From the Pastor’s Heart
Thoughts on the watchword for the month of November 2019
What do we do when God seems to be far off or absent? What do we do when the world seems to be left over to evil? What to do when pain and suffering screams to high heaven? These are the difficult questions asked by the book Job. And it mentions answers that are familiar to us today too: "Forsake God and die!" is what Job’s wife suggests he must do. When life becomes unbearable, death will be a welcome redemption. "There must be some purpose for your suffering”, is what Job's friends said to him. Job, the tormented man himself, is less sensible. He says, "I know that my Redeemer lives."
He insists that God's righteousness and faithfulness will prevail. Is it Job's faith and strength that make him believe so convincingly? Or is it God's faithfulness that does not leave him alone even in the deepest experience of suffering? In the end, as we know if we’ve dared to read the book of Job, God vindicates Job, just as God vindicated the Crucified One on Easter morning. By dying on the cross and through His resurrection, God Himself has defeated death through Jesus Christ, His Son. Moreover, in the death and suffering of Jesus Christ, God enters and meets us in our suffering. This is one of the deepest mysteries of faith that neither thoughts nor words can comprehend or describe. But by suffering and dying for us, God is an intricate and compassionate part of our suffering, not far removed from it. And in this way, Jesus Christ became for us - our Redeemer. Death, and the fear of dying, sometimes even the desire to die, will always afflict us. There will always be addictions, humiliations and many fears that make life unbearable. There is no recipe or method that is guaranteed to get us out of trouble.
But there is definitely a God who reveals himself to us again and again as our Redeemer, a God who repeatedly gives us a reason to carry on and helps us to live a life of inner freedom and peace. This knowledge is not something that we possess, but it is a gift that we receive again and again with each and every new day, and sometimes even from one moment to the next. God does not forsake us, even if we forsake God or feel we have been forsaken by God and can no longer believe in His goodness and care. God will vindicate us where everything else seems to deny us of our rights; He comes alongside us when we feel alone and abandoned. This is not something that we can tell ourselves. It is God's Spirit that reminds us time and again that God, in and through Jesus Christ, can no longer, under no circumstances, leave us alone or abandoned. And it is the same Spirit of God that moves us to this realization, in order for us to be able to also say and repeat with Job: Even if I know nothing else... but, "I know that my Redeemer lives." Especially as we will soon enter the season of Advent we are reminded again: Without our doing, God's light comes to meet us right where we are…
God, let your light shine. Shine into our darkness - the darkness of our lives and the darkness of this world. Light up destructive thoughts and deeds and lead us to the light of your Son, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.