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Finding strength through Christ

By Scott Baker

On Sunday, May 10, as we all gathered around our computer screens, tablets or phones for our Zoom worship, we heard the familiar words of Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… .” (I personally prefer the old King James version, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.”) As we shelter in place in our own earthly homes, I realize that perhaps these words couldn’t have come at a better time. As human beings we are troubled by so many things during this time of uncertainty. Many are facing turmoil due to job loss, income reduction, even sickness from the virus itself, or its impact on loved ones. Many of us are worrying about how we will conduct our lives over the next weeks or months knowing that we will have to do so with no small amount of risk in contracting COVID-19. Many are worried about the economy and how our lives are going to be in the world post-quarantine. Worries abound and they, like the virus itself, seem to grow exponentially.

Unlike Bobby McFerrin’s music hit from many years ago, “Don’t Worry, be Happy,” Jesus is calling his followers not to put on rose-colored glasses and ignore the ills of the world, but rather, realize that by placing trust in God, those maladies the world throws our way can be faced with a deeper confidence and even a deeper strength. Jesus’ words to his disciples spoken in the upper room around a Passover table don’t candy-coat or gloss over the troubles of the world, but puts them in perspective of a greater truth and deeper meaning in a God who is greater than those troubles. It should not be lost on us that Jesus utters these words the night before he is to be handed over to be crucified for the sins of the whole world. He knew what he was going to face the next day and was able to reassure us (and perhaps even himself) that no matter what, trust in God for God is in control. And if he could claim that hope and that strength the night before he faced one of the most gruesome deaths the world could execute, that should give us some semblance of reassurance as well. It is not surprising that the words of the gospel cited above are the very same words often read at a funeral. Precisely during life’s most trying time of losing a loved one we need to be reminded of a bigger picture. We need to be reminded there is something greater in which to place our hope and claim the power of God who is able to conquer all things; even death.

None of us can predict what life will look like as we “open up” our state and our front doors to begin life as normally as we can. None of us can know what the future holds and for many of us that is more that enough to scare the living daylights out of us. Jesus’ words remind us, no matter what, we can do all things through him who strengthens us. We can even face the world post-quarantine.

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the pastor of Emanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.