With all the changes and challenges afoot these days at NCPC, you may feel a bit unsettled. We have said goodbye to several families, including leaders who have been relocated for work, and this trend will continue for a bit longer. Add to all these changes our financial struggles as a church and it could make a recipe for real uncertainty. So how should we respond? While we don’t know all the answers as to why God does things, here are a few sound biblical principles that we can give us grounding:
1. God has promised to build His church. We spent a whole Sunday morning on this recently, so I’ll refer you to our recent sermon on Matthew 16:18, but this promise must be our rock when things shift beneath our feet. Is it not sweet to know that the church stands on Jesus alone and not on any one of us? It is tempting to think that our “success” as a ministry is based on having certain leaders, ministries and plans in place. Those are good things to be sure, but the hope rests on Jesus’ unfailing promise to finish what He has started among us.
2. Times of uncertainty reveal something about our hearts. When finances are down, it can reveal that we tend to rejoice in God only when things are going well. When a dear friend or pastor or leader moves, it can reveal that our hope is in people far too much. The deepest reality for us is that we live every breath completely dependent on God – “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Could it be that at least part of what God is doing is revealing the sandy foundations we tend to pile under our feet, hoping and trusting too much in people and prosperity? Could He possibly be pressing us to see that He is the only One strong enough to bear the weight of our spiritual well-being?
3. God is moving the troops for the good of His broader church AND our good. This may sound strange, but if we recognize God’s complete sovereignty AND His loving purpose, then we must be able to say that He has good in mind for NCPC in these times of change. Yes, we all would easily admit that He is going to bless other churches as these beloved friends go and minister to these other believers. We know He is caring for His broader church as these mature servants go to new ministries. But do we also believe that His taking them from us is also for OUR good? Now don’t get me wrong on this point!! I am not saying that we’d be better off without them! Far from the truth. But, for some reason which perhaps none of us can know yet (or may ever know) God will use the time of stress, sadness, and transition to work in our hearts and move us to seek His face as a church. In Paul Tripp’s words, God will take us where we didn’t want to go to accomplish in us what would not have happened otherwise. God has a good plan that even extends to times of struggle.
4. God wants us to depend on Him and cry out to Him. Make no mistake, this MUST be our response in all circumstances, but particularly in times of change and struggle. David’s words in the psalms should guide us:
Psalm 5:1-2 Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. 2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
In his “groaning” (time of struggle) he calls out to God for help. He knows deeply where help and stability is found:
Psalm 5:7 7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
In this Psalm David’s specific situation is different (he is pursued by enemies), but his call for help and his trust in God’s power are needed for us today.
Psalm 5:11-12 11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. 12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Run to Him today! God’s shoulders are big, and he wants to hear your struggle. Will you call to Him and receive hope and help? Let’s seek our Savior together, and rest in His perfect plan for us.
Praying with and for you,