“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” – James 5:11
One day George Mueller began praying to God to bring five of his friends to saving faith in Jesus. After many months, one of them was saved. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man received Christ. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up hoping that he would accept Christ! His faith was rewarded, for soon after Mueller’s funeral the last one was saved!
Now, that’s persevering! What a friend George Mueller was to his friends! And, how we must all persevere to overcome the isolation and separation that keep us apart from one another. We’re nearly 7 months into the abyss of COVID; I’m still learning how to face it biblically and properly. I am still striving to see God’s hand in my life and others by this mess.
The stress in my life must be outwardly evident. One of my best pastoral friends called me yesterday to ask how I was doing. We’d talked the previous Saturday at a meeting of presbytery, and he was following up. When I asked if it was obvious I was wrestling with some things, he said it must be wearying to have so many who’ve not returned to in-person worship.
In last Sunday’s message (Sunday, Sep 20 – “Glory Be to the Father”), I shared some of the difficulties I’m facing presently. My hope in sharing those burdens was to help you realize that I am not exempt from struggles, and therefore, I can be of help to you. Please don’t steer clear of me, but come in my direction even as I come closer to you in yours. We can help each other. That’s the essence of worship that cannot be captured watching on a screen. Entering into others’ pain to walk alongside of them and pick each other up if we fall, now that is the work of the church!
When we were studying Romans Chapter 5 in our current Sunday morning sermon series, we came across these words in verses 3b & 4, “we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Don’t miss that it is tribulation (trials, sufferings, persecution) that produces perseverance. No one living the easy life has ever acquired the capacity to persevere; such folk either have the good things of life handed to them, or they’re too lazy to pursue them for themselves. If you are struggling right now, my friend, you are not alone. I am struggling, too. Let’s talk. But, let’s also pray that God keeps us from wasting the present distress that He intends for our good.
I love what the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a about the outcomes of plugging ahead. “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves…” Paul experienced what he wrote. He writes this not to impress us, but to help us. And, that takes me back to my point. In order to help others, we can empathize (walk in their shoes) with them, and reach out to help them.
Jesus commended the faithful church in Philadelphia that persevered (Revelation 3:10). “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Wow! That’s a promise we can all bank on!
That’s us, dear ones, if we keep on keeping on. We cannot get through this alone, but we can get through it together.
To God be the glory, Pastor Daren