Thoughts for Times Like These
My friend and colleague Nathan Prairie has served as the pastor of the Beecher campus of Faith Church for the past 8 years. When he announced in February that he would be transitioning out of his role as pastor in mid-March, he did not plan or foresee that it would be in the middle of a pandemic. In his final week as pastor, he shared some great pastoral wisdom via email with the members and attenders of the campus that I think can benefit all of us in this season we are in with so much uncertainty and challenges. Here are his very wise words:
I want to share a story from the past that has helped me with my perspective in this unprecedented time. My prayer is that it will be an encouragement to you, as well!
My mother was born in Swansea, Wales during World War II. The German Nazis were bombing key cities throughout Great Britain and my mom’s city was targeted because it had a large population with a lot of industry. As Swansea burned from the bombs, it has been said that the nighttime skies would glow from the flames and could be seen from over 50 miles away! Churches were on fire, factories were flattened, businesses were burnt and thousands of homes were damaged, if not, fully destroyed. By the time the bombings ceased and the war was finally over, Mom had grown to be a toddler. In the years following, the damage of the war remained in place. Piles of rubble became “playpens” to be explored. Gas masks were often used for “dress-up”. Waiting in line for food - “rations” as they were called - was routine.
No doubt, my mother grew up in severe poverty by today’s standards. However, she always spoke fondly about her past. In fact, she ABSOLUTELY LOVED her childhood.
- For one thing, her parents lived with a grateful attitude and modeled contentment for the kids. Simplicity was embraced and earthly belongings were held loosely.
- Secondly, her parents had a tangible faith - Jesus was their Lord, their Savior and Provider. My mom grew up knowing that “true riches” could only be found in Jesus Christ.
- Thirdly, my mom used to say (and I can still hear her British accent as I type these words) “I didn’t even know I was poor...because everyone around me was poor!!!” All her neighbors, all her friends, all her classmates had lived through the very same war and experienced the very same conditions together.
Because of these three factors, I can confidently share that my mom believed she had a “rich” upbringing...even though she was “poor”. And that same principle can be experienced in our own lives.Our perspective and our attitude will play a huge role in the way our kids’ react to these trying times. Even our neighbors will observe what we model as they see the satisfaction we have in the gift of life and the salvation God has given us in Jesus Christ!
Now, I certainly don’t want to downplay the challenges we are facing or the reality of hardships all around us. For goodness sake, if the government lowers the number from ten people for gatherings, my wife and I will have to re-home some kids. Any takers? HAHA! :) But we do have a tremendous opportunity to re-prioritize our lives, to thank God for how He’s been faithful to provide for our every need (maybe not all that we want, but what we need!), and to start finding satisfaction in “the simple things”....including this “simple truth” all followers of Jesus must cling to, especially in a time like this:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” - 1 Peter 1:3-7
Friends, I’m not a big fan of hardship, trials and tribulation. But it is good for us to find satisfaction in the simple things again and to know that we are all going through this pandemic together...with Jesus our unfailing guide. May He grant us the perspective we need to find joy and purpose in the coming days!
Much love and continued prayers for you, our country and our world ~