May 25, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
As this podcast comes out, we celebrate Memorial Day in the United States. A time to remember servicemen and women who have fallen in service to our country. But the day has become more of an extra day for sales in retail stores and the day that marks the opening of parks and recreation facilities than a day of remembrance.
Perhaps this year will be a little. Most of the country still suffers under severe economic strain, so we don't have a lot of money to spend, no matter how good the sales might be. Some parks and facilities could open, but remain closed due to the constraints placed on them. Beaches opened in most places, but many remain empty for fear of viral spread.
This year is different in many ways. Doors stay shut. Everyone remains at double-arms length. Masks are not just a fashion statement, but protection against an unseen enemy.
Perhaps we can take time this Memorial Day to think about those who put themselves in harm's way to protect us. As we continue to struggle through these uncertain days with the Corona-SARS-2 virus wreaking havoc around the world, thousands stand in the gap for us trying to make sense of the disease and stop the flood of sick and dying.
Memorial Day has always been about the Armed Forces in the past. Still, I don't think it would be out of line to remember the first responders and medical professionals that work tirelessly to keep us as healthy as possible under these incredible conditions as well. Having served in the Army Medical Department, many of my friends and acquaintances still serve in those most dangerous areas, putting their lives at risk for us. Many of those professionals not only suffered the effects of the disease, but as you know, some succumbed to its effects and passed away. They, too, died for their fellow man, just as soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines.
Peter wrote to early Christians suffering under the hands of persecutors. In his letter, he encourages them to rejoice. He wrote:
12 Dear friends, don't be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share Christ's suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are mocked because of Christ's name, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory—indeed, the Spirit of God—rests on you.
6 Therefore, humble yourselves under God's power so that he may raise you up in the last day. 7 Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. 8 Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, the one who called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be power forever and always. Amen. 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 CEB)
I think the longer we endure this pandemic, the more anxious people become. It's natural. We want it to be over. We want to believe science can create a pill or vaccine or something that will take this thing away. Aren't we smart enough with all our genomic studies, our ability to conquer space, our ability to clone a sheep - aren't we able to defeat this simple virus?
The answer is...maybe. Scientists are working to change a seven to ten-year approval process into a twelve to eighteen-month process. That skips a lot of policies and procedures the government put in place over the years for our protection. I know it sounds like a lot of bureaucracy and a waste of money. Through the years, those precautions saved a lot of lives, though. So we might get a vaccine in a few more months, but I won't hold my breath.
I think I will listen to Peter's encouragement. This suffering isn't from God. He isn't punishing the world for its evil. We punish ourselves. God is in the business of rescuing us from our sins. He sent his Son for just that purpose. The suffering we endure comes because Adam and Eve introduced disobedience and corruption into the cosmos and disrupted its perfect order. We contribute to that chaos and destruction with every passing generation.
But remember Peter's words? "... don't be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share Christ's suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed. ... you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory—indeed, the Spirit of God—rests on you."
We may not feel very blessed going through the pandemic separated from our friends and those we cherish. We might long for yesterday when we could go about freely and do as we pleased. We might shake our fist at God, asking why this tragedy sweeps around the world affecting so many of his children.
To your questions and complaints, you might hear his still, small voice in the whisper of the wind, "Rejoice as you share in your suffering now, so that you may have overwhelming joy when my Son's glory is revealed. You are blessed, for my Spirit rests on you."
In these uncertain times, recognize the blessings that surround you. God holds all of this in his hands and gives us hope even in the face of what may appear hopeless circumstances. Trust him, and as Paul exhorts us, "Rejoice in all things." It's not always easy, but in everything, we can find blessings from God. He loves us and has our best in mind, even when we can't see it.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked CEB are taken from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE (CEB): Scriptures taken from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE copyright© 2011, 2012. Used by permission.