We are living in very challenging days. Discernment of God’s will is even more challenging than before. Voices all around us declare that we must do this while others, full of the same confidence and zeal, tell us to do exactly the opposite. Yes, we are living in challenging times. What are we going to do? How much more can we withstand? Those living in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s were also living in challenging times. Voices were all around them telling them what to do as well. Within that context, these words of advice came from a voice of reason, clarity and faith. I share them with you today:
“The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy. May God in His mercy lead us through these times; but above all, may He lead us to Himself.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
All of us, I think, know someone who is very worried and anxious about these troubling times. Whether they worry about the economy, the pandemic, civil unrest and lawlessness, the need for a listening ear and a calming ministry of presence is even more essential than ever. Read these words of advice:
“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
WE need to listen twice as much as we speak. My grandma told me that is why God gave me two ears but only one mouth. This is very hard advice for me to follow. My 2nd grade report card comment section said this from Mrs. Sackreiter, “Jerod has too much to say and not enough time with which to say it.” Listening to others is an essential part of our witness to Christ. Listening to those with whom we agree and have much in common.Especially important to the Christian is listening to those with whom we disagree.
All of us have come to our conclusions on any given topic from a very unique perspective. We have lost our ability for caring about other perspectives. We need to revisit the concept of agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable. I have very strong personal convictions and beliefs but that does not mean that I must dislike those with whom I hold different beliefs. Here is some more advice regarding that part of life.
“God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We can live our lives with the full knowledge and assurance that even though our times are unsure and uncertain as to the future ahead, God has promised us the one true thing that matters, the salvation that has been secured by the work of Jesus on the cross. God made the sun to shine on the good as well as the wicked. The rain falls on their crops as well as ours. We are not called to judge others, just to love them and show the world that we are a new creation because of the work that God has done and is doing with us and our lives.
May God bless and keep you during these challenging days.