Faith Matters: Great Ordeals

What an ordeal. What a great ordeal.

Coronavirus. Political instability. Economic uncertainty. Stressed institutions and systems. Unemployment. Anxious and depressed people. Divorce. Cancer. Racism. Riots. Isolation. Separation. Estrangement. Death.

What an ordeal. What a great ordeal.

Of course, we are hardly the first people to go through such trying or difficult times. From the cradle of Christianity our forbearers have endured one great ordeal after another. There have been plagues, famines, persecutions, war, natural disasters, and terrorism. There is probably no shortage of times when the church lamented…

What an ordeal. What a great ordeal.

When you’re caught up in an ordeal – whether it’s a global pandemic or something much closer to home like a divorce or diagnosis – it can be difficult to stay calm or remain faithful. Questions race through our heads while hearts race in our chests. The breath shortens. Legs shake. Sleep suffers. Tears flow. As we endlessly grieve…

What an ordeal. What a great ordeal.

In the book of Revelation, we get a glimpse of heaven. Apparently, there’s going to be a lot of people there. Scripture says they’ll be people from all over – democrats and republicans, Americans and Iranians, sinners of varying degrees, people from both sides of the tracks/aisle/fence/wall. These folks from all nations, all tongues, all tribes and people are supposedly to be so numerous that no one could possibly count them. And, they sing. They shout (in a good way). They worship while angels dance. In lieu of protests, they wave palms. Day and night, they harmonize: Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen. The whole thing is enough to make one think…

What an ordeal. What a great ordeal.

Who do you suppose these are? the scriptures ask. Who are these people singing and dancing and laughing and praising? Who are these people who keep company with angels and never sleep? Who are these people making such a glorious ruckus? The answer…

These are those who have come out of the great ordeal.

They hunger no more. They thirst no more. They squabble no more. They suffer no more. Their shepherd leads them to the springs of the water of life. God has wiped away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:9-17)

I think great ordeals can be handled more faithfully when one knows they’re going to come out of it. Especially, when one knows that an abundant, eternal, and blessed life is promised on the other side. For me, that hope is enough to want to start the singing now and stop the squabbling now. It’s enough to start the praising now and stop the pain now. It’s enough to push us towards praise of God day and night. It is enough to sing:

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

In other words…

What a God. What a great God.

Do not be afraid. God is with you in the midst of this great ordeal.

In the Way,
PSDH

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Scott Hannon
Pastor Scott serves the people of St. John by helping the congregation welcome everyone, care for one another, and grow in the joy of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Pastor Scott earned his bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo and went to seminary at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in preaching from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Pastor Scott and his wife, Kate, live in Bowmansville, NY with their children Molly, Delaney, and John Scott. Scott and Kate love Western New York for many reasons, not the least of which are the changing seasons, wonderful people, and of course the Buffalo Bills. Pastor Scott’s ministry priorities are worship, preaching and teaching. Scott’s hobbies are guitar, golf, and reading. To read some of Scott’s musings visit his blog Way-ward at www.psdh.org.