Hope and pray that you all are doing well and staying safe.
To say that these have been challenging times I think is an understatement. Not only are we in the middle of a major pandemic with a hyper-contagious and very dangerous virus, we’re being hit with an unusually high number of hurricanes, and our west coast is covered in flames with loss of life and communities, and the civil rights movement seems more challenged now than it has in decades as people of color fight for the right to not live in fear. And that’s just here in the United States. The rest of the world is fighting very similar challenges. In this type of environment, it is easy to grow impatient and to lose hope.
And yet, it is in times like these that we must remember that we serve a God who is bigger than any problem we, either as individuals or as a civilization, can or will ever face. God is there to help carry us and guide us through any challenge. As I have said before, this is not a guarantee that everything is going to go without any problems; on the contrary, it may, in some ways, bring greater challenges. Nevertheless, God is there with us. And here’s perhaps the biggest challenge in that, remembering that God is there and focusing on and listening to God. It reminds me of when Peter walked on water in Matthew 14: 28-30. As long as Peter kept his focus on Jesus and not on the storm around him, he was able to do the impossible, yet once he took his focus off of Jesus, he sank. And when Peter did sink, all he needed to do was ask for Jesus’ help and it was given. The Apostle Paul knew this and reminded us in many of his epistles, including in Philippians 4:6-7 where we read, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)
When asking one of our church sisters this week what she needed me to pray for, she asked that I pray for patience for her and everyone else dealing with the seemingly unending pandemic. She, without a doubt, pointed out something that is probably one of the greatest challenges that most of us are facing these days. We miss being able to hug and shake hands. We miss fellowshipping, we miss the potlucks, we miss the getting together without worrying about life and death risks. Again, we must be patient and trust in God. Yes, it is no fun sheltering in place, finding safe and new ways to fellowship, wearing a mask, washing your hands all the time, and sanitizing everything, but the more we do these things the better chances we have of making it through this together. It’s not all about us as individuals; instead, it is about all of God’s creation.
I am reminded of Queen Elizabeth’s speech to Great Britain at the beginning of the pandemic when she said, “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the [we] of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterize [human-kind]. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future…We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
Sisters and brothers, things may never be as they were before, but God remains constant and always there for us. Take heart in that and together, with God’s help, we will persevere.
Please stay safe and well. Blessings and Peace, Pastor Paul