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One Sure Thing!

“I don’t know, Pastor. I just don’t know.”
I could count on hearing that concern on every visit to the home of an elderly shut-in. He had been a faithful congregation member for decades. At that time a widower in his 80s with health declining and his family’s lack of interest in spiritual matters a deep disappointment, he expressed his uncertainty about many things.
He is not alone. “Uncertainty” sums up the worldview of many. Health, employment, even the stability of our nation all seem tenuous. Decency and morals which once were assumed values have been abandoned. In our own personal lives we know how quickly things can change.
Trying to see what lies in store for our congregations is unquestionably an uncertain activity as well. Will there be an uptick in information classes and a growing membership, or will difficulties test our resolve to remain faithful to the Lord? How will our joint work as the CLC unfold? Will our missionaries have easy access to souls around the world, or will restrictive, anti-conversion laws be an obstacle? How will we minister to the flocks in our own land in light of the severe shortage of pastors and teachers? There is so much that we just don’t know. It would be extremely discouraging if not for one important thing we do know.
The Old Testament believer Job was well acquainted with uncertainty. With breathtaking suddenness he lost everything: family, possessions, and health. He didn’t know what would come next. He fully expected to die. Still, he did not give in to despair. He held onto one absolute truth, one thing he knew for sure: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27 NIV84)
Job knew this with absolute certainty because God does not lie. “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind.” (Numbers 23:19 NIV84) God had promised a Kinsman-redeemer to intervene on behalf of sinners, crush Satan’s head, overcome death, and win eternal life for all. Job knew the Redeemer would come in the fullness of time and do all these things, and He did. St. Paul writes, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV84)
That one sure thing is the antidote to all our uncertainty. It gives us new confidence. It assures us of a solid foundation for our life and work. Like Job, we don’t know whether health or possessions will disappear tomorrow, but we do know that our Redeemer lives and rules over all things at the Father’s right hand. He bled and died for you. There is no way He is going to leave you to fend for yourself. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” He promises (Hebrews 13:5 NIV84).
Our Redeemer lives! We are not serving a dead hero, but a living Lord. Therefore, even the most daunting problems are opportunities for Him to put His love and power into action for our blessing and the ongoing work of preaching Christ to the world. By faith we know the tomb is empty, so we can confidently trust that Jesus already knows how He is going to provide messengers to serve His people with Word and Sacrament in the years ahead. He already knows how He will untangle all the knotted anxieties of our hearts with the peace of forgiveness. He knows how He will encourage and inspire us to let His light shine everywhere until we, too, with resurrected and glorified bodies, see Him with our own eyes and with our own voices sing His praises forever. This we know!
Michael Eichstadt is pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and president of the Church of the Lutheran Confession.