Suggested Scripture Reading – Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. – Ephesians 6:10-11
Our World Belongs to God – Preamble Article 3
Still, despair and rebellious pride fill the earth:
some, crushed by failure
or broken by pain,
give up on life and hope and God;
but still hoping for human triumph,
work feverishly to realize their dreams.
As believers in God,
we also struggle with the spirits of this age,
resisting them in the power of the Spirit,
testing them by God’s sure Word.
In her introduction to the children’s Bible, The Jesus Storybook, Sally Lloyd-Jones, writes
(Some) people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they’re downright mean.
It is a remarkable admission to acknowledge that the book held sacred by Christians is largely filled with a cast of characters who are inconsistent, fallible, and as responsible for the chaos of culture as anyone else. When we say that believers in God struggle with the spirits of this age, it is a confession that spans the generations. Believers in God are not better than those who do not believe in God, though we often try to parade a peculiar self-righteousness. And although there are some poor interpretations of the Bible that somehow suggest that belief in God is the equivalent of having a cosmic genie that will in time grant our wishes if we are “good enough” at believing, a healthy belief in God acknowledges that good and evil are experienced by both the believer and the unbeliever.
- There are no reasons for why one person is born in Canada and another is born in North Korea.
- There are no reasons for why one person has the genetic make-up that easily says no to the next beer while the next person has one sip and they’re on a path to destruction.
- There are no reasons for why one person dies in an earthquake and another person lives.
But each of us, whether we believe in God or not, are called into a world where these questions and tensions exist. Some people respond by saying, what’s the point? Others respond with belief in what we now call the American dream (myth), which is to say if I work hard enough I’ll raise myself up.
Belief in God responds (or should) with honesty and hope.
- The honesty says that everything is out of my hands, I do not have the power to make all things right.
- The hope says that if I know that there is a right way, then each day I will do my best to work towards what is right…not because I believe in what I can do, but I believe in the mysterious spirit that imparts in me a deeper sense of beauty and justice.
- The honesty says that I will struggle and make mistakes along the way.
- The hope says that in spite of my limitations, the mysterious Spirit will work through me in ways I cannot understand.
- The honesty says, “I feel the pain of this world.”
- The hope says that the pain and struggle will not last and it will not get the last Word.
God of suffering, who is acquainted with grief, you know that we often have a natural inclination to pack it in, give up or take the easy road. By your hope, meet us on the way today and remind us that it is you who will get us through, Amen.