This is Hard

Contributing Writer Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
Contributing Writer
Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY

This is hard. Life in the coronatimes is difficult. It is tough time to be old and a tough time to be young. It is a tough time to be working and a tough time for those looking for work. It is a tough time for those close to retirement or retiring and it is a tough time to be starting a career. It is a tough time to be a pre-schooler, a tough time to be a highschooler, and a tough time to be a grad-student. And, it is a tough time to be teaching on all levels. This is tough.

It is hard being pregnant right now or sick right now. It is hard to be home alone and it is hard to be home with constant roommates. It is hard on kids, hard on teens, hard on young adults, hard on middle adults, and hard on older adults. It is hard on essential workers and hard on all those who have to be creative with their work. (Keep in mind I have not even touched on the ethical and political realities facing our country right now.) Life is hard.

Therefore, it should go as no surprise that it is a hard time to practice our faith in the ways that we were accustomed. These are difficult days and religion has not been extended an abstention from the challenges. On the contrary, life for Christians (and many believers of other faiths) is complicated right now too. What I hope we can keep in mind is perspective. While it is easy to get down and feel sorry for ourselves, in reality, the struggles of the church in the midst of the coronacrisis pale in comparison to what Christians have endured for centuries. Our forebearers were persecuted for their faith. Some were fed to lions. Others were burned at stakes. Some were tortured for the enjoyment of cruel leaders.
For many Christians going to church was never, ever easy. For some, it involved miles of walking (yes, barefoot and uphill both ways). In many places Christians still risk their lives to worship. In some countries it remains illegal to practice Christianity. Even prior to the corona, faithfulness to Jesus has divided households, ended relationships, and upended reality.

Christians have dealt with devastating circumstances that make our current situation seem more like an inconvenience more than anything else. Churches have been burned by racists, leveled by natural disasters, and bombed by terrorists. Worshipping communities have been imprisoned. Not to mention, this is not the first pandemic the church has gone through (and those Christians couldn’t Zoom with each other or worship online).

All of which I offer to encourage patience and endurance as we continue our faithfulness in the midst of this pandemic. I will be the first to say that I have lamented the cessation of public worship but let me also be the first to say that our struggles as 21st century Americans pale in comparison to the struggles of Christians through the centuries and around the globe. If this is our “lot”, we still won the Christian “lottery.”

In his parting words to the disciples Jesus said,
“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles, but take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Jesus knew that we would face troubles, adversity, hardship, andstruggle. He never promised it would be easy. However, he did promise peace in the midst of it all. Moreover, he reminded his disciples to have courage, despite the troubles they faced, because he has overcome the world.

This is hard… and tough… and difficult… and frustrating. But it is also an opportunity to practice what we preach – to practice faithfulness, gentleness, patience, understanding, forgiveness, and love. It is a time to be still and despite it all to know… it is well. Really, it is… because Jesus has overcome the world.

In the Way,
PSDH

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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.