These are tough and even agonizing times that we are living through right now. As individuals, families, faith communities, nation, and world we are in the midst of the kind of major historical events that will be written about and considered for years to come. Yet we are living this history right now, laboring through it and seeking to understand from day to day what we should be doing and what this all means; for family, faith community, nation, and world.
We as Church and people of striving faith are desperately needed during these times; to hold space for the tough questions raised and wrestling and interpreting needed. Now, more than ever, we need communities like Redeemer for worship, for Bible Study, to guide and direct our efforts to help the wider community and world, and for laughter at coffee hour and Community Fun Nights. We may be moving in virtual territories now, but the real connections and depth of relationships being built by Christ among us for the sake of the world are more vibrant than ever, thanks be to God.
Most of us have probably heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I wonder, however, if as Christians we might be better served by a slogan such as “When the going gets tough, let’s remember Jesus is tougher.”
First of all, this new slogan reminds us where the source of true strength originates: Jesus. This is our Good Shepherd, the one who came “to give life, and to give life abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Second, this new slogan might also help guard us against the unhelpful and perhaps even harmful notion that when faced with struggles, we simply need to “toughen up” in order to succeed. In reality, when faced with struggles, we may find that the road to true strength and healing and hope comes not from “toughening up,” but from seeing that these struggles invite us to plumb the depths of our vulnerability, as well as admitting to our shortcomings and struggling. Perhaps there, in the midst of our seeming poverty, we may even be more likely to discover Jesus who is busy discovering us; Jesus, the source of true strength; Jesus, the One True God tough enough to take on the world’s problems and sins and our problems and sins and through vulnerability on the cross, triumph over death and the grave and all of our struggles.
This Jesus is our true strength. This Good Shepherd is our confidence for every storm and struggle, including this global pandemic through which we are currently living. And as we continue to learn how to be a community of faith during this time we will have our fits and starts, failures and successes, but we will persevere and carry onward. Not because we are “tough” enough, but because the endeavor of sharing the gospel for the world is too important not to continue, and because Christ our Good Shepherd is tougher than all of our challenges put together.