Sermon Details

Deep Faith for Dark Times

January 17, 2021
(3:1) Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
– 1 Samuel 3:1

Political corruption leading to national crisis: That is what we saw in the Capitol on January 6. Having been misled by their leaders that an election had been stolen, the unthinkable happened: America’s political infrastructure was attacked. And as a result our President was impeached – again. What has happened to America? How will things ever be made right? Who is going to lead America out of this tragedy?

Religious corruption leading to national crisis: That is what we see in the Book of First Samuel. Having been misled by the priesthood, who stole their offerings (2:12-14) and slept with acolytes (2:22), the unthinkable happened: Israel’s religious infrastructure was undone. The word of the Lord was rare in those days – because the priests were not serving God. They were serving themselves. Visions were not widespread – because Israel had been misled by those who had been entrusted to connect the people with God. What had happened to Israel? How could things ever be made right? Who was going to lead Israel out of this tragedy?

Interestingly and providentially – and not unexpectedly – God was already at work in the midst of the mess. A good soul – a child – the boy Samuel, who was in training to serve the Lord, was already being raised up by God to lead Israel’s restoration.

Samuel is a transitional figure in the Bible. He was the last judge and the first prophet. Samuel was crucial in establishing the kingship. After deposing Saul, Samuel gave Israel its greatest king: David. Working through Samuel and other good people, God helped steer the Hebrew nation out of disaster and into brighter days.
God is doing the same thing right now. God continues to be at work in the midst of our mess. Good public servants, on the scene and on the way, are being raised up by God to lead us into what is right and good.

If you read the Bible, you will find God does not “miracle” everything into place instantly. What God does do is work with imperfect people in less-than-ideal circumstances to slowly, but surely help bring about what God wants to see in our world and in us.

It is going to take time – years – for us as a nation to set things right. But, with God’s grace and our effort, we will do it. God will help. In fact, God already is.

If you doubt that, just look at the other tragedy we are also dealing with: the pandemic.

IF an effective vaccine can be successfully discovered and delivered, it usually takes anywhere from 5-15 years: Research. Development. Clinical trials. Is it safe? Does it work? Regulatory review and approval. Manufacturing and distribution. IF all of that can be successfully figured out and pulled off, it takes 5-15 years. The coronavirus vaccine that is arriving now was developed in 11 months. 11 months.

How could that be? Because God already had boots on the ground: Samuels – plural – working on and contributing to the miracle that is here today thanks to them. Think of the legions of researchers, public health experts, Dr. Fauci, the Center for Disease Control, pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, the World Health Organization, third world religious hospitals – some of which are funded by our denominational giving: All of these individuals, agencies, institutions, and networks will help deliver the vaccine to the world: This angelic army of good, ordinary, faithful people contributing their talents, care, and effort have laid the groundwork and continue to do the grunt work through which God is bringing this miracle to us.

If we can do that medically for the world, then we can do that politically for our nation.

Will it be hard? Yes. Will there be setbacks, disappointments, false starts, dead ends, tough compromises, and unexpected challenges? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But we can trust that as we, the people, do what is right and just and good, that God is going to move and bless and restore and heal our country, which we all love.

So, as God through the Bible tells us over and over again: Fear not.

God is on the job. Sometimes in the headlines, but also in unheralded and hidden ways to bring blessing into being. After all, God’s greatest miracle arrived with no fanfare or headlines in a manure filled barn in an obscure place called Bethlehem. So, keep your eyes open as you kick despair to the curb. Keep up with the news – as you keep the faith. Trust in the Lord for he shall bring what is good.

In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

If you pray this prayer, contact a pastor. They’ll show you how to live for Christ with purpose, peace, and joy. Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” That definitely includes YOU!