What to do when it feels like death?

November 17, 2016

By Jeff Jones*

Originally published on Pastor Jeff's blog at WWPJB. Reprinted here with permission.

In the year King Uzziah died, the prophet, in his grief, turned to God in the Temple. For many of us, there may be a feeling that our hope for the new king, has died, and we turn to God. There is hope, and a lot of it in this passage from Isaiah 6:1-8

In grief, anger, frustration, agony and surprise that can feel like shock, we have the situation that Isaiah was going through, before he was called to be a prophet no less. The grief pushed Isaiah toward the temple, while there he had an encounter with God and it changed his life. In our grief, we too should turn to God and find the same blessings in the midst of tragedy or uncertainty.

What can help you to connect to God? For Isaiah it was the temple, it was the music he heard the singing of Holy Holy Holy and it brought him closer to the source of comfort. In his recognition of his own life circumstances the connection to God was a fearful one. But our loving God responded to that fear with forgiveness. The Seraphim brought the burning coal from the altar and it touched his lips and he was pronounced healed, forgiven, purified. The anger, frustration, fear, anxiety and confusion went away. In that cleaned up moment, he was able to hear God more clearly. He heard God say, who will share my message with those who need it?

He responded, here am I, send me!  He became a prophet, a spokesperson, a representative for God and did some awesome things proclaiming the coming of the king, our Jesus.

So following Election night, some of us are filled with grief, anger, frustration, loss of dreams and what could have been, afraid that awful things will now happen, etc. We need to seek God's help for sure. And the answers are going to be the same, and the results can be powerful.

As we reach out to God, we can sense that we aren't perfect, the world we live in is not as we thought it might be, hence the" I am one of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips." We are all in need of forgiveness. Some of us have hoped that the form of government would put our Christian responsibilities into law and do the work of faith for us. Others have hoped that the government would encourage us so that we would grow more numerous and stronger, not put up barriers to our practice of faith, nor put into place much of what we may feel goes against God's will. But we are of unclean lips and in need of forgiveness.

Our loving God gets on that right away. We are forgiven. We can hear a message of hope from God and can respond. We can remember that we as Christians have not always had the favored position. The first Christians had the Romans over them, which sometimes included being fed to the lions for having faith. Not every form of government has always totally appreciated what they believe in. And yet they did what God and the Kingdom of God would have asked for, or at least tried it. And we can do that too.

But first, before we resolve to fix our concerns, we need to act as Christ like in this situation as possible. Paraphrasing Galatians 3:27-28, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; {There is no longer Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative} for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." We are going to have to be touched by God's altar coal to move to a more positive outlook toward one another.

Paul's words to the Ephesians, 4:1-3 "I likewise beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." is something we sorely need right now. Are you willing to be more patient and loving?

Micah too warned us about times like these and taught us to focus. "To do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God."  Micah 6:8. Those things are still important and still available to us, no matter who won the election. These must still be important to us. This must still guide our actions, thoughts, and demeanor.

John Wesley knew about elections. "Though we cannot all think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may, herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences."

In the midst of this grief, doubt, anxiety and anger, we can refocus on hearing God ask us to be about God's agenda still. We are called to be about the mission of Jesus still. There are people to feed, people to clothe, eyes to open, people to respect and care for. We must remember that the reforms that helped people the most, came out of individuals with a mission and purpose, and a faith to motivate them to good things. Rarely has it come from a President or Congress or business.

We look to and appreciate those who truly changed lives, often one life at a time. Harriet Tubman, Susan B Anthony, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, Rosa Parks, Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King, Jr. By their sheer will and determination, followed their dreams and made things happen. These individuals changed the world as we know it. We can be the next world changers, as we turn to God in our grief and anxiety, as we approach God, as we sense God's forgiveness and blessing, as we hear God's direction, we can make a difference, the one we believed in could happen.

A passion driven person can right a wrong, can write, speak, blog, recruit, collect and make a difference for a just cause. You could be the next one!

Out of adversity, can come a new resolve. Out of fear, can come determination. We can reject darkness, by working for the light, we can reject hatred, by working for love to grow and heal.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find a way to "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."  thank you John Wesley.  Or you can recognize "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr.

When it feels like Uzziah died in your world, seek God, accept the forgiveness, and move into proclaiming the good news. Now and always. Amen.

Pastor Jeff

*The Rev. Jeff Jones is pastor of North Bethesda UMC in Bethesda, and campaigned for a U.S. Congressional seat (Maryland, Eighth District) in 2016.