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SERMON FOR THE WEEK: Hard times can be good times

Because opportunities to attend services may be limited for several weeks, the newspaper has invited local clergy to submit sermons for publication here.

Gracepoint Church, Peabody

Hard times can be good times if we turn to a good God.

The 30s were hard times. I can remember being a young pastor serving as a volunteer chaplain at the county hospital. One of the dear patients was thought to be dying. As chaplain, I offered her prayer and a listening ear.

I asked her, “What are your fondest memories?”

She told me of her family and how precious they were to her, and then she said something that took me back.

She said, “I have such fond memories of the Depression.”

Alarmed, I said, “I understand how family could be a great source of memories, but the Depression?”

She reassured me, “That’s when my family became family.”

Hard times can be good times if we turn to a good God.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 tells us: When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain (dust bowl?) or command locusts to devour the land (metaphor for the stock market crash?) or send a plague (Coronavirus?) among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It’s hard to believe that a loving God would do the items listed above.

We cringe when we hear the words, “When I.” How could God do such a thing? This kind of thinking goes against our training. We don’t need God. Hard times are just that, hard. Right? Science will get us through this. A doctor will come up with a vaccine, we’ll all get a shot, and move on. Covid-19 will become a bad memory and we will forget all about it. This is the healthy way to see it, right?

What if it’s not? Why retain God in our thinking? One, God gives pain purpose. Without God, this plague is just the result of the blind forces of chance leaving the fittest of us to survive. We may not like it but we can’t argue with it. Naturalism and evolution lead us to this conclusion. God doesn’t.

Why are churches meeting in groups less than 10? Why are our buildings empty but families still gather around the preaching of God’s Word? Could we be meeting in more intimate settings because our intimacy was lacking? What brings life change? Intimacy or the superficial?

Two, if there is no purpose to pain, we focus on the fight. Internal reflection is not required. Fear drives us. We hoard and don’t think about why. When our dukes are up, our heart is not open. Retaining God in our thinking gives us a safe place to reflect.

What am I suggesting? First, pray, not a hair of your head can be touched without God’s permission. Second, listen, God is speaking. And lastly, be a source of faith and God’s grace to this broken world.

Last modified May 7, 2020

 

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