A Message of Hope

Thoughts from Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Jeremiah 29:11

 

This morning’s prayer call provided insight on how personal this COVID-19 pandemic is. In addition, to the two of us who have relatives quarantined, we now have a member of the Church family whose son is dealing with the virus. Our hopes and prayers are with him. These are challenging times and if we have ever experienced a period in our lives where the need to be bonded together in love of neighbor, this is it. Our acts of social distancing should not feel like self-imprisonment, but rather, acts and deeds of self-love and love of neighbor. Remember the Christian faith is based on the Christ-Centered Love Ethic; loving God, loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

We are not alone in our concerns and prayers. Later Tuesday morning I was on a call with members of my Doctoral Cohort. They are Pastors from across the Country. One member reported the death of a family member in New York taken by this virus. Another talked about his struggle with his very being and his questioning of God. He is frozen! He can’t rest. He can’t think, he is living in fear because of his asthma. In theological terms he is living an ontological nightmare. He fears for his life! Yes, Church, preachers need Pastors, too. Yes, Pastors have their own issues and at times fear is one of them. Another noted that she has been spending a great deal of time dealing with ministers who are experiencing similar issues. Again, this is a challenging time.

 

Yet, as I come to you today, I come as one offering hope. Just as the Seventh Century BCE prophet Jeremiah wrote to those who were in exile, God is still speaking and I offer his words to you.

 

Think about it. Jeremiah wrote the people who were taken away from the places they knew. They could not worship in the Temple. They could not visit their families and friends. Their everyday practices were interrupted. Not only were they to stay at home, but home was also a new place away from everything they had come to value. Perhaps they never knew how much they valued the fellowship of the Temple until they could go there no more. God inspired Jeremiah to write them; to offer a word of encouragement, a word of hope.

 

Just as then, these are difficult times, but I remind you God is still in charge. God understands our plight and he knows our challenges. He is still right here with us. Just as Jesus was all in for the Cross, God is still all in for us. His plans are not to harm us. We can not do those things that will harm ourselves or our families. God called for the welfare of the City, for in it we will find our welfare (Jeremiah 29:7). This is critical. For our community to be well, we must practice social distancing because our wellness is tied to the community’s wellness. Yes, we are all in this together.

 

But do not fear. God’s word was true then and it is still true now. God has a plan for us. A plan for us to prosper, a plan for us to have hope and to have a future. Our brief exile will one day be looked upon as another victory for Christ. We shall overcome. In the meanwhile, understand that God is still speaking. Find time to listen. Find time to pray. Find time to enjoy those around you. Find the simple blessings in the midst of this storm. Keep the faith, for all our hope is in Jesus. Blessings!

 

Pastor Jones