BY REV. LON LEWIS
SPIRIT LAKE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you." -- 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (RSV)
Those words of the Apostle Paul are so powerful and offer such hope and faith. What a challenge it has been for so many of late due to the weather, violence in our nation and throughout the world, illness, the loss of loved ones, and on and on. Some days it is a blessing just to "keep our heads above the water," and I say that almost in a literal way!
Maybe you are feeling this, or maybe you just wonder how to respond in love to people who are experiencing great challenges at the moment. Know that there is always a new hope and a new future that awaits us, on this earth, and beyond. The things we face in life will not defeat us and our struggles and challenges do not have the final word.
Many years ago, an old friend of mine shared that whenever and however he could he tried to model Jesus' example of reaching out to hurting people with a "non-anxious presence," not surrendering to despair and heartbreak, but instead offering Jesus' love and hope and encouragement for the days ahead.
Jesus modeled the idea of "non-anxious presence" for his disciples and for us. He never gave in to despair and hopelessness and always offered a "non-anxious presence" of love and grace and hope and wholeness and new life to those who were in the midst of suffering and hurt.
As we see so much suffering and hardship due to the recent and continuing flooding in Iowa, as we look at the pain and despair so many in our world live with every day, it would be easy to give in to despair and anger and bitterness -- but those things will not be victorious. God is our light and our salvation and the stronghold of our lives and God will never leave our side. That knowledge and faith is what allows us to respond in love and ministry, without being consumed and destroyed by despair as we offer the love of Christ.
May you always feel the strong love and grace of God in Jesus Christ as we pass through the waters of suffering, strong in our faith. Let us walk the journey of life and faith together, knowing that we are never alone!