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hope for churches in stress

Deep Redemption

In ministry (as in life) bad things happen. We may encounter disruptions, accusations, scuttlebutt, sabotage, betrayal, and even termination.

At these times, a deadly enemy attacks. “He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.” (Psalm 17:9-12; 1 Peter 5:8)

Succumbing to his guile, we blame others for our distress. In anger we retaliate. Or mired in resentment, we distance ourselves from detractors and adversaries.

To focus our animosity on people is a mistake. The larger purposes of God are at work. Writing in a Nazi prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer described the epicenter of his faith: “I must be able to know for certain that I am in God’s hands, not in those of people.”

In fact, God is working for our good—refining, purifying, winnowing, and pruning. (Malachi 3:2-3; Matthew 3:11-12; John 15:1-2) As Bonhoeffer also writes, God always leads us “along the best and straightest paths to holiness.”

Amid distress, we often experience unforeseen intimacy with our Father God. He meets us, comforts us, instructs us, and may “call” us to new endeavors.

We are forgiven, changed, and comforted. Strengthened by this deep redemption, we can bear the burden of hurtful speech and difficult behavior, overcome evil with good and, and as far as it depends on us, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18, 21)

In the day of calamity, the Lord rescues us because he delights in us. (Psalm 18:18-19)

The Bonhoeffer quotes are taken from Letters and Papers from Prison

(The Macmillan Company, 1967), pages 99 and 206.

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