Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
Just a few challenges
There is something sad about autumn. Even if autumn is also hunting season, it does dampen the mood of most of us, the days becoming shorter, and the darkness, and cold and wet weather. Autumn is, in many ways, the depression of nature. At the very least, it is a melancholy season, a reminder that all things must die; not only because of hunting season, but also because life itself seems to die around us, leaves falling and leaving trees to stand thin and bare, like skeletons of what was once blooming and full of life.
And after autumn comes winter. Perhaps that is the worst thing about it. Or perhaps not.
It is not really that I hate winter. And it is not really that winter is all death. Winter has its own enjoyable atmosphere, and its own enjoyable events.
It is just that life is a bit more difficult in winter, because of the dark and the cold and the snow. There is no reason why we cannot enjoy life in winter. It just takes a little more effort to embrace life. We need to dress warm to go anywhere, and wipe off our feet, and shovel the snow. But that does not mean that we are not alive over winter. Or that all there is to life in winter is longing for spring.
Christians long for the Kingdom of God, and His eternal life. In His Kingdom there shall be no more suffering and no more sorrow, and even death shall be no more, rather, all things shall be filled with His goodness and His glory, and God Himself shall be all in all. And those who belong to Him shall be with Him forever and share His fullness of life with Him.
Holy Scripture also presents an interesting perspective, though, on the life of a Christian right here and now, with its claim that that for which we long has come to us already.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,” writes the Apostle (Col 3:1-4), “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Christians have already in Baptism died away from this world of suffering and sorrow, and been raised with Christ (the Apostle pointed that out in the previous chapter). And the only reason our life here and now in so many ways seem alike to a life of suffering and sorrow is that our life is “hidden with Christ in God”. Our reality is that we are already seated in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) where there is neither suffering nor sorrow, and no evil can reach us. We already live with God, in the fullness of His goodness. It is just that we do not see it. And that is why our life with Him involves some challenges.
The sufferings and sorrows that fall upon Christians in this life are not evil; they are in His hands, who loved us and took the fullness of sufferings and sorrows upon Himself for our salvation. And in ways we do not understand, they are all expressions of His love for us, and they serve for our good.
Not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, the Apostle writes elsewhere (Romans 8:38-39); in other words, the glory that awaits us after this life is a continuation of the life Christians already own because of His mercy, and have already now begun to know in our life with Him, in His Word and worship. When He comes, we shall see it face to face and know it fully. But it is ours already. All things good have been given to us already, in our life of faith. And our salvation is certain and secure. It is just that until He comes, we will not be able to enjoy our heavenly life fully and completely because of the devil and the world and our sinful flesh. And it does take some effort to enjoy this our heavenly life at all; a bit like it takes some effort to keep up life during the winter.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem