Independence Day! July 2021

INDEPENDENCE DAY! We celebrate it every year. Last year was a little different– no fireworks (at least not the community ones).
Sometimes I wonder if people even remember what July 4th is all about? Do we celebrate the fireworks more than we do our independence and freedoms? Back in 1776, this event was the beginning of a war. The war for freedom, and for democracy was fought by men and women who valued freedom from an oppressive government even more than life. People died for the freedom we take for granted.

In recent weeks people in our church family have been involved in a number of battles. These have not been fought with guns, and cannons, but with spiritual weapons, and faith. How many have fallen and broken a bone? My 2 year old grandson broke his leg. Several folks in their 80’s and 90’s have suffered from broken bones, and injuries. Others have lost loved ones to battles with cancer, or aging, or other accidents. There have been the battles of change. People are moving and thus, people we have relied on are gone. There are changes in homes as young persons go off to college. We are happy for peoples’ new opportunities, but there are big life-changes for families too. I have noticed for myself a kind of “battle fatigue” that has come as I have tried to help others through their losses and battles. I have sensed my own feelings of heaviness, and grief. I am sure some of you have felt the same way.

I believe in “spiritual warfare.” There is an real enemy who is seeking to defeat us, and discourage us, and to cause us to give up our faith,. Paul the Apostle wrote to the Ephesians, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood…but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6.22)

King David faced similar battles and fatigue. This week I have been reading Psalm 31. Here, King David is sharing his prayers, and his struggles with the Lord. O Lord, I come to You for protection…” (v, 1). He lists some other struggles… “Pull me from the trap of my enemies (v.4)… Lead me out of danger (v. 3)… I am in distress; my body and soul are withering away…(v. 9).

We all face similar battles. Physical battles, contain emotional battles (and visa versa). So how can we cope? How do we deal

with life’s hard things? David shows us several strategies here in Psalm 31. He has learned to trust in God’s goodness, and sovereignty. “How great is your goodness…” (v. 19). He has learned to find shelter in God alone. “You hide them in the shelter of your presence…” (v. 20). God is available to be our shelter also. David finds some strength in praising God, and remembering His past blessings. ‘Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love…(v. 21).

David has discovered God’s strength and blessings, and the help that comes from worshipping Him. Discovering his source of hope and strength is a blessing to us, because we are reminded that the same God of hope and courage is available to us.

So when you’re watching those fireworks this July 4th, remember the battles and wars of the past. But also remember how God provides for us during our tough times, in the present! The end of Psalm 31, gives a word of encouragement. So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.” (Ps. 31.24).

I Pray that you will sense God’s help as you seek to be strong and courageous. May you also notice how He has already been working in your life, and in others!

Blessings to you,

Pastor Mark