September 1, 2021

Paul in his epistles tells us this is Philippians 4:4:  “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice!”  To be honest, as I am laid up with some type of virus (not sure Covid, but waiting for test results) AND as I listen to the recent world news on Afghanistan AND listen to all the latest “woes” here within the USA, I am tempted to play the role of Ebenezzar Scrooge, a fictional British sour businessman in Dickens novel, The Christmas Carol.  He used to say: “Bah, humbug” when others greeted him with the phrase, “Merry Christmas“, Mr. Scrooge!  BUT, Paul does not seem to have any qualifiers on maintaining a disposition of joy. Joy of course, is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16). My good friend in Salzburg (Austria), Franz Hasenrader, has lifted me out of the slough of despond more than once and told me last year in a letter this thought (paraphrase):  “Johnny, even when things look quite bleak on this earth, don’t allow the surrounding spiritual evil in this world block you from seeing God’s saving hand of light amidst His creationFor no matter how dark it becomes, even a sliver of God’s light is always present; you just have to look for it.” This “sliver of God’s saving work” is always present; we just have to have a keen discerning eye to observe it. If we look at life this way, we can find a way to be thankful to God and rejoice, even amidst this life’s worldly darkness. I hear, as you do, of the Afghans being executed in Kabul and elsewhere. That angers all of us!  Yet, in Christian history, bloodthirsty regimes do eventually come to an end, one way or another. Furthermore, as Christians shelter together in apartments to pray and encourage one another, they can find comfort there is another kingdom to come, one where God will rule in peace, where His glory will fill the earth. Let us be prayerful of our brothers and sisters in far away lands who often suffer for their faith.  In all the dark far away lands where we serve His church, God’s saving hand is working. We just have to look for it. That is true here in the USA as well, as we experience a particularly dark time as American believers. Let us determine to look on the horizon of God’s Kingdom to come and find His joy, even amidst the darkness. Thank you very much for your gifts to God’s saints around the world!  Your gift enables us to keep on giving to the most needy places in our world. Yes, we will rejoice; for His saving Hand is still working even amidst all the false religious systems and blood thirsty regimes on this earth. God is building His church and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it!   

In His grace,