By Phares Gilchrist

I have started reading First and Second Kings. Or as I like to call them, the year 2020. The books start out with David on his deathbed, instructing Solomon. He tells Solomon to closely follow God and His carefully delineated plan for Israel, and then they proceed to plot the death and surrender of their enemies. The results of their actions set the stage for years and years of upheaval. They are beleaguered and as a result are weakened in their resolve to live lives set apart as God’s people.

I have to brace myself for what is coming. Such massive capitulation to all God abhors. Idolatry, child sacrifice, treachery. There are some good guys, but they are so spread out in the scheme of things they have no lasting impact on the trajectory of their future and ultimately their history.

The pandemics, financial crisis, and social unrest we are experiencing are not for sissies. It taxes us in every ounce of our being. It is exhausting and has the effect of weighing us down. We have to be vigilant to conform to new and changing social requirements, financial upheaval, and heavy hearts trying to see clearly through the smoke of injustices. We have a polarized country that is polarized with other countries, who are in their own polarizations. 

In the midst of all this, I personally, and you certainly, have had friends and family die, unable to be properly memorialized. My mother was sent to the hospital twice. I cannot visit her in her assisted living facility. We have had a grandson born, and for quite a while, had to limit our exposure to all of our grandchildren. So much joy and loss to process in isolated living.

Then there is the shared experience of having endured so much change in our church community over a sustained length of time. Relationships come and go over these changes. Elders and pastors, committed to doing what is right over the long haul rather than what is expedient and later wrong, carry a burden for each of you without being able to share the details of any one situation.

Each of you has your own personal situations to cope with. Newly married, newly widowed, newly divorced, newly blessed with babies. Some have just moved to town, just started attending church, and some have just started to walk with Christ. 

We all live life in a context. How we live in that context determines the outcome. Pain is both personal and relative. My pain is not the measure of all pain, nor is yours. But it can produce a unity that makes it hard for pandemics, financial difficulty, and social ills to defeat us. Being beleaguered causes me to want to fight for what is good, or as Paul said to Timothy:

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. — I Timothy 6:12 NIV

This is when we, who know Christ, have the advantage. We are able to submit ourselves to the author and perfecter of our faith. We have the power in Christ to rise to the occasion, to demonstrate His unique ability to conquer death and fear. How often will this happen? How often will we be able to demonstrate to those watching, including children and friends, that we are more than conquerors who are in Christ Jesus?

We won’t do this perfectly. But if we all commit to it together, when one falters, ten others are there to step up and help carry the load. 

I commit. Lord, help me in my commitment.

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