The Pastor’s Piece – January 24, 2021
Fellowship of Christian Farmers
January 24, 2021
Sometimes it’s the little things that make you happy.
It’s been a fun week. Our son’s birthday was Sunday and we had a nice Facetime chat with him that evening. We asked him what he got for his birthday and it was the usual T-shirts and such. We asked him what his wife got him and he said “a giant Lego set.” Turns out she gave him a Lego car to construct, and when it is done, it will occupy about ¼ of their kitchen table. He was working away on that while we talked and it took me back to when he was a little boy when he just loved putting together his Lego toys. Now as a big kid, all grown up, he still likes his Legos. You can’t take the boy out of the man.
On Monday morning he sent word that his wife was in labor and they were at the hospital. Twenty hours later, and three weeks early, the baby was born. Mom and baby have been recuperating ever since and are doing well. That’s pretty great – but what about the state of the world she comes into?
How do we experience God’s peace during times like these? Well, here’s something to consider. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 the Apostle Paul wrote: ““For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead,” (NASB).
Sometime between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, Paul had a brush with death that changed his perspective on life and his relationship with God. We don’t know what it was – but we do know it was life-threatening and Paul thought he was going to die from it.
Whether we face physical illness, such as Covid, or financial stress, or relational disappointments, or simply worry and fear because of all the social unrest in the present and uncertainty about the future, we may find it hard to see anything remotely approaching a “purpose” or “reason”. Often the best we can do is write it off as an attack of the enemy, never discerning God’s design in our distress.
But as overwhelming as this brush with death was for Paul, he knew that God was in it! The point of it all, says Paul, “was in order that we not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,” (v. 9b).
The simple words “in order that” of verse 9 points us to the fact that God is sovereign over the troubles and afflictions of life. There is always design in our distress. God so values our trust in Him alone that He will graciously dismantle everything else in the world that we might be tempted to rely on: even life itself, if necessary. His desire is that we grow deeper and stronger in our confidence that He Himself is all we need.
The pandemic, the political chaos, the racial hostility, the disruption of life, the loss of income, the pressure of everything, is “in order that” we might be compelled by God’s grace to learn how not to rely on ourselves or anything else but on God alone.
If you still can’t see God’s hand in what is happening out there, that’s ok. Just know that there is a divine design in our distress. If nothing else, it is in order that you and I might learn not to trust in our own resources, but in God alone.
This world can sometimes be very much upside down and yet, at the same time, we get glimpses of how wonderful and glorious it is. God’s creation is beautiful in all its aspects – especially in a new life. As I look at that baby’s face and I see the miracle of life, I think about how great God is. And then when I think about the miracle of a rebirth, His greatness overwhelms me again. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ …” (1 Peter 1:3).
On our Jumbotron this week we’ve been scrolling the words “God is good.” Someone mentioned that we didn’t finish the statement. The full quote is: “God is good all the time. All the time God is good.” She said her mom, who is now in heaven, used to say that all the time. That’s pretty cool too.
Perhaps the most consistent refrain from America’s Founders is that our national experiment would prove unsustainable without a virtuous citizenry. John Adams, our second President, said it most clearly: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Yet, Americans are becoming increasingly immoral and irreligious, our shocking lack of conscience is on display in rising numbers. Even strict laws are powerless to defend a people against so much moral corrosion.
The situation is dire, but not without hope. Despair is a sin. Christ is risen from the dead. God, in His gracious goodness, has revealed to us what is true and what is good. He has given us His Word and, through prayer, He has made Himself available to us.
The devolution of our collective conscience may continue. The removal of constitutional rights might be inevitable. (May it never be!) But even if so, may God’s people not be reduced to outrage or cowardice. May we be the reservoir of strength and renewal our nation so desperately needs.
Longtime Dallas Theological Seminary Professor Howard Hendricks said it best: “The size of your God determines the size of everything.”
Let us pray …
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor at Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).