Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
Life is filled with ordeals.
In the past week we heard about the ordeal caused by terror. We wrestled with the ordeal caused by potential collusion and corruption. We continued to watch people recover from the ordeal caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters. Ordeals caused by cancer, death, divorce, employment issues, health concerns, relationship concerns, and so much more. These ordeals and others affect many of us daily and directly. In fact, life itself sometimes feels like one great ordeal.
One of my favorite passages in scripture is a story from Revelation in which the author has a vision of heaven (presumably). The author says he looked around and saw a “great multitude” of people with all different races and languages. They were gathered around a throne worshiping God, singing with palm branches in their hands. It’s a portrait of joy, celebration, awe, wonder, and life.
About halfway through the passage one of the elders asks the author, “Who are these people? Where have they come from?” He replies, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” The elder then answers:
“These are those who have come out of the great ordeal… They will hunger no more. They will thirst no more. The sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat… God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17
God promises us that in the end we will get through these ordeals. We are assured that the ordeals caused by disaster, death, and disease will not overpower us. Our faith helps us to see God shepherding us through these ordeals now and ultimately shepherding us into a kingdom that is free from pain and persecution forever.
Julian of Norwich said, “God did not say: you shall not be tempted, you shall not be travailed, you shall not be diseased; but God said, ‘You shall not be overcome.’”
I’m not sure what your ordeal is right now. I don’t know what it will be tomorrow or next week. At some point life will catch you off guard. You’ll feel undermanned and without a plan. You will inevitably at some point once again find yourself overwhelmed. But you will not be overcome.
May God’s presence with you now and promise to be with you forever give you the strength to carry on with faith and hope. And until that day when hunger and thirst are no more and every tear is wiped from our eyes, may we soldier on with confidence boldly serving, supporting, caring, comforting, and loving one another through this great ordeal.
God says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
You’re going to get through this.
In the Way,
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.