Sunday, October 10, 2010

Being in Exile; Saying Thank You

Have you been listening to the news reports about the men trapped in the mine in Chile? Just for a little while this morning, imagine that you’re one of those miners. You’re alive and not injured but you’ve just learned that you’re not going to see day light, or your family, for awhile yet.

You’re in exile. You’ve received messages from above telling you that help is on the way. You might even be able to hear the sounds of the drill. And you remember God’s word that says, “Give thanks in all things.” And you hear God’s word through the prophet Jeremiah to make the best of the situation where you are because God is there too.

Okay, your there, it’s hot, it’s dirty, and you’ve been with the same smelly people for 67 days. How are you doing? How is your faith? Do you believe that God is with you in this foreign place? Are you really thankful for God’s blessings?

Good friends, you’re not really in that mine but imagine what that must be like for those miners, and their families. Do they really trust those who are doing the drilling? Are they still hopeful? Do they believe that God is there with them?

It’s hard to be thankful in situations like this. None of us are in that mine in Chile but we may, never the less, be in exile. Where we are right now today may not be the place that we really want to be; this may not be our home. And even if we are home we might not be physically able to enjoy it like we used to. Are we still able to remain thankful for God’s providence?

Even when we find it so very difficult to find the good in bad situations what happens to our soul when we are thankful for the infinitesimal blessings that come our way. Does our outlook change? Is the sun just little brighter? Does God seem a little closer?

What if every day when your eyes opened after a night’s rest you still didn’t feel God’s presence, would you still be thankful for God’s blessings? Would you still have hope if every day you prayed for just a little bit of joy and it never came? Can we still feel love when our prayers don’t seem to be answered the way we think they should? Someone we love dearly is still in pain and there’s absolutely nothing we can do for them but pray, do we still have hope, are we still thankful?

How did Paul and the other apostles keep their faith when they were in chains in jail, beaten and ridiculed for being followers of the Way of Jesus? How is it possible for any of us to relate to what that must have been like?

Friends, we are so blessed because we live where we do and have the advantages that many in the world have never experienced. And we take it all for granted. Do we remember to say thanks? How do we share our blessings? How are we encountering God where we are? Where’s the healing for us in all this? Have we been healed and haven’t noticed?

Do we sing praises to God everyday like the psalmist? I don’t know about you but I think we’re more like the nine lepers who were healed and never turned around and thanked Jesus. Yes, the leprosy was gone but what was the condition of their souls?

We may be blessed, we may be healed, but what’s the condition of our souls? Have we remembered to thank Jesus?

Jesus and Paul have both given us words to meditate on for this week. Paul said, “10 So I patiently accept all these troubles so that those whom God has chosen can have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. With that salvation comes glory that never ends.

11 This teaching is true:

If we died with him, we will also live with him.

12 If we accept suffering, we will also rule with him.

If we say we don't know him, he will say he doesn't know us.

13 If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful,

because he must be true to who he is.

A Worker Pleasing to God

14 Continue teaching these things, warning people in God's presence not to argue about words. It does not help anyone, and it ruins those who listen. 15 Make every effort to give yourself to God as the kind of person he will approve. Be a worker who is not ashamed and who uses the true teaching in the right way.”

And Jesus told the Samaritan leper, "Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

We are here to do the work God has called us to do. We are to accept what we’ve been given and continue sharing God’s love with everyone we meet so that they are able to experience salvation through Jesus Christ. May our little faith build up someone else’s faith so they can be healed and have joy in their hearts.

Friends, let’s decide this day to return to Jesus and fall on our knees and give him thanks for our healing. Let’s decide today to continue to teach people about Jesus and God and what salvation means to us. Let’s work to free them from their exile

Thanks be to God for his loving, forgiving grace. Amen.

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