This is the second blog post in an ongoing series to be written by the leadership team at Way of the Lord. These posts are being distributed via email and can also be found on our website at wayofthelord.org. In May, Lance Wonders wrote about our current and future hope in Jesus. This month, I’m writing about God’s love for us during painful and confusing times. Some of what I share will be familiar to those of you in my small group or attendees of the Sunday evening Gathering Unto Him meetings.
Throughout the past 18 months, people experienced much more negative change than usual. There was disruption of routines, isolation and lack of human contact, disagreement in many areas, illness/disease, and death. Stress and anxiety are rising. In January of this year, the U.S. Census’ Household Pulse Survey showed that over 40% of adults reported anxiety and depression. The world is seeing increased addiction of all sorts - drugs, alcohol, online gambling, and pornography/sexual addiction. A recent poll showed that 52% of U.S. workers are not happy with their current job (Harris Polls, Feb. 2021). Across the developed world, the contagion of gender dysphoria is growing rapidly. In some female prep schools, 30% of teen girls now self-identify as transgender (Abigail Shrier, recent speech at Hillsdale College). The CDC reported that over 11% of American adults contemplated suicide in the summer of 2020. People are in real pain.
As a church community, the list of family and church members in need of healing is consistently lengthy. Last month, Lance wrote about our disappointments, mental struggles, and some of the death and illness that we’ve experienced as a church. In my own family, we were surprised by the quick decline and passing of my father on October 15 - the day after his 75th birthday.
Those of you who’ve spent time with me know that I’m generally hopeful and optimistic. As a teen, I received a word during a prayer meeting that I had “God-confidence” rather than self-confidence. Though I’ve walked in that regularly, the past several months have been very hard. Based on conversations with others, I know that is true for many of us. Spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible and meeting together are a struggle. Faith that God hears our prayers and heals today is put to the test. Sometimes, all we can do is wordlessly give God our burdens. One of my common prayers is to simply lift my hands (palms up) to the Lord as if I’m handing him a package.
In response to these struggles, I recently asked God to show me His love and to let me hear His voice. Almost immediately, He did. First, he reminded me of a time when I was reminiscing about some music that I enjoyed a long time ago - the Counting Crows. I looked through some old CD’s but must have thrown that one away. A day or two later, I was taking a walk near Jefferson Park and came upon a CD laying in the street - August and Everything After by the Counting Crows!!! I’m definitely not recommending it as good music but I wholeheartedly endorse asking God to show you how much He loves you:)
The other way that God answered my prayer was to cause His Word to come alive. I was reading in Ephesians 2, starting with verse 12:
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace.
It goes on to speak of Jews and Gentiles, coming together with Jesus as the cornerstone, growing into a holy temple - a dwelling place for God. As I read, I experienced one of those times of clarity as God revealed His truth. He even put an exclamation point on it for me when Sam Mayes shared the same scripture at the Gathering Unto Him meeting the next day.
I pray that God extends His peace and life to everyone reading these words. He loves us more than we can even imagine! If you’re struggling right now, I encourage you to ask God to show you His love and speak to you. Ask a family member or friend to pray with you. Don’t neglect meeting with others.
In John 16, Jesus speaks to His disciples about who He is and the relationship that He secured for us with the Father. The chapter ends with, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”