The Fifth Sunday after Trinity
July 16, 2017 A+D
St. Luke 5:1-11
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
For a Christian, God’s child, there are severe temptations to despair and give up hope when we see the things going on around us in the world. There is sickness, disease, serious injuries, death, war, political nonsense, rampant immorality, financial anxieties, threats from the weather, threats of terrorist attacks, threats from North Korea—just turn on the news. These are the things going on around us every minute of every day.
For a Christian, God’s child, we are tempted to despair when we look in our own homes, our children rebel against parents, they question the Christian faith—they even leave the faith, there are addictions, husbands take their wives for granted and don’t love them as Christ loved the Church, wives despise and nag their husbands, both husbands and wives argue and say hurtful things to one another, there are divorces. There is unhappiness. And this is in the homes of faithful, pious, practicing Christians—in Lutheran homes—in the homes of conservative home-schoolers.
For a Christian, God’s child, there is temptation to despair if we look into our own hearts. And explore our thoughts and desires. We lust after people that don’t belong to us. We’re greedy for things we don’t have We’re discontent with what we do have. We are easily jealous, easily angered, feel lonely, hopeless, and even desire sinful things. In this despair, the result usually comes in some form of losing hope in God, forgetting what God says about us and this world, and what God promises. But yet in the midst of all this you still come to church. In fact, if you dug a little deeper, you’d discover that’s why you come to church. Your environment, your families, your bodies, your feelings, your emotions, and your reason all deceive you, so you must hear over and over the Word of your Lord reiterating the promises He has made from the beginning, in every nation, and in every language.
I say Christians, God’s children, are tempted to despair from these things, because the heathen, the atheist, the agnostic, the humanist, the “no preferences” in our day have made peace with this world (or if not peace, then at least a truce). They don’t have the same struggles that you have. They have given in to the philosophy of the day. They have embraced the culture. They have embraced immorality (or at least bought the lie that it doesn’t matter how you live as long as you recycle and love your pets). They have redefined what is good and what is desirable. These are fellow Americans, our neighbors, our co-workers, our employers, those we are around every day, and maybe even those within our own families. We are bombarded with the message of tolerance and compromise, and peace at all costs.
We could look at any one of the patriarchs in Genesis, or the prophets or priests in the Old Testament to see how we are not alone in this temptation to despair—not alone in being surrounded by a hostile world and hostile people—but this morning we hear from Elijah. And it’s a good thing to hear from the biblical examples. We see how they were real people with real sins and real doubts, that we are not the first people to go through these things. But we also see how God deals with His children, His beloved—with Christians. We see God’s character through their accounts, and we can regain hope in His promise.
Elijah battled with powerful kings, hundreds of false prophets, communicated directly with God, saw incredible signs and wonders, was an instrument of God for mighty miracles (Just think of the drought, food for the widow at Zarephath, how he raised the widow’s son from the dead, how he called down fire from heaven, slew 450 prophets of Baal, etc., etc., etc.). Yet today, we see him as a man like any of us. He is whining and complaining. He’s disappointed in himself and everyone around him. He cries out to God, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:10, 14). And how does the Lord answer? In essence, he reminds Elijah that the world and God’s plan are bigger than he is. That he is not the center of the world, but that God still loves him and will take care of him and the generations after him. He says, “go anoint kings, go name your successor, I was in control before you and I will be in control after you. This should give you hope. I will not leave you alone. And even now, you’re not as alone as you feel. There are others in my household who are faithful. It’s going to be ok.”
These words are for you this morning. God is in control. He is the creator: He controls the sea, the fish, the winds, the earthquakes, the floods, the droughts, and the fires. He controls the presidents, the dictators, the generals, the armies, the terrorists. Even IEDS and ICBMs fit into His plan for you. He has been in control before baby-boomers and gen-Xers and millennials and He will be in control after these have been replaced with other generations. He is the creator and sustainer of all that exists.
He is the Savior. The God of heaven and earth is also your Lord in the flesh. Not only does He create all these things, His redemption is for all who believe. He came to earth for you, born of the Virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilot, died on the cross, was buried, and rose again on the third day. He ascended into Heaven to open a way for you. He has promised to be with you always, and has promised to return when the full number of His elect is complete. You are not the only one, but He loves you like you are. He never leaves you. He will not allow you to fall away. For in every temptation He provides the way out. He never leaves you without a word, a promise. He speaks to you through the Holy Scriptures. He cleanses you in Holy Baptism. He feeds you in the Holy Communion. He continues to call pastors to be fishers of men. He never leaves His church without spokesmen, theologians, or preachers. You are never left without His word.
King David gives us great words of hope. “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)
So when the world around you, the stress inside your homes, or the doubt inside your mind and heart are waring against you, listen to your Lord Jesus, who never departs from you no matter how much you ask Him to. Your Lord has overcome these things. He has overcome the world; He has overcome your accuser—the devil; He has overcome your sin.
He has placed you in this community, among these brothers and sisters in Christ for your mutual support, for nourishing you and sustaining you. Come today with the people and before the table He has prepared for you.
In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.