by Rev. Dr. Paul Winningham, Missouri District Church Worker Care Team
The things you do day after day tend to become routine. And with routine comes the temptation to treat these things lightly. Light treatment can easily become casual, which can morph into disregard, descending into contempt and cynicism. All who seek to do the Lord’s work must guard ourselves from these, for they are polar opposites to the peace, joy and encouragement Christ seeks to give us.
Whether you are a teacher, DCE, Deaconess or Pastor, (or none of the aforementioned, you just happened to encounter this article!) we are all tempted to give in to this downhill slope. And the forces against you are strong! After all, there is the devil, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy! He would love to throw God’s work into disarray and confusion, bringing it to ruin! And then there is the world: you know, things like workload, time pressures, the stress of deadlines, scheduling, financial or health issues, and more. Maybe it even seems like your service is done in obscurity, and we are tempted to wonder if any of it matters. Now toss in the facts of your own flesh and its weakness, limitations, temptations, and inclinations. It is enough to drive us to despair!
For some, the answer is to take it more seriously, to knuckle down, to embrace what lies before us with greater diligence. By itself, this is the path of the Law, and it will not lift us to a better place.
No, the solution to the weathered and weary saint and child of God is found in looking to Christ and remembering His promises. Perhaps David the psalmist had found himself in a pit when he penned, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1) God has given special gifts for this very purpose; we Lutheran Christians often refer to these gifts as “Word and Sacrament,” for in these gifts God has promised to be at work in and among us, delivering Christ’s forgiveness and peace, growing us in Christ. And what a blessing when we cultivate a worship and devotional habit that parades the promises before us daily and helps us to discover the Lord’s mercies that are new every morning – all yours through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for you!
Your life has purpose, for you belong to Him who died and rose again for you! And we, too, shall rise! It’s His promise! Remember whose you are: You belong to God in Christ Jesus! (Just one of the many promises that are yours as a Baptized child of God.) You have been reconciled to God through Christ, and your sins are forgiven…ALL of them!
As you labor, strive to remember the promises! Your service has meaning and purpose! “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not give up!” (Galatians 6:9) Though we sow in tears we shall reap with shouts of joy! (Psalm 126) We are seldom on a mountaintop for long, but Christ –with His promises- is with us as we walk through the valleys.
Remember the promises! Because Jesus lives, we too shall live! (John 14:19) Remember the promises: He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion! (Phil. 1:6) Remember the promises! For they depend not upon you: For they are all “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ! Even if we do not yet see it! (That’s what faith is, remember: “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not [yet] seen.”–Hebrews 11:1)
The solution for dwelling in the dumps is to feast on the facts of what God has done for you and me in Christ: to remember the promises!
Whether you are a parishioner or Pastor, highly involved or minimally-involved, we all share a common need to be built up in our Christian walk.
If you don’t already have a co-worker, partner, confessor, and friend who can help you to remember the promises, it’s time to seek one out. And seek to do the same for them!