Proverbs 4: 10-18
John 14: 1-14
Uncertain times. How more accurately could our present situation be described? Everyday brings news of one state governor decreeing a relaxation of person-to-person contact regulations. Another decrees no relaxing at all; the status quo is sufficient for now. Yet another imposes more stringent limitations and relies on new data from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Who do we trust?
Our dilemma isn't easily resolved. We cannot know from one day to another which statistics are applicable for our daily schedules. The statistics and the decrees change frequently. We arrange our lives with an eye to a date in the future when we hope we can relax and return to normal, then they change again. Not being able to depend on our elected leaders for consistent and reliable advice is disconcerting, to say the least.
There are some who think the government is doing the best it can with what information is available. There are others who think it's far too cautious. Still others assume some level of dishonest intent; even perfidy; from the Latin meaning "treachery, to ill effect; extreme faithlessness." In other words some think our leaders are evil in their intent to control and manipulate this pandemic to their own advantage, be it economic or political.
Human associations are subject to all sorts of manipulations and ulterior intentions by their leaders. It has always been thus. We all know of those who can wring a personal advantage from any confusing situation. But to assume this is the first and most obvious intention when things don't go according to our own view is to be too cynical.
Fear can contribute to misapprehension. Lack of reliable information can do the same. So too can human stubbornness. We find Jesus in the Upper Room on the last night of his life; it's Thursday. In a very short time he will be betrayed, beaten, tried, condemned, and hanged on a cross. The next dozen hours of his life will create dilemmas of startling proportions for the disciples, the Jerusalem religious leaders, the common citizen, and the Roman government.
In that room, before he goes off to pray Jesus tells those present: "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God; believe also in me." Jesus anticipates what will come naturally to his followers after he's betrayed and all the rest. I don't think it's so much that he can predict the future. It's more likely he knows how the improbability of all that will transpire in the coming hours will cause panic and fear in the hearts of his disciples.
He tells them before the fact what to do or better, what not to do: "Let not your hearts be troubled." Don't be afraid; Don't worry. "Believe in God; believe also in me."
The Greek for BELIEVE is equivalent to the Hebrew word TRUST. Trust God. Trust me. Trust. It's what we do when we can't know fully or finally how to proceed. We leap out hoping to be led or caught by someone who can keep us safe; who knows the way.
Jesus asks us to trust him to know that way to safety. He promises a future where we will find a place of rest. It's a place already in waiting for us, by the grace of God. And He, Jesus, goes there to make sure that place belongs to us.
What is waiting is a room in God's heavenly inn. Jesus promises us this room so "where I am, you may also be." Jesus is asking us to trust him to make a place for our eternal abiding that will be in his presence. As he goes to his death, he asks us to trust him that in our life and finally, in our death, we will not be separated from him.
Trust. In this unpredictable time of isolation and uncertainty and fear trust God. Trust Jesus. Trust the promises of God as they have been made across the centuries and have come to us through the prophets. Trust the Word of God that is revealed in Jesus That Word is "the way and the truth and the life."
This pandemic will end. This season of confusion and wariness will not last nor will it have the last word. Take heart and believe. Take heart and trust. This day and every tomorrow. Amen.
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