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8 minute read

A Word of Encouragement

Jason Huddle: A lot of people are having a hard time dealing with this virus, not only from a financial standpoint , but also from a spiritual one. Many people I’ve talked to are having a crisis of faith. How could God let this happen?

Peace doesn’t just come because of an absence of a storm. Peace comes because of the presence of Jesus being there and so we can speak peace in the midst of whatever storm that we’re facing.

Why is this happening? If God is all knowing and benevolent, why is this happening to the entire world? All very valid questions. And I could think of no one better in the community to answer them than Pastor Dale Jenkins, from New Hope Worship Center.

So Pastor, lets let’s get right to it. Everybody is struggling. I know in your message to your congregation this week, you talked about everybody enduring a storm right now. There’s no exceptions. How do you answer the question about why is this happening? You know, how can God, who is a benevolent God, let something like this happen not only to our country and our community, but to the world?

Pastor Dale Jenkins: It’s a great question. Ah, that’s a question that obviously goes beyond just the moments that were living in. What we’re experiencing is unprecedented. We have never experienced anything like this, a worldwide pandemic of this sort. But the question itself that you asked is something that is a historical question. I think what happens is that we experience life all together, and the way that the Bible would frame it is this—it rains on the just and the unjust. They’re storms that we all face. They’re things that are difficult because we are facing things together, and we happen to be all in this collective storm together. But one of the things that moments like this do, is it helps us to discern and discover our priorities and maybe more importantly, our foundation. So, if there is a storm, the winds, the waves, the things that we’re experiencing in life, it really puts to test the foundation upon which we built our lives. I think a lot of that is what’s being revealed right now. What is the foundation? What are we depending on? What have we grown accustomed to? What is the foundation of our lives? And, of course, those things are testing that.

And there’s a parable that Jesus told someone who built their house on the rock, a firm foundation,

Pastor Dale Jenkins, New Hope Worship Center, Concord, NC
Photo Courtesy: New Hope Worship Center

Pastor Dale is the Lead Pastor of New Hope Worship Center in Concord, NC, where he has served since 1993 in various pastoral roles, including youth pastor, worship pastor, executive pastor, and lead pastor (since 2006). versus someone who built their house on the sand, and they experienced the same storm. But the outcome was different.

And so I think there’s an eternal perspective that we can have, relative to the earthly things that we experience. But the reality is, we’re all feeling the effects of this, and it is affecting a lot of people, godly or otherwise, church-going or not, and we’re having to grapple with that to find our source of peace that goes beyond our earthly circumstances.

Jason Huddle: In yesterday’s message, you talked about Jesus in the boat and the story of when he rebuked the wind and spoke to the waves, and everything calmed down. I don’t expect you to go into the whole message, but can you just give us the bullet points of what was your analogy between that and what we’re going through as a country right now.

Pastor Dale Jenkins: Sure. As with any story in the Bible, there are things that we can learn and apply to our lives. And as I read that story, I realized that Jesus was there. He was in the boat with the disciples and suddenly a storm arose, and it took them all by surprise. And I thought that really was a good picture of where we are right now. We could say that we’re kind of all in the same boat and we’re experiencing this sudden storm. But Jesus was there, and He rebuked the wind and he spoke to the waves. And it’s interesting the nuance of words that’s used there because…the wind is something that is unseen. You can see the effects of the wind, but you don’t see the wind itself. (You see) the waves, of course, the sea itself, the air, the physical entities that were affected by the wind. And so, I think with every storm that we face, there is that invisible dynamic, that spiritual dynamic, that is very real, although unseen by our physical eyes. This is where I think it’s so important for us to engage in things like prayer and petitioning the Lord and asking him to intervene, because there is that invisible dynamic. And so, we want to be very responsible, as believers, as those (who) are putting our trust in God to call upon Him, and to know that He is there in the midst of that moment— that storm that we’re facing—there is an invisible realm to this.

But yet, there is a practical aspect to this. And so, when Jesus spoke to the sea, he spoke peace. And I think it’s important that we, in our words, whether on social media, in our conversations with others, we have to be aware that what we say and even how we say what we say, really does matter so that we can speak peace to people in the midst of the storm, so that we can speak peace to our children. We can speak peace to those struggling with fear and anxiety. Peace doesn’t just come because of an absence of a storm. Peace comes because of the presence of Jesus being there, and so we can speak peace in the midst of whatever storm that we’re facing.

The Lord bless you and the Lord keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Jason Huddle: Exactly, I think you touched on it earlier with the story of the house on the rock versus the house on the sand. Both houses experienced the storm. Just because you believe in Christ, or in God, does not make you immune to what’s going on.

Do you think that part of getting through this is that people are looking for ways to reach out to people, to help people, even from a limited basis. Even though we really aren’t supposed to have a lot of contact with people, do you think that’s what’s gonna help get us through this is by getting out of our own private little boxes and looking for opportunities to help people, however possible, and come together as a community? Is that going to help our psyche in dealing with all of this?

Pastor Dale Jenkins: It’s interesting that you ask that question because I think it’s is fundamental to the human condition (that) we need relationship. We’re born for that. When God created human beings, He created all of the earth and all of the things that we know that exist.

So, on that world view, then we understand that God created all these things that God created with his own hands formed out of the dust. He formed human beings, and everything that God created, He said was good. There was only one thing that he said was not good—he said, it is not good for human beings…to be alone. In other words, He created us and designed us for relationship. And so, I think in this particular moment that we’re facing,…it comes down to that we have to love and to be loved. And what I love to see in our community right now is that we’re seeing that image of God being reflected.

Jason Huddle: I just would ask you to speak to our listeners (about) a message of peace. Just give them some encouragement. If they were all here together, what would you say to them to offer peace in this very tumultuous time?

Pastor Dale Jenkins: I think my words would, of course, from my context and an understanding that I’m talking to a lot of people who obviously have a lot of different beliefs and backgrounds. But from my perspective as a pastor, in fact, just my perspective as a believer, I would say, yes, it’s true. All of us are facing a storm right now, all of us, and that’s not often that you can say words like that. But, Jesus is greater than the storm, and that He is the One who can bring peace to you in the midst of the storm.

So whatever you’re facing, whether it’s this particular pandemic that we›re all feeling the effects of, or your own personal storm in your marriage, or in your family, or in your finances, or whatever that looks like, Jesus can bring peace in the midst of that storm. And our trust in our hope is beyond just that which we can physically and tangibly touch and feel in this earth.

Our hope goes much further than that. It’s beyond this world. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impact in effect this world, but what it does mean is that we have a hope that is beyond this world and our present realities.

In other words, we can have peace in the midst of the storm. And so, I would just speak those words of comfort, and to speak this blessing that is found in the Old Testament that the priests used to speak to all of the people. And they would say this often to them.

“The Lord bless you and the Lord keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. In the name of the father and of His son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

In the name of the father and of His son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Amen.