We are starting the second week of November. When I look at the calendar, I can hardly believe what I see. Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Christmas is nipping at its heels. Like many of you, I have no idea where the year has gone, but I think I will be glad to see it go. This has been a year of challenges, hardships, uncertainty, division, and change. We are weary from all the challenges and many of us want things to go back to the way they were. Except that never happens. Once things change, they never go back to exactly the way they were. And I think that is by design. But hopefully we have learned some things along the way. Here are a few things to consider.
We have seen hate this year…between races and political parties. Sometimes families have been ripped apart. But there is a power, a force that is much stronger than hate…and that is love. In Jesus day the religious leaders, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees hated Jesus. They hated Him enough to plot ways to kill Him. They knew they wanted to kill Him. He knew it too. But instead of playing into their hatred, instead of acquiescing and changing what He was doing, Jesus kept teaching, healing, performing miracles and loving. In fact, Jesus loved the world so much he was willing to lay down His life so that all who believe in Him will not perish but we will have eternal life. We read in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Those who believe in Jesus He calls friends. And He loves us enough to die in our place so we can spend eternity in heaven with Him.
There are many who have shed tears this year. Perhaps it was the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or house. Maybe it was being cooped up for what seemed like an eternity. Some cry because they are so tired of everything. Tears can be cleansing, healing, cathartic. They also make our eyes and nose red. But in Revelation 21:4 we read that Jesus will wipe away every single one of our tears. There will be a time when there is no more death or mourning, no crying or pain, no sickness or suffering. The former things will pass away and all things will be made new. The new has not arrived yet, but we go to Him when our eyes leak, when we don’t know where else to turn and He brings comfort and hope.
This year has seemed full of chaos. There seemed to be turmoil every which way we turned. And it never seemed to get better. Whether it was in our personal lives, our work, the world in general, there was chaos. And it is tiring. Chaos wears people down until they have no means of coping anymore. But Jesus brings peace in the middle of the chaos. He tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives so I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” And then in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” The world is the domain of the evil one. He wants anything but peace. It is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who brings peace in this chaotic world. We can go to Him at anytime and He will bring us peace.
Some of us may have looked at the world and seen nothing but bleak. It has been like looking at the grey skies and bare trees of the Midwest where winter seems to go on forever. There were other days when the heat of summer seemed to bake the hope and joy right out of our lives. The summer too, has seemed to go on forever. But the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season for everything, and a time for every matter under heaven. Check out the third chapter of Ecclesiastes if you have a few minutes. We have seen much of what was written in Ecclesiastes 3 this year, but God controls the seasons. He sets everything in its course. He is in control and sovereign, even when it seems like He is no where to be found.
You see, no matter how hard the world pushes at us, no matter how hard chaos and fear, hate and tears may overtake our lives, there is One who is bigger and stronger pushing back for us. Chris Tomlin sings a song that we sing sometimes with a refrain that says this: “Our God is greater, Our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power, Our God.” He fights for us. He loves on us. He wipes away tears. He draws us close when we feel alone. He brings peace when we are in turmoil. Because He that is in us is far greater than the one who is in the world.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W