I sometimes get tired of talking about adversity and troubles in life. Don’t you? I’m sure you’re like me and would prefer to always be cheerful and speak only of wonderful things. But as we study the scriptures, this topic cycles back into our field of view every handful of weeks. Life is full of challenges, adversity, and trouble… so I suppose it’s no surprise that God has much to reveal to us on the subject.
There’s someone I want you to meet this Sunday. In addition to the Apostle Peter--on whom we are basing our fall teaching series “Effective Faith”—who was no stranger to adversity, there’s a real-time example right here in our immediate context you need to hear from. I’ll tell you more about him in Deeper Thoughts below…
But first…a few quick items:
· Don’t be late to church this Sunday! We have a baby dedication and a baptism celebration early in the service. This is going to be super-cool!
· Teens – Don’t miss youth group this Sunday night, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. at the church! You’re going to get a deeper dive with the fellow I want you to meet in the morning. Parents—be sure your teenager makes plans to attend. More on this in Deeper Thoughts below.
· We have a brand-new episode in our weekly “Prayer Experiences” video series. Click here to see Jameson Zoller share his journey with prayer. Growing up as the son of our beloved Pastor John, he still had to forge his own journey and experience with powerful prayer. Don’t miss this compelling story!
· NEXT Sunday, November 26, our Sunday worship service will include a really joyful Mt. Hope tradition as we open the floor for testimonies of things God has done in your life. As a part of our Thanksgiving holiday celebration, be thinking of what you could briefly thank God publicly for. So many amazing things have been happening in lives in our church—we want to share with each other as the family of God.
· Ladies…Cookie, Tea, and Craft Celebration – Saturday, December 9 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. RSVP is required by November 22--click here for more info and to sign up!
· Mt. Hope’s Annual Christmas Party and Pageant – Sunday night, December 10 – 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Join us for a delicious potluck dinner and a wonderful Kids Connect dramatic Christmas presentation. More info to come!!
OK…that’s it for you email skimmers and you who never have anything go wrong. Ever. BUT…
Some Deeper Thoughts…
We are really good at trying to dodge adversity, are we not? Oh… and we’ve generally gotten pretty good at not just wanting to dodge it, but in actually dodging it… for the most part.
We live in an incredibly prosperous time in human history. My wife and I were contemplating this earlier this week. We had just received frustrating news that our insurance company had decided a recent fender-bender on our newly debt-free Toyota was a “total loss,” dropping us into the greatly unwanted, excruciating, and toilsome hardship of buying a new…
Wait… we paused. And prayed, “thank you, God, that we live in such a time that our largest first-world frustration is picking out which brand-new SUV to buy with the insurance company’s money…”
Life is not always so burdened with grandiosity. Sometimes the hardships are far more legit.
Take the Apostle Peter, for instance. We’ve been studying his life and letters to discover what “Effective Faith” really looks like. His story, like ours, had a lot of high points and prosperity. But it also had immeasurable pain and suffering—perhaps a tad more than we most often experience here in our Northern Virginian comfort.
On the prosperous side: Peter owned a business. It was a fishing company, and his business partner was a good man and likely a best friend—John, the son of Zebedee. Peter was married; the implications from scripture are that his wife was super-supportive of his impulsive and audacious lifestyle. In spirituality, he had a front-row seat to the greatest spiritual movement in human history, seeing Jesus in all his glory; walking on water right next to him; performing miracles in his name; and getting to preach the kick-off sermon for the largest church planting project ever—the Day of Pentecost and the founding of the Christian religion.
On the suffering side: Peter’s bold faith and outspoken support of Jesus led to more than one round of imprisonment, beating, and unfathomable legal trouble. He had sharp and painful disagreements with his closest allies. He watched every one of his closest friends be tortured and executed. And then ultimately, he himself was tortured and crucified.
That is simply no fun.
It is from that keen experience of legitimate hardship that Peter could write to every Christian who would dare to read his letters that we should “not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though some strange thing were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Hmmm… I’m not sure “overjoyed” really describes my attitude when the heat is turned up.
How about you?
Perhaps your story has some significant and sincere hardship right now. You roll your eyes--and rightly so—at the Eads’ little sorrow over a totaled automobile, as you right now are suffering the truly big stuff. You’re going through a divorce. Or a terrible medical crisis. Or a financial collapse. Or unemployment. Or an estrangement from a loved one. Or a suffocating loneliness and isolation. Or an intractable addiction.
It is different for each one of us. But we all take our turn through the unquestionably difficult seasons of life.
I want you to meet a dear friend of mine this Sunday. He’s going to join me in our teaching time—I’ll open up with some exploration of the scriptures like we do each week, and then I’m going to have you meet David Wickward and hear his story. He is a young man in his twenties that has been profoundly living for Jesus from the context of a lifetime with a significant physical disability. But to meet him, you would never know he is disabled, were it not for the obvious external appearance. His spirit, his faith, his warmth, and his abundant love for Jesus speak profoundly to me. And I know he will speak to you as well.
(And then in the evening, David will be sharing with our teenagers at a special youth group event, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.)
Do a little advance reading before Sunday, will you? Let’s look at what Peter has to say about adversity--1 Peter 3:17—4:19. Also read a bit from Peter’s co-laborer, the Apostle Paul: Romans 5:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 6:4-10.
Oh friends… I know I say this every week. But don’t miss this one. God is going to speak to and shape us all, I promise. Mmmmm…. Gonna be good…
Much love to you all…
Mt. Hope Pastor