It's been an emotional week. Scott just got home from a 2 week research trip to the Archives in DC. While he was gone, we had a terrible tragedy occur in our church. A 5 year old boy, Evan English, fell to his death from a two story window in his home. Although this family was fairly new to our church and had only moved to Hawaii in November, it was amazing to see our church come together to love, support and mourn with them.
We had the honor of worshipping with them on Sunday morning, only 4 days after they said goodbye to their son. They had the courage not only to attend church, but to pray aloud, sing, ask openly for forgiveness, call unbelievers to faith! Wow. It was an experience I'll never forget. Jason and Ami English are spiritual giants in my book. They have a long road of grief ahead of them. Please lift them up if God brings them to your mind.
Of course, Evan's death brought forth a whole host of emotions for both Scott and I: mainly fear, sadness, overwhelming thankfulness for our children's protection - to name just a few. Sadly, it takes tragedy to refocus life sometimes. To help us remember that this world is not our home. To make us realize how trivial our "problems" are and to open our eyes to our enormous blessings. In honor of Evan, I hope we can remember this week and savor every second we have with our children.
My mother in law (providentially) sent me this amazing message written on facebook by her pastor Andy Lewis of Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church. I felt it so applicable and encouraging after a week like this to be reminded that we can rejoice in our sufferings because we have a personal God who suffers with us.
not a fair weather religion
Many things can be said about Christianity. One thing that cannot be said is that it is a fair weather religion. It is abundantly clear that Christianity isn’t just for sunny days and beautiful spring mornings. Of course it is a religion for that as well. But there are many religions that do well in those climates. When life is perfect, your finances are in order, your friends and family are healthy and there are no anxieties it is hard to think of religion at all! But we all know that life is never perfect, there are diseases, sickness, poverty and stress. And even when it is “as good as it gets” there is still a burning unrest within us. That we were meant for something greater.
Christianity does fine in fair weather because it teaches us how to be thankful and enjoy the gifts given from God. However, Christianity separates itself from other religions and thinking during the storms of life. During the dark night of the soul. During the dark days and dreary mornings one thing is clear – that the God of Christianity enters into our misery with us. It is good to know that this is clear because during those seasons of life so few things are clear. There are too many clouds to see the sun.
We see this theme played out throughout the Scriptures. Take for example the central passage of the cross of Christ. It is precisely that cross that calls me understand God’s love for me. That God not only knows my sin and misery but enters into that sin in order that I may be free from my misery. That even during the dark days of life we have a God we can worship who is with us in the trials. Unlike other religions or idols Christ has tasted rejection, temptation, despair, and trials.
Reading this morning in Exodus 4 I came across this verse. “And when they heard the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.” In this passage God doesn’t immediately fix the problem. But he will eventually. He will bring them out of bondage to slavery in Egypt and give them a new land. Worship therefore happens not when God frees us but rather when we know God knows and is concerned. Worship happens at this moment because no other God is like our God. No other god we give ourselves to (be it reputation, fame, money, comfort, family, etc.) will care for us when the rain rolls in.
Take heart friends. God sees and tastes our misery. He does so ultimately at the cross. You and I can worship a God with confidence who has promised to bring us out of bondage and into his wonderful light. It starts now as we worship him and will be completed in the new heavens and new earth… where all our misery and trials will seem like a distant dream that we cannot quite remember.