January 2018 Notes

Life is difficult. When we learn to accept the reality that during our journey through life we will encounter obstacles, struggles, pitfalls and challenges, we will be more mature and wiser people. To expect that somehow we will escape the reality – that all the world should make room for our needs and our desires in order to make life easy for us – only leads to frustration and hostility. And it only creates more difficulties for us. When we accept that life is a series of problems along the way, we also have a choice – we can throw up our hands in despair and give up, or we can seek healthy and productive ways to deal with those problems.

Most people do not fully see the truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less constantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy for other people, and as if life ought to be easy. They let it be known that their difficulties are unique and have somehow been place especially upon them. I suspect that all of us have, at times, fallen into this trap and this way of thinking.

But as I reflect on Scripture, I realize that Jesus’ journey through life was most difficult as well. Wherever Jesus traveled, he encountered people making demands upon His time and His energy. Wherever Jesus traveled, He met opposition from those who disagreed with His message of hope and love. Wherever Jesus traveled, He found Himself in the midst of situations where He had to make decisions and choices. Indeed, it would have been much easier for Jesus to give up, to retreat from His commitment, and to withdraw into some remote village and return to His life as a carpenter. At least that would have looked easier and would have seemed to be the way to rid Himself of the difficulties He encountered along the way.

But I believe that Jesus was able to deal with life’s difficulties because He had developed a unique and meaningful prayer life. No matter where He went, Jesus seemed to find the time to pray. Indeed, it seems that prayer was a necessary part of His daily life. It is in prayer that Jesus found the strength to carry on when all the pressures and difficulties threatened to overwhelm Him; it is in prayer that Jesus found the courage to speak out in the face of His opponents; it is in prayer that Jesus discovered a healthy way to deal with the issues that confronted Him.

And prayer can do the same for us as well, as long as we are open to listening to God’s answers. In prayer we open ourselves to the guidance and the direction that God offers to us. In prayer we will find encouragement to press on with the reality of life’s difficulties. In prayer, we will discover a “calmness” that helps us to deal with our issues in creative and healthy ways. In prayer, we will find ways to accept the things that cannot change. In prayer, we will be blessed so that we might be a blessing to others. A healthy, daily prayer life can change things – maybe not our life situation, but the way in which we handle our life situation. Consider this during the season of Lent. Has our prayer life been lacking? Have we neglected a steady diet of God’s nurture? Have we turned to God only when we have a need or a desire that we think ought to be fulfilled? Have we treated God like a vending machine – we put in our prayer and God should give us what we want? Where is our prayer life? In what direction have we been going? In what direction ought we to go?

Yes, life is difficult. But through prayer we can find all that is needed to deal with those difficulties in a healthy way. This time before Easter gives us an opportunity to work on our prayer life, to build daily communication with God, in both expressing our concerns and in listening to God’s words to us? As we are open to God’s Spirit, so we shall grow and so we shall find wholeness and peace in our lives.

Pastor George

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Pastor George P. Heberling
Pastor George P. Heberling