September 28, 2023
I remember once, a number of years ago, my older son asked me if I enjoyed visiting people in the hospital. It was a simple question, but it sure made me think. I guess I had never thought about it that way. “Enjoy” probably isn’t the word I would use, I told him. But I believe it is one of the more important things that a pastor does. But the more I thought about it, I decided it also is one of the more difficult things I do.
There are the easy ones, of course. When babies are born or a simple procedure is sure to bring immediate relief or restore independence. But then there are the others. The operation that is one in what promises to be a long series. Or the operations that promise very little at all. Or the operations that never happen because there is simply nothing that can be done.
Those are the tough times because it goes against our very understanding of God. God loves us, we are convinced. But if God loves us, then why do these things happen? How do we go about explaining God in the midst of crisis? How do we find God’s hope in the midst of hopelessness?
Maybe that’s part of our problem as people of faith. We tend to equate God with the good things in our lives – our blessings – rather than simply equating God with our lives. We see God at work during the good times, then arrogantly demand to know why God has abandoned us during the bad times. But the words the Apostle Paul shares with the church at Rome are clear. “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.” Notice what Paul doesn’t say. Paul doesn’t say that all things work out well for those who love God. Paul says all things work together for God’s good.
That’s what faith is all about. Faith is being certain of God’s presence and love when all evidence seems to indicate the exact opposite. The real blessing of faith is not finding God during the tough times, but rather discovering the work that God is doing through you.
See you Sunday.