From the Pastors' Desks

Trials

Ok, this is harder than I expected. I’m confident that we are on the right course, as a church. I’m delighted by reports of faith and love and good deeds in the body. By God’s grace, I think we are doing OK and I fully expect we will come out of this a better church. I really do. But MAN do I miss being the gathered body of Christ!
 
So, I’m writing this for my benefit – and I hope it may bless you as well. (Thanks to Dan Block for sending me the Owen material!)
 
Just as there are three basic rules to real estate, there are three basic rules to peace of mind in hard times: Perspective, perspective, perspective.
 
John Fesko, in the most recent issue of New Horizons (May 2020), reminds us of the trials the believers in London faced in the mid-17th century. It’s really something. Here’s a summary:
 
  • 1618-1648: The 30 Years War left 8 million dead. “One Lutheran minister wrote in 1639 that of his one-thousand-member church, only a third remained a decade later.”
  • 1642-1651: The English Civil War killed 7% of the population. The current US equivalent would be 23 million people dead.
  • 1646-1661: 10 out of 16 years produced a poor or failed harvest, sending food prices skyrocketing. People died of hunger.
  • 1664: The Black Plague killed more than 100,000 in London. 15,000 died in one week.  
  • 1666: The Great Fire of London destroyed 84 churches and 13,000 homes; leaving 80,000 people homeless in a span of three days.
 
In light of all these calamities, read these words from John Owen (1616-1683), a pastor and theologian who lived through all of this! He wrote the following reflection on Psalm 130 sometime in the mid 1660s (the Black Plague and London Fire). At this stage of his life, Owen had also suffered tremendous personal losses: Of his 11 children, only one lived beyond childhood - a daughter who had returned home after a failed marriage, only to die of tuberculosis some time later.
 
Owen is reflecting on Psalm 130:5-6:

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope;
 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
"

In his comments, Owens gives a number of reasons why we should be willing to “wait” for the Lord - including great confidence in the vast and perfect wisdom of God.
 
“The wisdom of God is to be considered and submitted to. God sees and knows all things, in all of their causes, effects, consequences, and circumstances, in their utmost reach and tendency, in their correspondence one to another and suitableness unto His own glory; and so alone judges all things aright. We see little and know little of very little and that in an imperfect way. What is good for us or the church of God, what is evil to it or us, we know not at all; but all things are open and naked unto God. The day will come, wherein we shall have such an understanding of the works of God, that we shall see that nothing could have been otherwise without an abridgment of His glory and disadvantage to them that believe in Him.
 
All our wisdom consists in trusting all things unto Him. He knows what he is doing, and why, and what will be the end of it all. We tend to think that at such seasons (of crisis) all things will go to wreck with ourselves, with the church, or with the whole world. Peace is gone, trade is gone, our substance is gone, the church is gone - all is gone. Confusion and utter desolation lie at the door. We are indeed in a storm - the whole earth seems to reel and stagger like a drunken man. Yet our souls may rest in the infinite skill and wisdom of the great Pilot of all creation, who steers all things according to the counsel of his will. . . In thoughts thereof, in humbling ourselves thereunto, we shall find rest and peace; and this in all our pressures will move us to wait for Him.”
 
May God grant us this precious gift of perspective – seeing our current trials in their proper historical and Biblical light – and thus willing to wait for Him!   
 

Pastor Dale

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