Iím sitting here this morning in the hotel lounge at the Vlad Motor Inn in Vladivostok, Russia! There is free WIFI from 7:30am to 11pm, so Iím taking full advantage of it. Itís been a bit of a rocky trip so far. I was pretty sick for two days, just as Clarion headed back to the good Ďole US of A. Speaking of that, her trip home was eventful to say the least. She was stuck in Moscow for a night. Then she was stuck in New York City for a night. Finally, after three days of travel, she made it home. Iím also on the mend. I hope and pray that thatís the full extent of our challenges on this trip. The important thing, the best thing, is that God is still making everything fall into place for Andrei to come home, to bring us together as a family!
Here we are in September of 2011, ten years after the horrific event of 9-11. I can think of the worst tragedies Iíve experiences, especially in the last ten years. Nothing compares to what rocked our nation (ďrockedĒ in a very bad way) ten years ago. I remember that day very clearly. I had been a pastor for about a year, living the single life in Cheyenne, Wyoming. That morning I had carpooled with a group of pastors to our monthly circuit meeting. It was fifty miles away in Laramie, Wyoming. We were two hours behind Eastern time, so the news was out as we made our way to Laramie. I think at that point the issue of terrorism hadnít completely been confirmed just yet, but by the end of the day when I got home, that was pretty much the headline. I remember what an eerie feeling I had as I got home to my apartment at the end of the day. It seemed unusually quiet. I think the prayers of many were ascending that evening. I knelt down and added mine to them.
This morning I had my daily devotion from The Treasury of Daily Prayer. Thanks to CPHís PrayNow App on my iPhone, I have a plethora of devotional resources in the palm of my hand while across the world. Todayís New Testament reading was from 2 Corinthians 1. There St. Paul writes: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Cor. 1:3-7)
I love that passage! It reminds me that the same Gospel that I preach to you, is also for my comfort in the midst of my sufferings. I always use that passage for the blessing at ordinations and installations, including recently at Pastor Beltzís ordination/installation. The passage also reminds us that we all suffer together, even as we rejoice together. As Americans, we suffered with our fellow countrymen and women who felt firsthand the pains of 9-11. As Christians, we certainly suffered together as we mourned the loss of brothers and sisters in Christ. Itís indeed a small world. I had pastor friends of mine who were on the scene at Ground Zero that day. I suffered with them as they ministered to people on the scene and then to their flocks. I rejoiced with them to proclaim the same Gospel of comfort to my flock in Cheyenne, Wyoming and now to you, the good people of Zion, Staunton!
We have a compassionate heavenly Father! Life is sometimes rocky, sometimes even quite hellish. Heíll never give us more than we can handle. All of His promises are ďYESĒ in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). In Christ, God promises that He is at work for our good, even when He allows evil to have its way in our lives. Read Romans 8! Read the whole book for that matter! The important thing, the BEST thing, is that God is making everything fall into place for us to be welcomed into his eternal arms as His children. Thatís the Good News of the Gospel. In Christ, through His death and resurrection, itís all done! God has already made us His through Holy Baptism. Heís put His seal on us and given us His Spirit as a guarantee of all that He has promised us in Christ (2 Cor. 1:22).
On this ten-year anniversary of 9-11, take heart, children of God! You are His children in Christ. Christ died for you. Let the evils of this world bring you to your knees. Repent of your sins, of the evil that is in your own heart, and receive the comfort of His full and free forgiveness. The blood of Jesus cleanses you of all your sin. Evil is conquered, by the One who died and rose again for you. We suffer together with Christ and we rejoice together in Him! Even from afar I suffer and rejoice with you. But Iíll be glad when Iím home and am there with you in person. See you soon, Zion!
Yours in Christ,