What Am I Grateful For Today…Faith

11 Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith (Hebrews 11:1-2, Common English Bible).

When the day started yesterday, I was planning on talking about Holy Communion today. For most United Methodist Churches, including the congregation I serve, celebrated Holy Communion yesterday and I am truly grateful for the grace of God we receive in the Sacrament. That being said, I will talk about that more another day.

When I got home from church it wasn’t long before an alert flashed across my phone. The alert was for the disastrous shooting that killed 26 and wounded 20 others in Sutherland Springs Texas. Words cannot begin to describe the sorrow I feel for the members of that congregation that are left behind.

The fourteen-year-old child of the pastor is among the dead. I couldn’t help but think of my own boys who during their 14th year were children of a pastor, serving a small rural congregation in Texas.

When I watched the news last night I heard the question, “How will this community survive this?” A young man, in a separate interview simply said, “We will get through this.”

I do know what it will take to get them through. It can be summed up with one word, faith. Faith is what anchors us. Faith is our lifeline to the greatest source of strength known to the human creature. Faith is what helps us to bow on our knees to pray, even when we might not want to, even sometimes when we might question if God is actually on our side.

I know there are those who will use this tragedy as an argument against the existence of God. The argument will go something like this, “There cannot be a God. These people were there worshipping this non-existent God and look what happened. If God were real, God wouldn’t allow this to happen.”

I have said before, and I will say again, God gave us all free will. God gave an obviously very troubled man, Devin Patrick Kelley, free-will and he chose to use it in a way that was devastating for others. I could spend more time on that and have, but that is all I will say about it here (if you would like to read more on this topic see my post, “Where Was God?”).

What I really don’t understand is, how can people who make such arguments, people who have no faith, can make it through times of such difficulty. The only way I can see for any of us to work our way through times like what happened in Sutherland Springs and so many other settings in recent years is to live by faith.

Make no mistake, it will not be easy for the people of Sutherland Springs in general and First Baptist Church in particular. Having faith does not make things easy. Having faith is allowing God to carry you through life’s most difficult times.

It is my prayer that the people of Sutherland Springs will lean on each other, but also have faith that God will see them through this tragedy. Faith is the biggest thing that will help to see them through.

Because I know faith will see them through, today, I am grateful for the faith God places in our hearts. What are you grateful for today? Write it down in your journal and share it with someone else.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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