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Faith column: The pathway to hope

We experience the most joyous moments of our lives right alongside those devastating and tragic moments.

Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck
Flinck
Photo courtesy of Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck
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WORTHINGTON — The Memorial Day weekend is a recent memory — something which Pastor Ryan Enderson of Abundant Life Church in Worthington wrote about so eloquently in last week’s issue of The Globe: The idea that we are encouraged to “remember what the men and women gave their lives for, but most of all remember that none of us got here without the hand of God.” Pastor Ryan shares an excellent perspective on remembering, and it’s well worth your time to read it, if you haven’t already done so.

Sadly, last week, challenged us to a different kind of remembering because of the tragic school shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Because of this most recent event, we cannot help but recall the names of other schools that have had similar senseless and heart-wrenching losses — Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Columbine are among the locations that echo in our minds.

Trust me, I’d much rather be writing about something more uplifting. The beginning of summer and the many opportunities we have to bring on the sunshine and warmer weather — finally. The excitement that our graduating seniors are experiencing as they embark upon the next chapter of their lives. A look at the ‘Amazing’ Worthington City Band season that is just around the corner, featuring the Crailsheim City Band from Germany and the July 4th concert with The Worthington Symphony Orchestra and Brulé.

Any one of these would be a happier topic to address.

But such is life, isn’t it? We experience the most joyous moments of our lives right alongside those devastating and tragic moments. We cannot escape them. There is no possible way to predict when these tragic moments may happen. And it might seem as though we are powerless to do anything when they come upon us.

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But that would not be true. The Psalmist teaches us that God is always aware and present in our circumstances: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

So, first and foremost, we can always be reminded that God never gives up on us, especially when bad things happen. We need to trust that God is always there. This is a pretty huge deal, but are there other things we can do to help us move through those tough times?

Of course! We can seek out our friends and neighbors for comfort. The dynamic of hope is usually centered within community.

Haven’t you experienced that in your life? Something bad happens to you or someone you know, and the community is right there to help you or someone you know maneuver through it. Friends will be there for you, to comfort you, to stand by you, to support you when difficulties arise.

In the very same manner that God never gives up on us, those whom we know won’t either. The first letter to the Thessalonians says it very well: “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

Another way to seek comfort is to ask others who will pray with you and for you. James 5:16 teaches us to “…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Prayer is a powerful dynamic in our lives — even if we are not certain how our prayers are answered. That part might not be so important as knowing others are lifting you up in stressful situations.

I’ve discovered that another way to diffuse a difficult situation is to find ways to serve others. Helping others provides us with a focus that is different from our own. Sure, the problems may still be there, but something changes when you are helping others. We realize that we are not alone and that others need help as well.

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Proverbs 14 gives us a direction to be kind to the needy, because that action “honors God”. Even when we might be in need, reaching out to others can make all the difference to our situations.

Tragic events may continue to happen. At least we can know that there’s a pathway to hope, helping us work our way through those moments. The Lord knows we can embrace those good moments once again as we trust in him.

Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck is pastor at First United Methodist Church in Worthington and Adrian United Methodist Church.

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