Dennis W. Foust
A statement of purpose for the Vocatio blog posts from Dennis W. Foust:
“My purpose in this blog is to provide thoughtful reflections, stories, statements, and quotations affirming and nurturing active faith, vocational discipleship and the experience of spiritual calling offering life-giving direction, meaning, and purpose for the holistic health of the world. As a pastoral minister fully committed to equipping people for Ministry in Daily Life (MDL), this is merely an equipping resource. If anyone is encouraged, enlightened or inspired by this blog, please use that experience in your MDL and the purpose of this blog will be fulfilled.”
A NEW ST. JOHN’S MINISTRY
O CHRIST, THE HEALER
This Coronavirus pandemic is a reminder of how humanity suffers every day. For many of us, a health concern or fear is an interruption to what is often a routine (and seemingly self-sufficient) life. Yet, for many other individuals, suffering and living on the ragged edge of fear and vulnerability is their daily existence.
In 1 Corinthians 12, just before that popular chapter describing the character of love, we find these words: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (vs. 26-27).
If you are anxious or afraid today, please remember you connected with others who are also suffering. It is helpful for us to pray for one another and encourage one another. We can learn from those who suffer.
Through decades of pastoral ministry, I have often been encouraged by persons in the midst of their anxiety, fear, and suffering. I’m thinking of a woman named Dorothy who said these words just before going into surgery to remove a brain tumor that gradually took her life, “There truly is a peace that passes understanding.” I’m also seeing in my mind’s eye a man who was injured in an accident. His life was altered in every way imaginable: work, activity, relationships, financial capacity, and family. In one visit he gave me a perspective that often renews me during anxious times. Andrew learned through the significant changes in his life, That his prior understanding of ‘trust in God’ was way too shallow. He said, “Trusting in God means TRUST IN GOD FIRST AND MOST IN ALL WAYS AT ALL TIMES FOR ALL THINGS. Even my work to walk again required me to trust God as my helper.”
Yes, beloved, anxieties and fears are real. Suffering is real. Yet, we are not alone. God is our shepherd, our shelter from the storm, our refuge and strength. Jesus Christ revealed to us God’s power by his miracles of healing. He was not a magician or a sorcerer who transformed every life into a ‘happily ever after’ ending. Every person Jesus healed or raised from the dead later drew their last breath.
Christ embodied God’s power to heal. His acts of healing are one of many doorways of entrance into embracing God’s living embrace offering salvation to us. Yet, our salvation is best realized as we pursue and claim God’s gift of human wholeness. This wholeness includes our embrace of one another’s suffering, fear and anxiety. As we serve one another by being attentive to our shared suffering, we also participate in God’s power of healing and contribute to the health and wholeness of the body of Christ and the whole human family.
As Jesus prayed while facing his arrest, suffering, and death, his trust in God provided a peace that surpasses shallow human understanding. As followers of Jesus, we walk his path.
Consider the message of this hymn composed by Fred Pratt Green. After you read and reflect on these words, make a list of people who may need your encouragement. Call one person or email one person each day. You will find NEW DIMENSIONS OF THE PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING and your TRUST IN GOD will deepen.
1 O Christ, the healer, we have come
to pray for health, to plead for friends.
How can we fail to be restored,
when reached by love that never ends?
2 From every ailment flesh endures
our bodies clamor to be freed;
yet in our hearts we would confess
that wholeness is our deepest need.
3 How strong, O Lord, are our desires,
how weak our knowledge of ourselves!
Release in us those healing truths
unconscious pride resists or shelves.
4 In conflicts that destroy our health,
we diagnose the world’s disease;
our common life declares our ills:
is there no cure, O Christ, for these?
5 Grant that we all, made one in faith,
in your community may find
the wholeness that, enriching us,
shall reach the whole of humankind.
Dennis W. Foust