Pastoral Letter October 2013

Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I shall return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

 – Genesis 18.14

Dear Friends,

On Sunday mornings we are considering some of the major events and passages in the book of Genesis in an overview, which means that we have some other texts to come back to! Here is the Angel of the Lord speaking to Abraham about God’s promise that he will have a natural son and heir.

Sarah laughs, because she does not believe that it is possible to have a child any longer. The laugh is cynical and perhaps even contemptuous. But as we know, she gives birth to Isaac in due time, and then we read that she says:

‘God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me’ (Ch 21 v6). This is, of course, different laughter. Now she is filled with joy at the goodness of God in granting her most heartfelt longing.  What should we take from this?

Perhaps there are many lessons we could draw, but I would make a plea to you to guard yourselves against cynicism. We seek to serve the Lord in difficult times. In days when high and holy things are disdained, when the gospel is openly reviled and rejected. We can readily become disillusioned, cynical, and hardened. When nothing happens, we shrug our shoulders and move on, because we didn’t expect anything to happen in the first place. When pews are empty, when conversions are rare, when baptisms are not seen, we just allow ourselves that cynical inward ‘laugh’ and we grow hard and indifferent.

We often do this to protect ourselves from disappointment. But disappointment is a good thing! The well-known preacher Charles Spurgeon once asked a young preacher who was not seeing any conversions if he expected to see any. When the response came back in the negative, Spurgeon believed that he had pinpointed the problem. We should be disappointed, but not downcast, that our attempts at evangelism have yielded small results so far.

But we should ask ourselves the question every single day: Is anything too hard for the Lord? The answer never changes! Let us trust Him for every need in our own lives, and for the great work of the gospel. If we won’t give in to cynical laughter, we will have cause for joyful laughter in the coming days!

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