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hope for churches in stress

Miracles and Messes

There are times when God breaks into our lives with miracles above and beyond our expectations (Eph. 3:20-21). We laugh and shout and rejoice, saying: "The Lord has done great things for us (Ps. 126:1-3)!"

Not long after, we are in a mess. It may be one we made. Or there may be distress among family or friends, at church, or in the world around us (Jam. 1:2-4).

The apostle Paul gloried in miracles and messes (2 Cor. 11&12). Heroes of faith experienced astounding triumphs and terrible distresses (Heb. 11).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison:“I believe that God can and will bring good out of evil. . . I believe that even our mistakes and shortcomings are turned to good account, and that it is no harder for God to deal with them than with our supposedly good deeds.”

In weal and woe, God is moving history toward a glorious climax (Hab. 2:14). In the words of one songwriter:

God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year:

God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near;

nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be,

when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God

as the waters cover the sea.

Apostles, prophets, and martyrs are now witnesses in the heavenly courtroom, testifying to the faithfulness of God. They urge us to persevere (Heb. 12:1-2). They declare: you can do all things through him who strengthens you (Phil. 4:19).

Amid miracles and messes alike, God is working out his purposes.

In 1894 Authur Campbell Ainger wrote the hymn, “God is Working His Purpose Out”

Quote cited by Dietrich Bonheoffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, p. 11

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