Christians in the Arms of a Loving God
In the summer of 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached one of the most influential sermons in the history of Christendom. This sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” was a key catalyst for the First Great Awakening to take place in the American colonies, and planted evangelicalism on the map as a crucial feature of Protestant Christianity that transcends denominationalism. Countless words have been written about this sermon and its impact, but no more will stem from here.
This year has been full of unimaginable change, grief, disruption, and loss. As a church, we have been prevented from gathering together as a community, engaging in mission without hindrance, and partaking in the sacraments weekly, just to name a few things. We have not been able to gather as a full body, our children have not gotten to grow and play with one another, and we have had to pare down the ways in which we celebrate our community. Harsh reality sets in when I think that the first time my youngest son Jonah will ever step foot in a Crosstown nursery, he will be walking in on his own two feet.
Christians, as the world seems to crash around us and the sadness grows as we spend holidays without one another, I feel compelled to proclaim good news. Brothers and sisters, we are Christians in the arms of a loving God.
In 1 Kings 19:1-18 we see a man that is at the end of his rope. He is exhausted to the point of despair and wants nothing more than to give up. Sound familiar? However, in his bountiful grace and mercy, God reaches down and meets his beloved child in the depths of despair and restores him, fully and completely. This is no partial restoration or temporary encouragement, but instead a reminder that God is a powerful and holy God. God does not tell Elijah to suck it up, nor does he minimize his situation, but instead he provides for Elijah’s most basic needs (never underestimate the power of a meal and a nap), and then he reminds Elijah that he is a loving God on his throne and that he keeps his promise that he will never leave nor forsake those he has redeemed (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Elijah is desperate, despairing, and defeated, just as many of us are in these moments as we enter the holiday season at the height of a crippling pandemic. Be encouraged, my brothers and sisters, because we are Christians in the arms of a loving God. There is no tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus (Romans 8:35-39), and that includes a pandemic. Take joy in your salvation, in the promise of restoration, and in the arms of the Good Shepherd that has already laid down his life so that we may live, and find comfort, in him.