The song by Carrie Newcomer “You Can Do This Hard Thing” has been a go to song for me when things are hard. Perhaps I am feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, afraid, stuck, worn out… and life seems so unmanageable. I was reminded of this song when I read our verses in John 6 and the response of the disciples.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” John 6:60
School has started for just about everyone, fall is in the air and summer is coming to a close. Lots of change and transition and hard things. Some of us are sending young adults off to college or young ones to preschool or kindergarten. Some of us are struggling to find employment and provide for daily bread. Some of us are facing challenging health conditions. Some of us are trying to discern next steps to take care of aging parents. Some of us are learning to parent children at a new age and stage. Small changes, big ones, and all the in-between changes can challenge us.
There are many hard things to do. During the preaching series on John 6/bread -one week in worship you were invited to write out your “grumbling” list and your “gratitude” list. Many folks remarked on how often the same items are on both lists. Challenges at work and grateful for a job. Struggling to parent a child and giving God thanks for the gift of this precious child. Frustrated at trying to learn how to use a new technology and grateful for the ways we will be able to share inforamtin. Grateful to live in Colorado and frustrated with all the traffic. Grateful for our spouse and frustrated by their busy work schedule. And on and on. In it all- Jesus is with us.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them John 6:56
In following Jesus, it can be a challenge is to trust Him especially when it’s really hard. The word “abide” is used 8 times in John’s gospel. It is sometimes translated as “remain”. This weekend we have it in our readings for the first time. This week I invite you to take the word “abide” to heart. Let the word abide be a call to you to trust. Trust Jesus is with you in the hard things and in the joyful ones. Trust Jesus is with you especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, afraid, stuck, worn out and life seems so unmanageable.
Jesus.When we have our grumblings, our doubts and disappointments- to trust Jesus to be with us in the hardest places can be a really hard thing. The teachings of Jesus take his disciples and us to hard places- calling us to enter into relationship with God and one another. We are in this together. Others can partner with us in trusting community of One of the most powerful ways for me “abide” in Jesus is by asking others to help me in trusting Jesus. Abiding in the love of the Christ allows God to work through God’s people.
It sounds a lot easier than it practices. There are many hard things in life. We may tell ourselves we have to go it alone. That’s not true. Jesus is with us always and in all of the hard things. And Jesus also calls us to do hard things like loving our neighbor. This will take us out of our comfort zones. Loving our neighbor isn’t just loving the people we like or live near, agree with or look like- Jesus calls his followers to love all. Love all.
And we will fail, disappoint, forsake, betray and abandon Jesus just as his disciples did. One of the really hard things can be to admit that. Then sometimes, even harder is to let in the love that heals, the forgiveness that is underserved, the grace that saves us. This is a hard thing. We get to keep learning to do this together. We can do these hard things.
As we move into fall, we will be focusing in worship on the power of connecting and making connections. We will continue to share and hear faith stories of fellow travelers on the path of following Jesus. When we share our stories and listen to the stories of others they are seeds planted to help us abide- to help us trust especially when it is hard.
We launched our member connection software REALM. It’s been hard to navigate the nuances and glitches, the changes and the challenges. It will be a great way to connect with one another and it’s hard to learn new ways of sharing information. We can ask for help and offer help. We don’t have to go it alone. We will make mistakes and there is grace for that.
In the hard things that you are needing to do this week may you have the willingness to ask for the help you need and the openness to receive it. And may the grace of God surround you, the love of Christ sustain you and the comfort of the Spirit encourage you. Pastor Margot