Senior Sermon: Nora Zelazny

April 16, 2023

I wanted to talk today quickly about suffering. I promise this is going somewhere so bear with me. Life is chock full of suffering and unexplainable things. There is no doubt a scale of suffering but still every human experiences some form of it. Many times there’s no reason behind it. It can be so incomprehensible that it leaves many asking the question why? Why me? Why them? I know in my life when horrible things happen to me, or people close to me, that just have no explanation. Sometimes it leaves me asking specifically “Why God? Why let such a horrific thing happen to such a good person?”

It can be a tough concept to grapple with but after all suffering is fundamental to the human experience. The only thing that matters is how we as individuals respond to it. How can we find meaning in suffering? I read the book A Man’s Search for Meaning by philosopher Viktor Frankl recently which is sort of what inspired this. He writes about the idea that every single thing can be taken from a man except one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance, to choose one’s own way.

He goes on to talk about finding your “why” to help you triumph over suffering. For many that “why” is God. We give thanks to him and pray to him because we know that no matter what comes our way, even situations that may leave us so distressed we curse him for it, he has a plan.

It is written in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We all have the choice of how to respond to horrible things. Instead of cursing him and life, you have the choice to instead trust in him. Let him fill you with hope and let him guide you. Because of this, I’ve started to live by “We can take meaning from everything,” instead of “there’s a reason for everything.” Because rarely is there a reason. This is a lesson Kenilworth Union has taught me.

In my own life when my own close friend and member of our church family was hit by the unexplainable and the horrific, I was confused, heartbroken, and I think a little lost in how I would respond to something that was so beyond out of my control. But church provided me with a meaning, a way to find light in tragedy. That what makes the people here at Kenilworth Union so incredibly special.

Their ability to use their faith to find the good and aid all of those going through unexplainable sufferings of all scales, is awe-inspiring. Not only that but their love and dedication to all no matter their faith, no matter their circumstances. The people here have given me tools and companions to guide me through such events as they seek to do for many. I have never met a group of people more equipped for the task. They wear their faith like a badge of honor, teaching service and helping your neighbor, while giving others a meaning and a purpose beyond themselves. That’s what they have done for me.

The environment created here isn’t something you can replicate. The minute I walk in those extremely heavy doors I feel hope, I feel love, and most importantly I feel inspired to answer God’s call to go aid those who have been hit with hardships. That purpose, that meaning, is something I will carry with me going forward in life and cherish. And for that I’m forever grateful to those that have given me it.

Thank you all for listening.

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