Have you ever asked that question? You have a problem in life. A sad thing has occurred. You’re faced with sorrow or confusion. And the future seems uncertain. Now what are you going to do? Are the best days behind you and only gloomy days ahead? And whose fault is it anyway? Finally, you feel yourself looking heavenward, “God, why would you let this happen?!”
I’m guessing that you don’t have to look far in life to find examples of such times. Yet, looking back, you probably find yourself humbled at the hand of God’s blessing that is obvious in hindsight. He surely does work things out for our good. In John 9, the disciples came across a man with a burden to bear and they asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither ... but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”, was Jesus’ reply. Yes, not only does our Lord work things out for the good of his people, but he also causes his saving name to be glorified through the lives of his believers – including through the challenges they both face and handle by relying on his promises!
We have a current local example of an occurrence that could cause the question, “Why would God let this happen?” Our congregation and our sister congregation across town have had a long working relationship in Christian education. Our sister congregation owns a Christian school. Since the founding of our own congregation 74 years ago, they have invited and welcomed our students and also welcomed our participation as partners in the financial support, decision making and even supplying of teachers in the school. I know I can speak for all the members of our church in saying, “Thank you! We have appreciated this partnership all these years, and our families have been blessed!”
At this time in history, however, our sister congregation feels it best to consolidate full control of the school in their church. By vote of their congregation, the partnership has been dissolved – effective after this coming school year. Our parents would still be welcome and invited to use the school under the new arrangement. But, partnership with other congregations like ours is something that their church feels is no longer in their best interest. Respectfully, we recognize their prerogative to do what’s best for their own ministry. But, it comes as no surprise that the members of our congregation, who have long cherished the school as part of our ministry as well, are faced with sorrow or confusion. Is the future uncertain for us in Christian education? Now what are we going to do? Are the best days behind us and only gloomy days ahead? Why would God let this happen?
To bless us, that’s why! He promises to work out all things for the good of those who love him. There is only blessing in the life of a Christian. That’s only by his grace. We are sinners. But loved by God and saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we live in a state of grace in which our God constantly blesses us. And, to glorify his name, that’s why! His name will be honored in both of our congregations when we trust his promise of blessing and move forward confidently to continue to proclaim the saving name of Christ in our community and to our children!
So, fellow believers in our town, let’s do that! May God help us to put our confidence in him and step forward boldly to do what we know he wants us to do – “Go and make disciples”, through Word and Sacrament, as he commissions us in Matthew 28!
The pastors in town have met this week and we agree that one thing doesn’t change: we are committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus to our children. In fact, we are recommitted! “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done … so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God …” (Psalm 78)
We understand that things will change in the future. After this next year, we will not be walking together in the same way as partners in Christian education as we have in the past. But, make no mistake, our two congregations are walking together as partners in the faith and in the mission of spreading the Gospel in our community. And that’s a great blessing of God!
But, now, what do we do??? “Tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord”, that’s what we’ll do! Let’s explore the possibilities! And there are possibilities – even exciting possibilities to recommit and enhance our own mission of educating our youth in the Word. Not only do we not have a choice, but we also have opportunities. So let’s explore, in faith and without discouragement. We owe that – in thanksgiving - to the Lord who presents us with opportunities, “so that the work of God might be displayed” in our lives. We owe that to our families who have children being raised up in the faith. We owe that to our community. That’s why we exist as a church. And our God, who does all things well, will bless!
Finally, look back on those times in life when you asked, “Why, God?” And from a distance you now see that your Savior had all things well in hand and had your welfare in mind. If you have any such instances now when you’re asking the same question, then trust that the same Savior is there as “an ever present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46) And, when we gather together as a Christian family in our congregation and strive to carry out the Lord’s work, we’ll remember too - and we’ll trust and we’ll move forward in faith – even with a bounce in our step. The Lord is good, and that doesn’t change!
Blessings in Christ,