See now that I, even I am He, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.–Dueteronomy 32:39
Greeetings readers, and thank you for taking a look at my blog. It has been a while, once again, since I last posted anything. Thank you for your patience. I have been getting myself ready and making lots of plans for returning to work in my pastorate at Peace Lutheran here in Rapid City, SD. It has been almost 6 months since I was placed on medical leave by the elders of my congregation. I praise God, who kills and makes alive, who wounds, and who also heals. His own Word bears this out in Deuteronomy chapter 32, our OT reading for Palm Sunday, this weekend.
It has been a very difficult road. Pastoral burnout, depression, and situational anxiety, with added grief due to multiple deaths in our extended family, all played a major role in my sinking into “the pit” so to speak. Most of those things a lot of people do not understand, so you can add that to the mix of what I was constantly dealing with. But after months and months of not receiving any relief for all of that, God gave me a wonderful gift. I got placed on medical leave. This alone did not solve all my problems or fix everything that was wrong. There was a lot of hard work to be done and several different physicians of differing specialties to consult; medications to be tried out in order to find the right combinations. There were difficult talks and challenging meetings with officials from the congregation, and officials from the district office.
It seemed like every step of the way I was being challenged on this journey, or my faith being tested in the things I was learning from God in His Word, or confronted with something in therapy, or from some of those other difficult conversations. I would also say that thankfully, most people were nice and supportive, but there were some who were not and took a much different approach where I and my wellness were concerned. And it was very hurtful, and injurious to my healing process. Why would God allow these things to happen on top of what I was already dealing with?
Why me? We often ask that question, don’t we? In fact, it is usually the first question that comes to mind when things become difficult for us. And then we must remember that God is the one who kills and makes alive again. God is the one who wounds and then heals. He tests our faith to see if we have really learned anything, and moves us toward repentance and further trusting in Him alone, above all things. The only real question is in whom do we trust when things become so difficult in our lives.
That is what this text from Deuteronomy is really about. In the beginning of the text is the Lord reminding that He “will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants.” And He follows this up by mocking those who place their trust in other gods and practice idolatry. Now idolatry can come in many different forms. It is always fearing, loving, or trusting in other things above God. We can fear and love the one true God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), but still trust in other people, or things, including ourselves. More likely than not, when things get difficult, we trust in ourselves. That is what happened in my case, and I ended up trying to give to others from an empty cup so to speak. What can you give from an empty cup? Nothing good, I can tell you that!
The good news for us is this…We DO have a God who vindicates us, and has compassion on His servants. Though it may be hard for us to understand, we have a God who also kills and makes alive; who wounds and also heals. We have a God who nobody can take us out of His hands or snatch us away from Him. “Nothing can separate us from the LOVE of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
God’s peace to you as we prepare to meditate on our Lord’s Passion!
Thanks for reading!