Who ever thought we would be living in times like these? So much uncertainty, fear, anxiety and worry. As I think about all my loved ones who are at greater risk and read the reports of even the young and healthy who have been killed by this virus, the waves of fear wash over me. If the worst things happen, will I be able to cope? How badly I want to avoid suffering and want protection for all those for whom I care and love.
Many Christians wrongly believe with a magical kind of thinking that God should protect them from all bad things. It’s the same kind of thinking that accuses God of not being real or truly loving as long as bad things happen, especially when bad things happen to the weak and powerless. The truth, however, is that in a world where free choice is possible and where the rain falls on the just and unjust, bad things will happen. As Jesus told us in John 16, “In this world, you will have trouble.”
Trouble, tribulations, trials…
But here is where we meet the real message of Jesus, “I have overcome the world.”
It is here that we find the true message of Easter. It would be so much easier if the total package of this message meant that the overcoming of Jesus happened without persecution, pain, suffering and death. But, the way of Jesus, the totality of the message he has modeled for us, the path of transformation he has blazed for us… Is that absolutely no evil, no hardship, no failure, no suffering, no pain and no death can separate us from the love and power available to us if we follow Jesus through the path of suffering and death. That transformational path leads us to the resurrection. That transformational path means that any pain, any failure, any loss, any suffering can, in God’s great love, be redeemed in and for us for something good.
I remind myself of this every time fear washes over me, every time my anxiety about losing anyone I love threatens to overwhelm me, anytime I feel as though I don’t possibly have the resources to survive the worst.
God is with us. God loves us. No matter what happens, we will never be alone. No matter how weak or inadequate my own preparedness and coping and responses may be, God will see me through. So that I, and you, will be able to make it through. Through any suffering or trouble, God will bring the power of the resurrection. So that no matter what the hardship or suffering or death, it will not be able to destroy us. It will be redeemed. As Isaiah 43 promises,
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you.
We are grateful for your gifts and prayers during this hard season. Chris and I are busy checking in with families, calling and texting individuals, trying to offer encouragement and comfort. We made another trip of grocery drop-offs with some families this week, getting a chance to see and pray for them across their front yards. One teen we suspect had Covid-19, who was diagnosed with pneumonia, is recovering well. What joy it was to see his smiling face on our rounds. I think we can all appreciate the challenges of having many family members all home at the same time in smaller living spaces. I think we can also appreciate the challenges of parenting teenagers in this time of restriction, home-schooling and isolation, especially for single parents who don’t have another adult in the house to help share the load. We appreciate your prayers for us and for our people. May God’s great love and mercy bless and keep you and yours in these hard days. May the power of the Resurrection sustain you. Chris and I wish you a very blessed and holy Easter.