Sometime in the fall of 2019, after praying about it, I decided to begin 2020 by preaching through the New Testament letter of 2 Corinthians. I had always appreciated that letter, though I had no idea just how relevant it and timely its message would prove to be.
The Lord’s words to Paul provided the theme: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”, which led Paul to say, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
We spent almost three months studying that letter and those themes, finishing two weeks into the start of the quarantine and our season of online-only worship.
In hindsight, it seems quite providential that our time prior to a global pandemic focused on the importance of relying on God’s grace to provide the strength we need in the midst of our own weakness. Perhaps, in God’s mercy, that was a small way to help ready our hearts for the months to come.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, to remind us all that the word of God is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), and God says that when his word goes out “it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). When we study Scripture, we are not simply looking to glean information from ancient texts. We are listening attentively to the God who speaks, trusting that what he says is true and good, and that God’s “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Second, to invite us to look back, because we will often see unexpected signs of God’s goodness and grace. They may be stunning or they may be simple, though they will be there if we look with the eyes of faith for the loving hand of our heavenly Father. Even the difficult times can be seen differently if they caused us to draw nearer to God. As Paul wrote, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Scripture is always timely; always relevant. God is always active; always good. Not even a year of pandemic can diminish these truths.
I pray this finds you healthy and well.
Grace and peace,