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Three of the Hardest Words to Say in the Christian Faith

As I write this, there are now 800,049 confirmed cases worldwide of those infected with COVID-19.  164,610 of them hail from the U.S.  There are now 38,714 deaths worldwide, 10% of them from within our nation’s borders.  By the time you read this, I’m sure the numbers are far worse. 

Everyone in my small circle of influence is telling me similar things: (1) We’re tired.  (2) We’re anxious.  (3) We want life to return to normal.  (4) We’re going stir crazy, and we still have a number of weeks, if not months, before we’ll get through the immediate crisis.

We’ve heard it said so many times that it sounds trite and tired, but it’s true nonetheless: “We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.”  Sometimes, though, the way God holds the future and the way we would are two different things.

I wonder if Daniel’s three friends ever thought that.  Exiled from their homeland, forced into servitude to the king, subjected to an entire cultural re-education program, and mandated to worship a golden image of the king, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s world was turned completely upside down (Daniel 1-3). 

When sentenced to death in a fiery furnace, they replied, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, ESV).

“But…if…not….”  Three of the hardest words to say in the Christian faith.  Do I believe God can deliver us from COVID-19?  Yes.  Do I believe what the enemy has meant for evil, God can use for good?  Yes.  Do I believe unprecedented times can bring unparalleled opportunities?  Yes. 

But…if…not, will I still serve Him, the One and only true God?  I pray my answer, and yours, is “Yes,” a resounding, “Yes.”  We believe that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). 

We believe that though we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, one day we will see everything with perfect clarity (1 Corinthians 13:12).

When the blind men came to Jesus to be healed, He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  And they said, “Yes, Lord.”  And He said, “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matthew 9:28-29).

So we pray, Give us faith that will bring healing to our nation and world, and in all of the unknowns, may millions turn to You who are known.  

Nearly 600 years ago, Thomas à Kempis concluded his classic work, The Imitation of Christ, with this final sentence: “If God’s works were such that human reason could easily figure them out, they could not be said to be wonderful, nor would they be far too marvelous for words to express.” 

O, Lord, give us a resolute faith like that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to believe that one day You will reveal to us that which is far too marvelous for words to express.  Grant us Your strength to endure, Your wisdom to understand, and Your peace to calm anxious thoughts.  Thank You that Jesus invites all who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him that He might give them rest.  May we embrace this truth in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

3 Suggestions to Help with Fear

I don’t know about you, but one thing that has been happening to me during this COVID-19 crisis is it’s bringing back a lot of memories of other times I’ve been really afraid. My mind gets fixated on some other fear from the past, and then it adds fuel to the fire of present fears and even the fearful “what ifs” of the future.

Just last night, my mind went back in time to when I was eight years old, and my family and I lived in a small town in Central Illinois. There was a bridge over a small creek that bordered our back yard, and one day I got the brilliant idea that I was going to cross the bridge not by going over it but by going under it.

I grabbed hold of the under-railing, shimmied my feet up to secure my grip, and began to inch my way across. Things were going great until I got half-way across, and, at the highest point between the bridge and the creek, you guessed it, I looked down. Fear shot through my mind and body like a caffeine rush from three cups of coffee. I knew at that moment I would never see my ninth birthday. I knew I would fall to my death, and I thought of my poor parents finding my crumpled body lying on the rocks below.

What did I do? I held on. I prayed. And I didn’t give up. Somehow, by the grace of God and maybe even a guardian angel (or two), I inched my way across the rest of the bridge to the other side.

So, why did this particular memory come to mind yesterday, when there are far-more serious fears I’ve faced in childhood and as an adult? The reason, I believe, is because I learned several lessons from that prepubescent panic that I need to bring into my present fear.

  1. Hold on. Underneath that bridge all those years ago, it was all I could do to hold on. Maybe that’s how you feel right now. I was thinking about this in my sleepless state last night (anyone else having a little hard time sleeping?), and I was reminded of the old song by Rich Mullins that says, “Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all. When the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small. So hold me Jesus, ‘cause I'm shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my Glory, won't You be my Prince of Peace?” If you find it hard to hold on, don’t worry, Jesus is holding on tight enough for both of you.
  2. Pray. When I was holding on to that rail under the bridge, you better believe I prayed. I prayed as no other eight-year-old had ever prayed. Many times I don’t feel the answers to my prayer, and sometimes I don’t always see the answers to my prayers (at least the way I want them answered), but I trust in the One in whose name I pray. Lord, I believe, but help me in my unbelief (Mark 9:24).
  3. Don’t give up. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but as I learned from my assistant several years ago (a lesson she learned from her mother), “Inch by inch, life is a cinch, yard by yard, life is hard.” Believe me, for me to get across that bridge all those years ago was inch by inch, not yard by yard. But made it, I did. And so it is with the COVID-19 Crisis. We will get through this. YOU will get through this! But more than likely it will come slowly, inch by inch. So, don’t . . . give . . . up.

Lord, “You have not given us the spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7), so help us to hold on, pray, and never give up.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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