Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Are You?

When I got up this morning I wasn't ready for my class so I decided to stop at the Wayzata "Park and Ride" and take the #674 express bus to downtown Minneapolis.  That way I could do my assigned reading en route.

After class I walked back downtown and had 20 minutes to wait.  I stepped into the Young Quinlan building for a coffee and was greeted with what seemed to be a very sincere "How are you?" from an employee doing some cleaning in the lobby.  I stopped and said, "Honestly, I'm feeling very well.  How are you?"  And the employee smiled back with "I'm just fine."

I could honestly say that today.  I was feeling fine.  I'm feeling quite good right now--physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I'm feeling that way more often than not these days.  Thankfulness overflows. That's true even though many things in my life are very uncertain--and much of this uncertainty affects others, including many I am responsible for.

Is that fair?  Many would say it's not. What right do I have to say I'm doing okay when I'm still living under a temporary support agreement five months after my resignation as pastor?  How can I be feeling fine when I should perhaps be worried about what will happen when that agreement runs out next month?  Oh, yes, I am working on many things.  I've filled out many applications for this and that and have more to do.  I'm not just sitting around.  Still, I wonder how others might feel if they spoke their minds or hearts.  "Why does he feel so blessed?"  "It's not fair."

The shoe has been on the other foot.  During the last year and a half there have been days and weeks and months of almost unbearable emotional (and I say spiritual) pain.  That's been true for me and for others as well.  I think it's because many, like me, have truly felt that we had been doing right and ended up getting put down for it.  We don't like that.  We sinful human beings want to get credit for doing good.  We don't want to be forgotten, neglected or turned away.  When we do right--especially when we do what we have very good reason to think is right in God's sight, according to God's Word, in line with God's purposes-- When we do right we want to have some kind of reward.  We want to see good results.  We don't want to feel like we've done good for no reason.  And when there are no good results for good actions, at least not that we experience in an obvious way, we cry and shout or groan, "It's Not Fair."

Many who suffer can understand.

How do I deal with this?  I don't have time or energy to get into it deeply tonight, but something has happened in my relationship with God, especially in the last 18 months... something has happened so I can say, most days -- at least I'm beginning to be able to say--with Paul the Apostle,
"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13)
The secret, I believe, is the presence of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and also, the sense that, ultimately, everything is under the mighty and perfect control of God.  I am beginning to trust that God is doing what is best in the midst of all circumstances.  And this growing faith is truly the source of peace, even when things aren't fair.  That, and the presence of those who also trust God and who love and pray for me, that has gotten me through.

But know this--even if you are not at peace tonight--and even if you are, as I have so often before--even if you are screaming at God to DO SOMETHING about the painful circumstances you are in -- Know this: God will not reject you even if you are not at peace.  Even in your pain, even in your questions, even in your faith that is shaken to the bone, even when nothing is fair and you're ready to quit: God will not abandon you.  He understands.  I know this because that is what he experienced himself on the cross.

But Jesus' cross was not the end.  And your pain will not be your end either.  When all is said and done, God will get the victory.  Hallelujah.  And that is the truth..

One thing is true for me though--and I think this is just how God works in most cases: We need each other to hold onto that truth.  Please don't try to find this kind of faith all alone.

May the peace the passes understanding be with you tonight in Jesus' name.


  1. "When it's all been said and done, there is just one thing that matters. Did I do my best to live for truth, did I live my life for you?" Robin Mark & Don Moen sing this. Steve, you should "feel good", by leaving ELC you did what was right. Your patience during this uncertainty has not gone unnoticed. By the way, did you get your assigned reading done on the #674 bus?

  2. Thank you, Kathy. And, I got MOST but not all of the reading done. I was talking with my son Dan this morning and he amazed me with all the reading he is doing. I'm not as quick as him.