Time of Trial – And Opportunity

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.

Dear friends,

Many working parents are panicking as they struggle to figure out how to juggle remote learning for their children with the rigors of maintaining full-time jobs.

Not long ago, a parent in our congregation expressed similar concerns regarding Christian education for their children. Parents are also concerned about their children’s spiritual needs as a part of caring for the family’s regular day-to-day needs.

The concern lies with their ability to keep everything in their daily routine running smoothly without neglecting their kids or their work responsibilities.

Over half, 54%, of working parents express guilty feelings because they can’t fully care for their children, while 43% report feeling guilty when they’re caring for their families because they’re not focusing on their work responsibilities, according to Catalyst’s recent survey of 1,000 U.S. working parents of school-aged children.

Clearly, I am powerless to influence when and how schools should open. But I want our families to know that Session and Trustees are working hard to ensure that our buildings – with our full complement of education programs — are safe and ready to reopen as soon as possible.

During this period of waiting for things to heal, try to use our present challenges as opportunities. Keep asking the theological questions: What can I learn about God? What can I learn about my spiritual disciplines? And what can I learn about myself?

Don’t waste your challenges. Use this season to explore more profound prayer practices, Scripture reading, meditation, acts of service to others, and daily moments for worship and thanksgiving to God.

Here’s why I am saying this to you: I want you and your family and our whole congregation to pass this test and emerge better, stronger, more God-conscious, more compassionate, more available to the Lord and others.

Unfortunately, such expansion of heart for God often comes through times of trial.

So, don’t waste your challenges. Lean into them with the strength and wisdom of God.

Don’t waste your challenges. Remember Jesus and his many profound challenges. God’s Grace is free, yes, but it doesn’t come cheap or easy.

Keep “looking to Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”

Strangely, by some divine twist, our challenges make us stronger. James says, My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance (James1:2-3).

Yesterday marked the start of our pilgrimage with Jesus on his way to the Cross and His resurrection. “Lent,” writes Henri Nouwen, “is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. So we must be reconciled with God … The season of Lent especially helps us to cry out for God’s mercy.”

The road ahead is challenging, but I am glad we are walking together, with Jesus as our leader.

In Christ,

Pastor Ray Hylton

 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash