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Things are Always Changing - By Pastor Tom Engel


At the start of this week, I began with my usual morning routine of making a cup of coffee. But my morning cup of coffee was the only part of my day that was going to be normal. With the first few sips of my coffee, I usually turn on the news, With all of the news about the pandemic, I started seeing that I would need to be addressing our concerns about how the spread of the virus is affecting our lives in Sunday’s message.

The news anchor began his segment by saying, “Things are always changing.” As soon as I heard that phrase, I knew that it would be the title of my message. The keyword here is “always.” This pandemic that we are experiencing is changing our lives every day.

And I want to be careful here that I am not minimizing this pandemic. A virus is spreading throughout the world, and we need to take measures for our own individual safety and for those around us. But we have to say that this is not the first change in our lives. To get through this change in our lives, it is helpful to see that we have had tough times before.

Coming from a large family with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews at all different ages and various stages in life, we are always staying in tune with each other with what we are doing. When I call my mom and ask what is happening with her and everyone else, she updates me as she is the central hub of communication for the family, and then she says, “But things are always changing, so we will just have to see what happens next.” And then my mom always adds a little tag that I think is a short prayer, “All will work out. God willing.”

Most of life is normal and routine with slight bumps and some ups and downs. With good planning, we can almost predict what is going to happen next. Life has its way of running an unusual course. There are some things that we can count on like the change of seasons. Here in March, we are looking towards spring with longer days of sunshine. April will bring showers that help May’s flowers to blossom and grow.

As life has times of normalcy, we also go through complicated moments with disruptions. Now, our family’s news is like so many other families who are living with uncertainties about health, paychecks, and toilet paper. We are calling each other more often and giving reports about how everyone is doing. Before this crisis, I bought a big package of toilet paper that was on sale. But I am rationing myself with my usage in case someone in my family needs a roll.

I heard of a daughter whose mother is elderly and is living on her own, but her mom does need some assistance with daily chores. This mom lives in another state, and the daughter is not able to do some things like go shopping for her mom. The mom’s neighbor has helped the mom by making sure she has all that she needs. The daughter appreciates what this neighbor is doing for her mom, and the daughter is returning the favor by helping her neighbor who is elderly with whatever she needs.

In many ways, we can come together to get through this time. Maybe we can say that this is the point of why this is happening to our world. Often, we look at how people are so different, and in looking at our differences, conflict comes up. Talking about political issues always did bring heated debate, but lately, we can say they are at the boiling point. With no doubt, we are different from each other in many ways. We can disagree with each other. Nothing is wrong with having differences. But we can agree that we disagree and still be friends as we at least try to understand each other.

As we are trying to be understanding, we can see how we are all alike in our basic human needs. Every person needs to be concerned about their well-being, and I want to think that every person is also concerned about the care of others. We wash our hands frequently, so we do not get sick. But we also are washing our hands and keeping a distance from each other for the sake of everyone.

To be clear, I know I am only guessing why all of this is happening. Is this a time of testing of how we care for one another? Or maybe we can get spiritual here, and with this time that we are spending at home, we are to be still as Psalm 46 says and get to know more about whom God is. I think we can say that this is more of the answer to why this is happening, but we are not to try to get too specific in trying to figure all this out.

Scripture tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. To back up how God works, the Bible also provides us with many ways of how God works that just does not make sense to our human reasoning. Like building a big boat with no body of water nearby. Or choosing a spokesperson who has a speech problem. Can you imagine facing a fierce giant with nothing but a slingshot and some small stones? If I was to start a movement, I would choose the most influential of all people and not common folk like fishermen. And I would not choose a person to head my movement who was against me.

But Noah, Moses, David, Peter, John, and the other disciples with Paul did as God said, and all did turn out well. In his anguish, Job tried to make sense of it all. He determined that all belongs to God since He is the creator, so God gives and taketh away. To say this about God, Job had to have a firm trust in God. We do have to see as Job did continue in his suffering that he wanted some answers from God. In reading near the end of the book of Job, we see that God does answers Job but with His own questions like where were you, Job, when I was creating the heavens and the earth.

When the religious leaders want to know if a man who was born blind, if it was the man’s sin or the parent’s sin, Jesus answers by restoring the man’s sight. But most of all, Jesus forgives the man’s sins. In a way, we can say it’s natural to want answers to our suffering. If we are hurting, we want to know that our pain is not in vain. We want reasons to give meaning to our lives.

After all, we live in a cause and effect world. When one thing happens it will have an effect of some kind on something else. We want explanations of what is happening, especially if these things cause injustices. A moral order must be put in place. Who is to blame? They must be punished! No, they did not have it coming to them. This act is wrong. Questions abound, and we demand answers. And answers we will have or else!

We do want answers, and we do get a response, but it’s not the answer that we would like and is definitely not as specific as we would like it to be. In Jesus’ healing of the man born blind, Jesus does not answer the question of why he was blind. Instead, Jesus does a surgical strike to the problem. Jesus heals the man’s sight, so he can see again. This healing shows how Jesus has the power to heal because he is the Lord of all.

But Jesus did not just come to make people’s physical needs better. This man is a sinner like every person is sinful, including the religious leaders. Jesus does what is needed the most for the man. We all need salvation, so we can have eternal life. So, what does Jesus do? He forgives the man’s sins.

God the Father wants the world to see and know Jesus as the Savior of the world. How God the Father does what He does so people come to see Jesus as the only way for salvation is for Him to decide and for us to accept by faith. We trust that God only has good in His mind and heart for the world. Scripture is our history book of how God pulls people through hard times. Looking at world history, we see that God has been with every generation. Our own lives tell the story of how God gets us through every day of our own trials.

We do not always know why things happen, but it’s in the very midst of things that we do not understand, we do not have to fear, but we can believe.

Faith gets us through everything that comes to our way-the “normal,” extraordinary, joyous, and difficult times. It’s as true as it can get, that “things are always changing,” but we live, move, and have our very being every day by Jesus who does not change. So, we keep living by the grace of God in Christ. Boldly, we can say, ”Go ahead world and keep changing, for I will not fear because I have faith.”

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