These are epochal times in our nation and the world. Some of the major events that defined previous generations were the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, 9/11, and this generation will have COVID-19. The scriptures remind us that our great God is sovereign over the microscopic germs bringing disease, that He is the one who sends pestilence (2 Samuel 24:14-16), but that He also spares His beloved from the deadly pestilence that stalks in darkness (Psalm 91:5-10). The saints at Cornerstone understand the instability of the world, and so we see the dire need for prayer during these times, and recognize that this may very well be a ripe time for the spread of the gospel and revival.
Before the recent turmoil and social distancing that started due to pestilence, the Lord had brought some new visitors to the church. Also, the Sunday afternoon group studying about parenting continued to go well while relationships were growing. We were praying for and planning for the next steps after the end of that book. While the times and our plans seem uncertain, we worship the Lord who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them!
One part of my work as a church planter is ministering in the community through chaplaincy. At the end of February, I had the privilege, as a chaplain, of attending a free training for peer support hosted by the Saint Paul Police Department. The statistic of primary concern is that law enforcement officers are at a greater risk of dying by suicide than they are by homicide. The course goal was to train up officers, dispatchers, and support staff to recognize the warning signs, reduce the stress and encourage physical, mental, spiritual, and relational wellness. On the second day of the class, the instructor, a former police officer and a fellow Christian, asked each of the 35 or so students in the class to share their name, agency, and the worst experience of their lives. For the next two hours, I heard and saw as men and women shared, half of them in tears, about their trauma and pain. The pain was sometimes personal—the breakdown of a marital relationship or a debilitating injury to a family member. Others shared about the worst call that they witnessed on patrol, like the death of a child.
One lesson learned is that pain shared is pain divided. In other words, when you share about your painful experiences of the past with others (particularly with believers and receive support in prayer), this is part of your healing. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Another lesson is that pain is a universal experience for all men, regardless of age, culture, education, or socioeconomic class, because pain and suffering are general consequences of the fall of man. This is both a reminder and an encouragement for us that pain is an open door for empathy and the ministry of the gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4—“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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” As you meet others and hear about their pain, share with them the greatest comfort that you have in Jesus Christ!
(Picture Caption: Members of Cornerstone spread out by family groups to maintain six feet of social distancing during a prayer meeting.)