From the Pastor’s Heart

A Note of Grace on Deuteronomy 2:7


Surely the LORD your GOD has been with you in all your undertakings; he knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your GOD has been with you; you have lacked nothing.


The words from this special verse from the continuous reading for January 2018 in Deuteronomy has touched my heart. Because we as a congregation were also privileged to experience that God has been with us in all our undertakings, not only in the past year but in all the many years that we have existed as a Lutheran congregation in Port Elizabeth. GOD, in the same manner that HE has lead and sustained His people Israel in the desert all those years, has also lead and sustained us, His congregation in the many years of our existence. I find, that these words in Deuteronomy are wonderful and promising words that can give us courage and strength also for this new year ahead of us, as we continue on our journey together “in the wilderness”.

It is apparent that the people of Israel have often given their feelings of fear and worry more credit than they did the GOD who has faithfully been at their side and has time and again blessed them on their way. It was very characteristic of the people of Israel to listen first to the voices of fear and worry; also to the voice of its own strength and ability. They did not orientate themselves according to the experiences they have made with God’s faithfulness and His strong arm saving and helping them, time and again. How many detours had to be made, how much suffering to be endured, because they did not listen to God and trust in His Word? Is this not also the case in our own lives as individuals and in our congregational life too? How much of God’s protection and care did we experience and yet have mistrusted? We have had our fair share of difficulties, worries and concerns, and when these threaten to overtake us, our memories of God’s faithfulness tend to be rather short.

What is wonderful about this verse in Deuteronomy 2:7 and in fact the whole of chapter 2 is that as you read it, it becomes clear, that GOD goes after us even and especially in times when we are facing difficulties, even when these difficulties come to pass by our own fault.

 That is really amazing to me! And it is a wonderful comfort as well as a great encouragement for us: God does not let go of us or His promises for us. He sticks by us, even when we mess up! In the German translation verse 7b reads: God has taken your great wandering through the wilderness to heart!

God not only knows about our difficulties in life and in faith, He even takes them to heart. That means no difficulty or struggle that we go through is “for nothing”, or “meaningless”, or “aimless” when GOD is in it with us. True, we might wander along some detours and suffer the consequences, but even those experiences GOD is able to turn around into blessing and growth. That is what He has done for Israel in the wilderness. That is what He does for us even to this day.

We have all the more reason to trust in GOD’s ongoing faithfulness, since Jesus Christ came on the scene and is now the One who walks beside us on our journey through this “wilderness” we call life. Christ has already reached the destination for us. In fact, Christ is our destination! Our fallibilities and failures are not what define us and they are not decisive. The decisive factor in our personal lives and in our congregational life is GOD’S FAITHFULNESS! It is GOD’s Faithfulness that will lead us onward on our journey also in this new year and the same faithfulness will bring us closer to the goal. Let us be men, women and children of HOPE, and steadfastly continue to ask GOD to strengthen our faith, our courage and our hope in His Word. He knows about our going through this great wilderness. Surely, the God who has been with us in all our undertakings knows what we need for the next leg of our journey and will continue to journey with us. 

Prayer: Lord, our God, thank you for taking our journey on your heart and that you promise to bring us to the goal through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, - not because of us, but in spite of us and because of You and your great Faithfulness. Strengthen our faith in your Word, that you are always with us and that you will continue to lead and guide us in your steadfast love and grace.  Amen.  

Yours in Christ,