Last Sunday I had a moment that was both comforting and unsettling.
During our worship service I asked everyone to close their eyes and raise a hand if they were currently facing extreme financial troubles. As the eyes closed, hands shot up throughout the room. It seemed half the congregation signaled trouble with an uplifted hand.
The solidarity and transparency of the room touched my heart. It is such an honor to pastor people who are honest about their lives. As the hands went up, I said some of my favorite words. “There’s no shame in your current condition … it’s just the way things are.”
I’m a firm believer in the power of community. Healing, restoration and comfort flow well in a loving community. Unfortunately, many of us hide our troubles for fear of judgement. Even so, hope is possible when we are willing to face reality together. Powerful answers can rise up in a room full of truth. Each raised hand gave me cause to believe in the possibility of a miracle.
Yet along with my respect for the sincerity of the room, I also was taken aback by the number of hands raised. Although I’m aware of many hardships, I did not expect such a strong response. Even though prayer was the task at hand, I felt as if the needs of the room far exceeded our church’s resources.
Ministry is a perpetual exercise in setting the table for a miracle. We call the community to gather and recognize that in and of ourselves we don’t remotely have what it takes to help each other. From this place of weakness, we call out to God. God as provider gives us resources beyond our human capacity. Miracles of provision, peace and contentment become the fruit of this faith endeavor.
Churches thrive in the realm of miracles. The miracle of shared values, shared dreams, shared love for each other.
Even so, it is frequently a daunting task to confront our weaknesses and limitations. In 10-plus years of ministry I’ve never had a day where I didn’t feel completely dependent upon God’s grace to meet the basic needs of the church I serve.
With this in mind, I have a strong suspicion we are entering a new phase in our church as well as the community at large. As this recession lingers, the integrity of our faith will be tested. Many of our brothers and sisters will face difficult decisions that call into question the certainty of God’s provision. All of us will feel the limitations of our strength.
Even so, I am convinced that my faith was created for days such as these. When the trials and troubles of life increase, faith moves beyond Sunday into the daily vicissitudes of life. Our prayers become daily provision, daily hope and daily joy. God comes near when this world seems to be crumbling.
All this to say, I am thankful for the realization that this is all too big for me to handle. For as I confront this truth, I am forced to make room for a miracle.
A prayer for every raised hand. Fear not. Be bold. Trust in God’s miraculous provision.
Doug Bursch hosts “The Fairly Spiritual Show” at 6 p.m. Saturdays on KGNW 820 AM. He also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.