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Good and bad things!

I was really excited about blogging today about the wonderful things that God did at NDC this past weekend. My great Good Friday began at 12 o’clock when I had my follow-up appointment to get the results of the excision procedure which was performed on March 31 to remove cancerous melanoma cells from my right shoulder. I was blessed with the good news that all the cells have been removed through the procedure. Debbie and I then had a very enjoyable lunch together and then we visited her mom, where I was able to hook up a new TV that will help my mother-in-law some time as she is in bed most of the day. As we drove back home we made the best time ever driving back from Morrisville, Pa. I was excited about the Easter Cantata, because it very much felt like things were getting back to normal. There hasn’t been much over the last two years that has felt like normal, but the Easter Cantata this year was a glorious time of celebrating in music what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. We topped off our special weekend with a wonderful resurrection service on Easter morning and I was delighted to have my Jersey girls there with my mom and some other family friends.

That was the good news for sure from the weekend, but life isn’t just filled with good news. Many times these days it seems like there is a dark cloud in every silver lining. On Monday afternoon our music director contacted me to let me know several people who sang in the Easter Cantata had tested positive for covid and that was followed by a call from my administrative assistant that she also had tested positive for covid. The rest of the week has been filled with more reports of positive covid tests. I’m reminded on occasions like this of Job’s words after he had lost everything, all his wealth and all his children and yet he stated, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord,” (Job 1:21 NKJV). Remember in the story of Job, Satan had told God that if He took Job’s blessings away from him Job would curse God to His face, but that’s not at all what happens. Job’s resignation to the divine will is remarkable. He professed that all that God had given him, all his wealth and all his family, God had the right to take it away. He assumed no inherent right to his possessions or family. Job proved Satan a liar. Although Job was left a childless beggar, he justifies God’s trust in him. Job could find it in his heart to bless God, even when God had allowed all these things to be removed from his life. There is a life that does not consist in the things which we possess, that is infinitely superior to possessions and independent of them. People can be godly apart from material gain.

However, Job losing all of his possessions and children wasn’t enough for Satan. He implied that all Job cared about was himself and his physical health, and if God allowed Satan to touch Job physically that Job would curse God. And that’s exactly what Job experienced when Satan sent huge boils that covered Job’s whole body. As Job’s going through this relentless physical suffering, we read this difficult conversation between Job and his wife which states, “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips,” (Job 2:9-10 NKJV). This may have been the worst and cruelest temptations that Job faced during this great calamity. It is a very painful thing when a man’s foes are those in his own household. His wife is actually joining with Satan and trying to destroy Job’s faith. She added temptation to his affliction by advising him of the sin and curse God. Through all his losses and confusion and pain Job maintained his integrity, even as his wife pointed it out as a weakness. The word “foolish” in Job’s response doesn’t mean silly or ridiculous, but rather she was acting as one who rejects God and God’s revealed will. Remember the Scripture states, “the fool has said in his heart there is no God”. Job’s actions and words demonstrate his trust in God and vindicated God’s confidence in Job.

What does all this have to do with a small outbreak of covid following our Easter Cantata? I think it’s profoundly important for us to maintain our trust in the living God of the universe, who cares for us even in the midst of our storms. The last two years we have seen a repeated series of restarts and comebacks at NDC. As we look to the future let us remember it is the Lord who giveth and the Lord who taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. We also must remember that it is God who is at work in the midst of our struggles, as Paul reminds us, when he writes in Romans, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” (Rom.8:28 NKJV). Paul doesn’t say that all things are good, certainly an outbreak of covid is not a good thing. But what he does teach us is that God in His providence orchestrates the events of our lives – even the suffering and temptations- to accomplish those things that will be not only for our temporal benefit, but also for our eternal benefit. I’m trusting God to move and work even through the difficult things that we are experiencing this week. Won’t you join me in believing that God can bring good out of bad things?

Rejoicing in the Risen Savior,

Pastor Rich Sivo

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