How To Find Hope In The Struggle

Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni from Pexels

November 11, 2020
Shirley Knight, Certified Spiritual Director

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

These words are the first lines of the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God.  As we sang this in worship recently, I realized again our heritage as Lutherans.  Even when we weren’t able to be in the sanctuary singing this song together, with the volume of our voices (this is one song I have noticed everyone sings really loud together), I closed my eyes and remembered the times we have sung this song together and how it fills my soul.

As I listened for what to share for this devotion, this song has stayed with me. I decided to do a little research into the history of Luther’s writing of these words. 

The Black Death and COVID-19 have too much in common
In the summer of 1527 there were outbreaks of an ongoing pandemic of the Black Plague in Wittenburg, Germany.  The Rev. Dr. Ray Howell III* described this time when “the world was changing rapidly and little seemed firm or steady” for Martin Luther.  Can’t we all relate to that!

Five hundred years ago the world was experiencing turmoil much like we are feeling now. You hear it all around you and are likely feeling some of these consequences:

  • the effects of the pandemic,
  • our weariness to the struggles it has imposed on us,
  • the grieving people who have lost someone they love from the virus,
  • struggling families who have lost jobs,
  • parents trying to take care of children not knowing from week to week whether their children will be in school or learning from home,
  • our sadness not to be together physically in the sanctuary to worship, and
  • whatever else each person is facing in the world right now.

Hope – I think that is what so many people are yearning to feel after these months of experiencing the pandemic, each in our own way.

Shirley Knight, Certified Spiritual director

Are you feeling the fatigue of the pandemic?
I don’t know about you, but I have become weary and tired. If you have, too, may I suggest this weariness is the time for you to lean in closer to God, our Mighty Fortress, with the reminder God never abandons you? It is in this place of rest that you can find your hope once again, the strength to move forward, continuing to pray for all people in our country and the world. 

I mentioned The Rev. Dr. Howell earlier. He wrote this about Martin Luther:
Luther knew that he in his own strength could not prevail. He put his hope and trust in the one who is our refuge and strength. In the midst of a global pandemic as he battled his own personal demons, Luther wrote the enduring words that have lifted millions of hearts throughout the centuries.  “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing!” *

We get to Hope!
Hope – I think that is what so many people are yearning to feel after these months of experiencing the pandemic, each in our own way. 

Hope – what does scripture have to share with you today that touches your heart and reminds you of the true hope you have in God?  The following are some scripture verses that I have been praying to remind me of that hope:

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us.  –Romans 5:5

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  –Romans 12:12

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  –Romans 15:13

Do you recognize how God is caring for you now?
My prayer for all of you this week is to feel God’s love and hope pouring into each of your hearts, a deep knowing that you are not alone.  As you prepare for Thanksgiving, may this be a time for you to look for God’s presence in ways that you have missed during these difficult months. May you see beacons of light and hope that God has blessed you with during this time. 

For me, I am thankful for the time of slowing down. I’ve realized how my busyness has blinded me to important things that I hadn’t made the priority they should have been.  I’m thankful that technology has allowed me to worship virtually with my congregation, and made a space where we can meet together online, savoring the relationships that are important to us.  

In closing, may you each rest in that Mighty Fortress that is your God.

Shirley Knight, Certified Spiritual Director
Assistant Director of Seeking the Spirit Within

*https://www.gastongazette.com/lifestyle/20200515/ray-howell-iii-one-of-our-greatest-christian-hymns-was-written-in-global-pandemic

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