This past Sunday we began a series in Philippians and I told you that the Gospel must be our main source of joy. Monday, your inbox was inundated with prayer requests of various kinds, many of them connected to COVID in some way. The top news story this week is the toppling of Afghanistan’s government following our exit from the country. It seems that there are lots of reasons not to be joyful.
I’m not blind to reality. I saw the increased use of face masks in our congregation on Sunday. I noticed the extra seats in worship. I sense the frustration and exasperation in your hearts as the continuing conversations surrounding the delta variant, vaccine boosters, and governmental authority wears thin.
I still stand by what I told you Sunday: I don’t believe that “everything happens for a reason.” I believe that “everything that happens can be used for God’s reason,” which is the redemption of the world through the proclamation of the Gospel. One of the challenges given Sunday was to examine your life through a “Gospel lens.” When we do this, the issues and frustrations we have don’t magically go away, but at the very least, they should become much less important.
If your main source of joy is based on your comfort, whether or not you have to wear a mask, or what vaccine may or may not be available for, or endorsed by you, you’re in for a roller coaster. But in the scholarly words of Tracy Lawrence, “time marches on” regardless of our disposition or approval.
As time marches into the fall season, gospel ministry opportunities abound for you and me. The news will forever be challenging our joy by putting one negative story after another in front of us. I can’t tell you that every single thing happens for a reason, especially in these times. What I can tell you, is that everything that happens can be used for God’s reason. Whether or not it will be is up to you and me, and our faithfulness to the Gospel.