Thursday, January 28, 2010

Regarding Faith....

Our home church, Lake Murray Community Church, supports missionary workers here in our area, in various places in the continental United States, and overseas. Several years ago, K left our congregation to serve God in Asia. We keep in contact with her regularly via e-mail. K is an intriguing woman, one who participated in our church's literary discussion group when she was in town and is an excellent writer. Last week she sent those who support her in prayer this letter; I asked her permission to share it here. It touched me, especially in light of the difficulties of several of my friends lately, and I hope that you find it helpful and/or enlightening too....

God does not lose hope. He is not uncertain of his plan working out in the world, or wondering if he can conquer the next obstacle. He is not worried that we might not do our part, and the whole thing will come crashing down.

He is not tired. He is not anxious. He is not overwhelmed.

He is not indifferent to our troubles, our insecurities, our worries.
But he is secure enough in who he is to swallow all of our problems
without them bringing him down.

It is in the moment that we see Jesus on the cross that we realize
God’s commitment to humanity. In becoming like us, he makes a new way
for us to be victorious in the midst of pain, despair, and death.
Because ultimately, he cannot be conquered. And since his Spirit
lives in us, and his promise is to work all things together for good
for his followers, we can believe that his plans for us will come to

Some of our wounds, some our questions, will never find answers this
side of heaven. But his challenge to us is to see the unfolding
history that we are participating in through eyes of faith. To
approach others in love. To hope.

We all borrow hope from one another from time to time. I think one of
my favorite things about being a part of the community of followers of
Jesus is that when I run out of hope, energy, or motivation, others
gather around me to lift me up with encouragement, love, and prayer.

But ultimately, that hope can’t be rooted in the Body, no matter how
amazing our communion is. Jesus, the Messiah, is the head of the
Body. His death and resurrection are what give us hope. His presence
is what keeps us going. Because he lives, we believe that redemption
is possible – that there is no situation so horrible, no sin so ugly,
no life so full of despair that he can’t turn it around.

As I look around at the situation of the U------ people – oppression,
prejudice, and misunderstandings from without, competition,
entitlement, and ethnic pride from within – it can be easy to get lost
in the layered impossibilities of their circumstances. How can I
believe in a God who is at work redeeming the world when I see so much
pain, violence, and evil going unchecked directly in front of me? It
is too much of a burden for me to carry; in fact it was a burden that
was never meant to be mine.

And yet, God has not lost hope for the U------ people, or for other
seemingly impossible-to-reach Muslim groups around the world. He is
not surprised by what he sees, and he is determined to bring his
reality into their broken world.

I’ve been slowly realizing, as I’ve come to him with my exhaustion and
brokenness, that I can’t rely only on my own vision, my own strength.
I need to borrow hope for the U------ people from him; to take a few
minutes to regroup and look at them from his perspective.

And so when Jesus calls us to come to him with our burdens and rest, I
can believe that this is exactly what I need. Even though the work
isn’t finished, even though there is still sin and suffering, even
though the Kingdom has not yet come on earth… God is handling it

Aaaaaah. I feel much better now. One of the regular readers of my blog cautioned me to be careful of taking on my friends' difficult issues, and rightly so. I tend to suffer along with my friends and it literally makes me ill, somehow increasing my chronic pain and lowering my immune response. So I'm ever-so-slowly learning to place the problems of others at the foot of the Cross. Now the real issue: leaving them there and not picking them back up....

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