On Dec. 1, the boiler went out in our church. We had no heat in the sanctuary for worship that day, or for the community Live Nativity Christmas pageant that our church hosts, or for our Christmas Eve service, one of our biggest services of the year. We decided to replace the boiler, but the new one had to be shipped from the east coast, and because of Christmas and New Year’s, it took longer that we had hoped. We didn’t get it until February. And then it took longer to install and get it inspected than we thought. In fact, we still don’t have heat in our sanctuary. All this during one of the coldest winters we’ve had for a long time.
When something bad happens to you, do you think God is punishing you? I don’t believe it. God loves us, and God walks with us through our struggles. I don’t believe God causes our suffering in order to punish or test us. Sometimes we make poor choices and we suffer the consequences. Sometimes other people sin, and that causes us to suffer. Sometimes natural events happen, like earthquakes or tornadoes. God do not cause earthquakes or tornadoes or tsunamis to punish people. God created the world and set the world in motion. And sometimes the natural laws God put in place cause floods and hurricanes.
When some of our church members were talking about our boiler situation, we mentioned 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Pauley Perrette, who plays Abby Sciuto on the TV show “NCIS,” talks about being thankful in all circumstances in a video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP2bqK5b5JY. Give thanks in all circumstances. That doesn’t mean we have to be thankful for the difficult circumstances, but we can always find things to be thankful for, even in the midst of our struggles. Our church is thankful that we’ve sat closer together in worship to stay warm; we’re thankful that our trustees have done such a wonderful job taking care of the church during this time; we’re thankful that our pipes haven’t frozen; we’re thankful we have the resources to purchase another boiler.
Are you going through struggles right now? Please know that God loves you, and there are lots of people who love you and could support you, even if we don’t know you yet. Is there something you could give thanks for, even in the midst of your difficult times?