Well, we are officially in fall. But it doesn’t feel like it. Though the hot weather has backed off a bit, none of the other things we normally associate with this change of season are in place: the leaves really haven’t begun to change and the brisk mornings have not yet arrived. Yet we know they are just around the corner.
2020 has been that kind of year, hasn’t it? We keep being brought up to a point where things are almost resolved – but not quite. There always seems to be some major thing hovering in the background waiting for conclusion so we can get on with the rest of our lives: waiting for the COVID vaccination – waiting for the election season to be over – waiting for the time when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.
In a way this is much like what it is always for the Christian – living in what is called the “now but not yet” time. We have been redeemed by Christ – but we still live in a world fractured and broken by sin. We have been made His saints through baptism, but our bodies are still subjected to sin as we await that time when we will be made whole and regenerated fully into the new creation that will arrive with the Lord’s coming again.
It is difficult to be patient during all of this and we suffer in the midst of it. Yet St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans: “2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5: 2-5 (ESV).
This hope that St. Paul speaks of is the key to our being able to persevere, for it is a sure and certain anticipation which resets upon God Himself. Luther wrote that when we are beset upon by suffering and sin we need not despair. Rather, “. . . we must regard [our] baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say: Nevertheless, I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.”
So, let us solider on through these tough times – joyful in our hearts and focused on our certain and sure future in Christ. For though the present time may bring with it discomfort and even difficulty – none of this can separate us from the Love of God in His Only Son. The favorite time that we all long for will come for us in the form of our Risen Savior with healing on His wings. Amen.