I believe this year will go down in the annals of history as a very challenging year for all of us. With respect to current problems, our country is faced with issues related to Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, violent crime, racism, sexism, ageism, economic inequality, drug addiction, unemployment, shortage of food among a wide cross section of socio-economic groups, affordability of health care, and children falling behind in school.
How we confront these problems depends on whether or not we keep our focus on the problem rather than the solution –God Himself. The Christian’s approach is to see the problems as opportunities to exercise faith, to practice trusting the Lord, to prove God’s great faithfulness, and to be proved by Him. Our Christian faith is made stronger when we work together with the Lord to find solution to life’s problems.
If hope was ever a necessary coping mechanism for contemporary Christians, it is presently vitally necessary for both our mental and spiritual health. To live without hope is to cease to live. Someone said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” Hope is the belief that something beneficial is to come, the idea that what is currently seen is not the end of the story, but something greater is ahead. Hope in itself is faith that God does have plans for us and that they are good indeed. In all biblical stories, hope is an integral component of the journey. My major concern has to do with how each one of you will respond or continue to respond to the present condition as outlined above; therefore, I offer the following suggestions:
First, avoid wrong reactions to the problems. Your primary questions always should be, “Am I willing to follow God’s will when I know it? Friends, we have an obligation as Christians to be a witness to our faith in a God who loves and cares for all His people. Avoid hatred and malice. Control your anger aimed at others. Paul exhorts us, ”… examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22).
Second, follow the example of Jesus. During the last 4 years, I led the church through numerous studies of St. Paul’s letters and the Gospels, and we looked at different aspects of the hope that Jesus brings to the world today. Like Jesus, be a God-pleaser, not a self-pleasers or a people-pleaser. People-pleasers are those who try to please people even if they have to compromise their own conscience to do so. Paul tried to please people as long as pleasing them did not cause him to displease the Lord (Galatians 1:10,
1 Corinthians 10:33). Follow Jesus by loving your neighbors, regardless of race, ethnicity or creed.
Third, work to achieve unity, not division. St. Paul pleads that every effort be made for unity with these words: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). Guard this unity by being sensitive to your brothers and sisters in Christ and not offending them unnecessarily (Romans 14:20–15:1). Each of us should ‘please our neighbors for their good, to build them up’ (Romans 15:2).
Fourth, avoid solving your problems with human efforts alone. God has the power to remove our burdens and rescue us in our distress. His intent is for His children to face their problems in the power of the risen Christ. God says, “I removed the burden from their shoulders … In your distress you called and I rescued you” (Psalm 81:6a–7a).
Finally, Rejoice and give thanks. Don’t allow yourself to complain about everything. Thanksgiving has great power to bring you joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever we give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in our life. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
In His Service,
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor