Lent 3

March 19, 2017

“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;” from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans.

Last week, I touched on the concept of faith and belief. The Greek word translated to belief is pisteuō, which is also translated to the word faith.

This is more than a casual belief that something exists, but it implies a deep level of trust.
But sometimes trust in something is hard to come by, especially when things don’t go the way we want. An atheist will say what good is belief in a god who does not listen, and does not give you what you want?

There are times when we question God’s purpose in this world. We might wonder what he is really up to. We pray and pray, and the answer is not what we expect, or maybe there is no answer at all.

So, where is God at such a time?

Some say you shouldn’t ask such a question, that it’s disrespectful, but I think it’s ok to ask that question.

The answer is that God is not a great mystical being that grants wishes, or a magician that does parlor tricks.

Our Father works by influencing our hearts and our spirits by the Spirit of Christ within us. For that to be any good we need to be open to his guidance. We all should be open to that guidance, but there are many people in this world who are not.

Many people are too busy trying to manage their own lives, and perhaps even meddling in the lives of others.

Many people care only about what they consider theirs, and care nothing about anyone else. Sometimes it’s downright infuriating.

What are we to do with such people as these? What would Jesus ask us to do? Of course, we know. We could pray that they see the Light of Christ, that their eyes and ears might be opened to the Truth.

More than that, says St. Paul in today’s reading from Romans, we rejoice 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 pour into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

So suffer we must, because we live in a sinful and broken world, but suffering is not the end of it. The ultimate end of suffering is hope that is fulfilled by the love of our heavenly Father. So where is God at a time like this? He is suffering right along side of us, sharing our grief, and sharing his love.

That love is shown to us even though we are sinners who don’t deserve it. In fact, no one deserves it, and yet Christ died on the cross for our redemption. And not just for us, but for the whole world. The Father loves even those who do not love him. And if he loves them, should we not do the same?

Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. When we do that we are truly his children, and the disciples of our Lord Jesus.

It is the Spirit of Christ within us that will see us through all of our trials, and will strengthen us to carry on with the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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