Trials

Speaking of trials, Congregational Puritan Pastor Richard Sibbes, said, “Glory follows afflictions, not as the day follows the night but as the spring follows the winter; for the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.” Amen!

Folks, if you want to get started preparing your hearts for Sunday, I’ll be delivering a sermon through our Virtual Campus on Facebook, and at mthope.com/sermons entitled “The Servant Who Is Lord!” Philippians 2:5-11. Tune in for hope, encouragement, and Christian discipleship from God’s Word. Blessings! – Pastor Chris

The Lord is Near in Times of Trouble…

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Having what I would call a “healthy skepticism” of most news sources in America, I’ve been fishing for alternative perspectives on Coronavirus. It’s not that traditional news sources are without value, it has become apparent to me that with so much incentive to sensationalize, it is a temptation seldom avoided.
 
I echo the sentiment of one of my philosopher heroes, G.K. Chesterton, when he wrote, “But just as we have lived to see the rise of a cold and lewd sort of novel, so we have lived to see the rise of a cold and lawless and quite cynical kind of journalism. It does not share the national prejudices, but only exploits them. Nay, more, it does not accept prejudices; it actually manufactures them.” (The Illustrated London News, June 11, 1910)
 
I started thinking about alternative insights on Coronavirus. The Amish are outside of our normal patterns. Is it affecting them? What do they think about these kinds of things?
 
In a March 19th article on nypost.com entitled, “Pennsylvania’s Amish community not ‘as spooked’ by coronavirus, mothers say,” the author recounts the thoughts of one Amish mother. “We aren’t watching the news all day like everyone else, so I would say we aren’t as spooked by the coronavirus,” one woman identified only as Mrs. Stoltzfus told the newspaper. “Sure, I’ve been telling my children to wash their hands more with soap, but we’re not constantly being reminded of it. And I think we’re less likely to come into contact with it in our communities.”
 
Their relative isolation decreases their odds of contracting Coronavirus. However, what I find more compelling and immediately practical is the psychological health value of not being bombarded by news and information for this community.
 
I’m a Pastor. I’m always concerned with the preoccupation with physical health to the exclusion of spiritual health. That is highlighted in this current situation. Pay attention. Be mindful. But don’t listen more to the intensity of the news cycle than to the Lord. If we are followers of Christ, perhaps we can learn something from the Amish in this time.
 
Amish already don’t escape their families daily for long hours of work. Their culture is inherently family filled. Some folks are relearning how to spend more time with their families. A man told me recently about a friend of his who is learning more about his kids because he is home more than ever right now.
 
The Amish aren’t consumed with technology and aren’t bombarded with constant news. They are like some of our friends in Haiti. While they may not be as prepared when trouble comes, when it does come they are adaptable because they have not already expended emotional, spiritual, and psychological energy worrying about it.
 
They’ve already committed to trusting God in all things and cultivated a steadfast faith that isn’t easily shaken when one of 10,000 possible calamities befall them.
 
It comes down to just one thing for the follower of Jesus. Who’s report will you believe? Will you observe the report of the world but build your life on the report of the Lord? Or will you react to the banter of the world and place the report of the Lord on a shelf? Walk wisely in the world. Pay attention. But don’t forget that God remains on the throne no matter what is happening in the world!
 
I like the way Nina Pinder put it in an article for the Freeport News, “We are living in the world full of contrasting reports. Satan and the world’s system give their report while God and his servants give a different report. Whose report will you believe? Isaiah 53:1 says, “Who has believed our report? And to whom is the Arm of the Lord revealed?”
 
Don’t let this time of withdrawal find you glued to the news – filled with dread. Make it a time for playing games with the kids, bathing the dogs (or vacuuming loose fur as I enjoy doing on the Basset Hounds!), and most importantly, a time spiritual investment in the Word of God.
 
The news report has a certain utility. The report of the Lord is the source of life, hope, and eternal certainty. Many Blessings in Christ! Read the words of Psalm 46 in its entirety,
 
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how He brings destruction upon the world. He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; He burns the shields with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” ( NLT)
 
Be Blessed! – Pastor Chris