“Thinking Out Loud” by Rev. Blaine R. Wenger

““Living Under Threat”

There are many signs that spring is turning to summer.  Trees and shrubs are full and lush.  Flowers are taking off and filling out.  Gardens are growing, and some things are producing already.  Lawns need mowed, regularly.  School has finished up.  And then, there are the near daily, oft repeated warnings that pop up on my phone.  On my phone, I have two weather apps that I can easily check the weather; what it is, and what is likely coming up. A really handy feature for both, is that they will send warnings.  I get a warning message pop up on my phone when there is a weather event expected.  In the winter months, it will warn of impending snow.  Right now, the warnings that pop up are of rain, and storms.  With the extreme heat that we have had recently, I was getting daily warnings. “Severe Weather Alert.”  “Thunderstorms possible in area (Manheim) starting … until …”  (I actually have the second app set to alert me for Cornwall, Lebanon.  Sitting between the two as we do.)  If we are going to have bad weather, maybe we want to take the dogs out for a quick spin, or it will affect our mowing schedule, or I need to make sure that I have the grill tied down, so it doesn’t blow away.  There are many reasons it is nice to have a heads up about impending bad weather.  The thing is, it is quite common, once the alert comes, that it keeps coming, changing over time.  The weather alert might start out warning of possible storms until 6 PM.  Then it is extended to 6:30 PM.  Then it is extended to 7 PM and so on.  There are many days where it seems that we are living under constant threat of rain, or storms.  And of course, we are talking weather prediction here; so sometimes the storm comes; sometimes it doesn’t.  Still, whether the storm comes, or passes by, or never materializes, there is the sense of threat.

If you don’t have a strong sense of connection to “the land,” the threat of storm may affect you very little.  But many do find themselves living under some other type of threat.  Many find themselves living with a sense of threat regarding job, or health, or in a relationship, or some other way.  The more intense and personal the issue, the greater the strain one can feel emotionally.  Most of the time, for me, the “threat” of storms is a matter of convenience or inconvenience.  But, if one is living with a sense of threat from an issue of health, or living with deep uncertainty about a job, or a relationship, or something of the like, it can be exhausting.

This week, as I have been working on worship for Sunday, especially preparing a devotional to post online as I usually do weekly, I was struck by a line in the New Testament Lesson.  This week, our New Testament Lesson is from 2 Corinthians.  In Chapter 2, verse 5 and 6, we read, “So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight.”  That bit of scripture really struck me.  There are so many today, that are struggling to live confidently due to many things; COVID, health, job, finances, relationships, shifting politics, etc.  Many DO feel like they are living with a sense of threat likely at any time or hanging over them all the time.  How is it that we can have a sense of confidence?  How is it that we can be “ok” even when things seem to loom, or hang over our heads?  It is by walking by faith, not by sight as verse 7 says. 

Sight is a wonderful tool.  A blessing.  But sight is limited.  We can’t see all the things we would like to.  And we don’t always know to be looking for something, or what to look for.  If that is the case, how is it that we put one foot in front of the other?  Faith.  Our faith in God, enables us to be, and live, and do, even in the midst of life’s uncertainties.  Faith does not make them all go away.  Rather, faith gives us the confidence to deal with them; to not be knocked down by them; to roll with the punches so to speak.  The one we serve, is greater than all the difficulties we may or may not face.  “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT)

Grace, Mercy, and Peace,

Pastor Blaine