Someone once said that the challenge of living is to develop a long obedience in the same direction. When it’s demanded, we can rise on occasion and be patient…as long as their are limits. But we balk when patience is required over a long haul. We don’t much like endurance. It’s painful to persevere through a marriage that’s forever struggling. A church that never crests 100 members. Housekeeping routines that never vary from week-to-week. Even caring for an elderly parent or a handicapped child can feel like a long obedience in the same direction.Joni Eareckson Tada, “Holiness in Hidden Places”
If only we could open our spiritual eyes to see the fields of grain we’re planting, growing, and reaping along the way. That’s what happens when we endure…
On March 19 I published a video explaining our plans for the following Sunday—and for an undetermined number of Sundays after. At the time we thought it would be just two Sundays apart, with a return to our gathered assembly on April 12—Easter Sunday. Now we know the earliest we will assemble together again is May 3, though that date is still questionable.
It’s hard to believe we’ve only missed four Sundays of public worship, and I suspect that after a couple more it will truly feel like more than just six weeks.
What is there to do? Well, we pray. We pray and we pray and then we pray some more. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we should pray without ceasing. The problem is, at least for me, I’m a task-oriented guy. I want to do something. I want to engage in “real” ministry. I want to accomplish something.
As the days apart from one another pile up and as we count down the days while knowing full well that our countdown can be restarted with a simple Executive Order, what can we do? We can pray. We want to do something so that we can feel a sense of control, but one thing this pandemic is showing us is we do not have control. So we pray.
When we pray we call upon the one who has control. As Jesus himself said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). So we pray.
Prayer demonstrates that we cannot do something. We cannot control our circumstances. We cannot change things. Prayer demonstrates our faith is in the one to whom we pray, and we know in faith that he can do something and he can control our circumstance and he can change things. We pray to God in the name of Jesus through the power of his Spirit, knowing that we have direct, immediate access to God, the same God who loved us and sent his Son for us, that he might claim us as his own.
So we pray.
As we pray together today, let’s pray for healthcare workers, whether doctors or nurses, whether housekeeping or patient transport. Let’s pray for those in direct contact with sick patients, asking God to protect them. Let’s pray also for our government leaders, for President Trump and Governor Whitmer, for Senators Stabenow and Peters, for Representative Amash. Let’s pray for their wisdom in leading this nation and our state. Let’s pray for those in our church who have lost jobs or have lost income. Let’s pray for God to provide for them, and for their faith to be strengthened and encouraged.
The reality is there is very little we can do, so we pray. One day we will look back on this time and we will discover just how much God has actually accomplished through us.