September 17, 2020
A sermon I am writing for Sunday night is about trusting God while we are walking in darkness. Abram in Genesis 15 is coming to the end of his rope of trusting God. He went out on a limb with God, accepting a call and leaving his home country, and now he is wondering if God will really deliver on those promises.
Often I find it hard to write sermons around concepts that I struggle with in my own life. It’s much easier to speak on a topic when I have some distance from it; otherwise I feel as if the sermon meanders around my own struggle for too long, and it’s much, much harder to come up with a conclusion that ties it up neatly in a bow.
And this passage with Abram and God sitting in the darkness together really resonates with me. Abram says, “hey God, you promised me when I left my home that I would be the father of a great nation, and yet my wife and I can’t even conceive. I hate to say this God, but what are you doing?”
Some days I feel like asking this question. We’ve been walking in a darkness for almost seven months. We’re not sure if the sun is going to eventually rise in the east and give us light. And some days I feel like my eyes are used to the darkness, like I’m finally feeling my way in a pandemic, and other days, my assurance falls apart and I hit my shin on a metaphorical coffee table. Some days I find it really hard to feel grateful even with all of these blessings right before my eyes- and I kick myself for it.
You can always count on me to be honest about my faith experiences. And I won’t sugarcoat it- these months of ministry have been incredibly difficult. I miss seeing Calvary folks so much. I miss being with my coworkers in the office. I miss being in the sanctuary for worship, and getting the privilege of looking out at all your faces. I miss hearing the choir sing into my ear during the Offertory. I miss meeting people for coffee or lunch. I miss our little community at The Gathering. I am a pastor, not a producer, and I’m reminded of that every week when we compile a worship video and I nearly lose my religion. And my life doesn’t even come with those added challenges of taking care of a loved one or teaching a child in online school.
I don’t know what your week has been like. Maybe you are able to find gratitude and thankfulness. Maybe it’s been a struggle. But I want to assure you that God does meet you where you are, and God can handle our frustrations, our doubts, and our questions. It’s okay if some days you are like Abram, looking at your life and asking God what is going on. God didn’t bat an eye when Abram was honest with God about his doubts.
An important lesson I have learned is that having doubt doesn’t mean that we’ve lost our faith. Doubt and confidence, bitterness and thankfulness, they are all a part of the natural cycle of being human. And it's important to accept all these feelings and express them to our Creator, who is there to listen. God is always there like a strong undercurrent, holding us up when we don’t even realize it, giving us just enough strength when we feel like we have none. And if some days it feels too much to bear, know that your pastors are a phone call away.
With you in the highs and lows,