A Word From the Pastor
It doesn’t seem to let up, does it? Whether it’s acts of nature like Superstorm Sandy or acts of violence like the bombings in Boston, we seem to go from month to month with terrible news of senseless tragedy and loss. This morning it’s an explosion in Texas that may have taken the lives of many and destroyed other’s homes and livelihoods.
I’m always looking for the right words to share after such events but nothing ever seems adequate. That’s because there are no words that can explain why such things happen or make us feel less anxious or afraid. We live in a world of unknowns. So much is out of our control that it tempting to throw up our hands in resignation and withdraw from the world and all of its threats.
Uncertainty is part of living. But that doesn’t mean we have to live in constant apprehension. As Christians and disciples of Jesus Christ, we know that life is meant to be lived to its best. Jesus offers us a way to live fully and abundantly (John 10:10). But there is never a guarantee that bad and even tragic things won’t happen; in fact, living in the fullness of life leaves us vulnerable to the full spectrum of good and bad, happiness and grief, glory and evil.
Belief in Jesus and faith in God does not give us answers to our questions about horrific events. Our faith is the answer. Faith in God who created everything and called it good. Faith in God who loves us and seeks our redemption. Faith in God who came in human form to show us what Divine Love is all about. Faith in God who raised Jesus from the dead to show us that God is more powerful than even death. When we can trust in God who does not cause bad things to happen but promises to be with us in the midst of it, we are stronger than all the evil and disaster that may occur.
Faith – trust in a Divine One who loves us and saves us – is not blind; it does not pretend awful things don’t happen. Faith gives us the strength and the power to overcome. Faith gives us hope that is solid and evident, not fleeting. Faith gives us purpose to keep going even when we are not sure what tomorrow will bring. Faith gives us courage to respond with care and compassion to show God’s love to the world. Faith is a way, not to understand why terrible things happen, but to respond when terrible things do happen.
Take a careful look at this paraphrase (The Message) of Romans 5:1-11. (I added the emphasis.)
1By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us - set us right with him, make us fit for him - we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. 2 And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. 3 There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5 In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. 7 We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. 8 But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. 9 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. 10 If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! 11 Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!
Notice how God’s salvation is not just a promise of everlasting life (although it is that). It is also about living life in God’s love right here and now. Salvation opens up life for us. Indeed, though Jesus we can live the full and abundant life God desires for us. That makes life beautiful and joyful even when we are challenged by heartache and unanswerable questions.
I don’t have words to make you feel better about what is happening in the world. But I have a God of Love and Savior of Life that I can share with you. May you be empowered and emboldened by the Presence of God in your life.