on time. So do me a favor and put your hands together for an on time God.
Put your hands together for…
The creator of heaven and earth.
The bright and morning star.
The Lily of the Valley.
The Balm of Gilead.
The Refuge from the storm.
The true and living God.
The worthy lamb.
The worthy lamb that was slain.
The worthy lamb that was slain and rose again.
The way maker.
The mind regulator.
And here is another cause and effect scenario.
When the praises go up the blessings come down.
So go ahead and praise him.
I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart.
I will enter his courts with praise.
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice for he has made me glad.
Cause and effect.
There is no strength without struggle.
We must belong.
We must believe.
We must behave.