• For Facing Pandemics … and Life’s Heartaches: Hope for Shaky Times

    Surge Summary: Helpful in 2020’s craziness, COVID-19, riots, fearfulness: Wisdom from a pastor who survived personal, family tragedy about remaining resilient when things are grim,

    bLarry Tomczak

    It is because of hope that you suffer. It is through hope that you’ll change things.” – Maxime Lagace

    It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Unexpectedly, in the middle of a perfectly normal day, you are contacted and told that your teenager has been in a tragic automobile accident and is approaching death.

    Over 10 years ago, Steve and Sarah Berger who serve together in overseeing Grace Chapel, one of the most vibrant and influential churches in the Nashville area, were plunged into this traumatic experience. Not long afterward, their 19-year-old son, Josiah, a committed Christian, entered into the presence of the living God he loved and served.

    The Bergers posted this message for all to read: “Sarah and I wish to thank everyone for your unequaled love and support. We have fought the good fight of faith, prayed without ceasing and trusted Jesus. Now we have the joy of realizing our Josiah is in heaven. We take great pride and joy in his decision to donate his organs. Josiah will now live on in heaven and earth. Hallelujah forever! To God be the glory!”

    Subsequently, Steve wrote an excellent book to instill hope in people in a similar circumstance or facing fear for the future, “Between Heaven and Earth: Finding Hope, Courage and Passion Through a Fresh Vision of Heaven.” All the proceeds from this book go to support “Josiah’s House” an orphanage for boys and girls in the Dominican Republic founded and named in honor of Steve and Sarah’s incredible son.

    In my previous commentary and podcasts I highlighted prophetic leader James Goll ministering hope by the way he handled disease, debt and death. I cited a nationwide survey revealing that during the COVID-19 crisis almost two-thirds of Americans admitted feeling hopeless, anxious, depressed or lonely on at least one of the past seven days.

    With all of the unsettledness and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis, in addition to recent racial riots, we need all the encouragement we can get so we don’t succumb to despair, anxiety or fear. For Christians it is an opportune time to bear witness to fearless faith in a living God guiding and sustaining us in extremely challenging times.

    May it be said of us as it was said by Paul of the early Christians he served, “We boast about you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you are enduring” (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

    3 Points to Ponder and Practice

    Remaining resilient following the traumatic experience of losing a son plus drawing from 30 years of ministry helping individuals thrive not merely survive through the storms of life, Steve Berger recently shared with me wisdom that brings hope to all of us during these turbulent times.

    1. Persevere in perilous times.

    The Bible graciously gives us a “heads up” for the days in which we are living. “Know this: In the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1). The Greek word used here to describe this time is the same word used to describe the condition of the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5:1-17). Prior to the Return of the Lord, conditions will not merely be bad, they’ll be mad!

    Steve said the Scriptures he gives to everyone in these days of the pandemic are the words of Jesus after He warned of unsettling times to come, “In your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:19).

    He emphatically challenges us: “Get a grip!”

    People outside of Christ, whom we are called to reach with the transformative message of the gospel, are plagued by tormenting thoughts regarding finances, health and the future. We are to “do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world. Hold forth the word of life. …” (Philippians 2:14-16).

    Steve, his wife of over 30 years and their family of four have persevered and impacted multitudes of lives in this area and beyond. We’re called to do likewise without “murmuring (complaining) or disputing” (arguing) as we persevere in faith through these trying times.

    By perseverance the snail made it into the Ark.” – Charles Spurgeon

    The darkest hours are just before dawn.” – English proverb

    1. People-watch to gain inspiration.

    Growing up Catholic and attending Mass faithfully, as a youth I was bored but developed the skill of people-watching at Communion time. I studied their faces, their clothing and if they were cute or cool!

    When I took the Strengthsfinder assessment to discover how God had “wired” me, I found out that my No. 1 strength was that of a “learner.” When I spent time with Steve I sensed we share the same spirit to glean from others and grow.

    Dale Carnegie, the Christian author who helped countless millions of people overcome worry and communicate fearlessly to succeed in life, said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” How relevant this is for people feeling hopeless amidst the COVID-19 crisis and escalating racial tension today.

    To anyone tempted to “throw in the towel” regarding health issues, a job search or financial setbacks, remember Abraham Lincoln’s journey:

    1831 failed in business
    1832 defeated for legislature
    1833 again failed in business
    1835 sweetheart died
    1838 defeated for speaker
    1840 defeated for elector
    1843 defeated for Congress
    1855 defeated for Senate
    1856 defeated for vice president
    1858 again defeated for Senate
    1860 elected president of the United States

    Historians almost unanimously agree: Abraham Lincoln was one of the two or three greatest presidents in America’s history! He endured when it repeatedly seemed like the end!

    1. Put things in perspective.

    Steve believes this time is for personal and national repentance to experience a Third Great Awakening. He stated passionately, “Our turn causes God’s turn!” He reminds us that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is preceded by a time of judgment – drought, devastation and disease – to jolt God’s people to realign with a Holy and Just God. We’re at a tipping point for America, and the time is now to wholeheartedly respond.

    In a tumultuous time like this, it is easy to lose perspective and think this has got to be the worst time in history – but it’s not! There is chaos, confusion and consternation, but it is in times like these when roots can go deeper, character be developed and the book of Acts church comes to life!

    One should be able to see things as hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Here’s the Deal: Five of the seven churches in Revelation were told to repent, and God is saying the same to us in America today. May we be filled with hope that the best is yet to come. Let’s persevere and keep God’s perspective.

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.

    Originally posted here.

    Image: https://www.pikrepo.com/fqkrp/never-lose-hope-graffiti

    Larry Tomczak

    Larry Tomczak, with over 45 years of trusted ministry experience, has trained leaders and planted dozens of churches in the U.S. and abroad. He’s the author of 10 books including the 1/4 million bestseller “Clap Your Hands!” and the innovative, video-supplemented “Bullseye Challenge” which develops informed influencers in 30 days. His weekly commentaries reach millions on Charisma News, World Net Daily, Barbwire, The Christian Post, ChurchGrowth.org and Intercessors for America. He’s a speaker for professional sports teams and currently seen on the major Christian TV networks and heard weekly on “InfoAmerica” broadcasts.

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