2 Corinthians 1:7-11
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.
Is God good all the time? Not if you read these verses from Paul. Oh you can rationalize and switch words around and qualify things but, honestly folks, life in the church is not always a bundle of joy. What I like about Paul is that he pulls no punches. It was bad. He was persecuted. He was slandered. He was targeted. But...enough about the Bible!
When I read these words, I thought "Well, well, well..." Think about the only in terms of today. Suffering, affliction, despairing of life...and things happening "in Asia." Of course, Asia to us is often "China" even though for Paul it was probably Turkey. He received the sentence of death. But then he also said that God delivered them.
Outside of the clash between the new faith in Christ and the existing cultures in Paul's day, we have a pandemic that we are hoping God can somehow deliver us from. I still bristle at those who refused to practice safe distancing and said that God would protect them. I still think it's almost immoral to put others at peril because YOU think your faith is stronger. I still think it's theologically arrogant to think that God delivers some from peril but not others.
But the overarching gist of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians is that we get through the bad stuff. We do not get through stuff unscathed. Our confidence is shaken and it will be a while before it returns. Our lives will be re-shaped. Our economy will be different. Maybe things we thought used to be important will not be so important. My hope is that the church will emerge as more important in our lives. I even hope there will be a "new normal" that reorganizes our priorities.
But we are humans. As I said after 9/11 all the signs that said "God Bless America" would soon change to "BOGO This Week" and "Buy 3 get one free" and things like that. But underneath it all, our faith is guiding us. Underneath it all, our trust in God is holding us together. Underneath it all, we're still strong in love. And underneath it all, there still burns in our hearts a desire to come back stronger and better.
Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand;
Imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.
O God; we don't know what's going to happen. But we do trust that you will be with us. Help us to rest well in this, that we may be set to serve you: through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser