Yesterday was one of those days that alternates between heartache and joy. A day when a preacher feels both incredible helplessness and incredible hope.
The day began when I met a physician that has a vision for a free health care clinic in an under-served area of Lansing. Her grant proposal was well written. She has over $100,000 in in-kind donations. She needs another $200,000 to get her project off the ground. I don't think there is anything our church can do. Helpless . . .
Talked with a guy who is really struggling in his marriage right after that. He and his wife are nearing the seven-year mark, and the frustration is palpable. We've talked before. Sometimes they do well together; sometimes they don't. I believe they have all the resources they need for a God-honoring marriage. And yet I often feel pretty helpless to move them in that direction.
I spent three hours preparing a funeral sermon for a nine-day-old baby boy. The apparent contradiction between God's omnipotence His goodness was hammering in my ears the whole time. So I decided to acknowledge it. There are some times when "that don't make no sense" as Delmar's friend Pete likes to say; times when God seems asleep at the switch. God is big enough for us to admit our doubts, I think, but as I contemplated how to bring hope to this boy's family, I felt pretty hopeless.
I delivered that funeral sermon shortly after that, but not before I stood beside mom and dad as they peered into the bassinet at their little boy. He was exquisite - just like one of those "real life" baby dolls that you buy your daughter so she can feel all grown up when she plays mommy. There were lots of tears. And through the sobbing I felt pretty helpless.
At the funeral dinner that followed everyone was very complimentary. They said my words brought comfort and healing. In spite of the brutal events of the day there was laughter and joy. (Being a Christian makes all the difference at times like these!) As evening came, the sun finally began to shine.
The day concluded with me immersing two folks into Christ. What a huge blessing that was! Tom and Nancy were befriended by a group of folks from our church that camp together and cruise together and, well, they do just about everything together. It seems they also share the gospel together, too, because Tom and Nancy went public with their faith in Jesus last night. Afterward, their friends gave them a beautiful Bible. Nancy was overheard to say, "This is the first Bible we've ever owned." Amazing.
That is how the church works. This organic, living, breathing thing that is the hands of Christ and the hope of the world. Bringing comfort to people that are hurting; bringing Christ to people that are hopeless. The local church is the hope of the world. And in a day when this preacher felt pretty helpless, the church was a source of great hope for me, too.