As a world, the events – things like disease, war and conflict, mass shootings, political unrest, economic challenges – of the past few years have caused many of us to feel like it has been a continual wilderness . As a parish what we once knew is changing through our integration into a family of parishes and how we worship. Individually, we may be experiencing grief, anxiety, illness, the loss of work, mental health challenges, loneliness, depression which may cause another personal wilderness.
This wilderness, our time of seeking the voice of God has perhaps changed into more of a time of worry and anxiety. As we continue to face times of uncertainty, remember we are each followers of Christ and can be calm in our community’s storm. We may be worried ourselves, but let us take to heart the promises of hope that God has given us in His Word. Just as Jesus was tested in the wilderness, we are being tested. Will we hold fast to the truths we know and hold dear or will we succumb to fear?
This Lent as a parish we will make a journey from Wilderness to Hope. Scripture tells us “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Because of our faith in Jesus, we can have peace, and we can boast in these sufferings, why? Because suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces what? HOPE! And hope does not disappoint us. We need to go through the wilderness, the hard times so we can cling more to our God and see with our own eyes that God will see us through to the other side of this crisis.
We may feel lost in the midst these times we are living in, but we can take refuge in God’s Word. Deuteronomy says “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. God will never leave you or forsake you.”
Let us continue to look for that budding flower in the desert. The spring that will come after our winter. Isaiah says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” We may not be able to see what God has planned for our lives or the future of our world just at this very moment, but God promises that God will bring us through.
This lent can we take our focus off of our individual needs and focus on how powerful God is? Perhaps, our troubles may disappear in God’s presence bringing us a renewed hope. Can we confidently journey from wilderness to hope confident that whatever problem we may be facing we are not facing it alone?
So, let’s make a choice to stop looking at the “mountain” we face and start looking at Jesus. Stay focused on who He is, and stand on God’s Word no matter what we see happening around us. Let us ask God to give us a new perspective, showing us who God is and who we are in Christ. Our God is the Creator of the universe, and we are God’s workmanship, God’s child, and the love of God’s life. God will never let us go, not even in times of uncertainty. Let us choose to cling tightly to our Beloved Creator, from whom comes all our help and hope.