The following is a letter I wrote recently for the monthly newsletter at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Norwood Young America, MN. I was asked to submit it to the local paper and thought I would follow up with posting it here as well.
God’s grace and mercy are with you as you follow Christ out of this Lenten season.
I recently read the account in Luke where Christ fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and then was tempted by Satan. It struck me how crafty Satan is. Not only did he try to make Jesus doubt who He is (“If you are the Son of God…”), but he also tried to use God’s Word against Him, quoting Scripture to Christ as reason for Him to disobey the Father’s clear Word.
Satan will use any means necessary to ruin us, even twisting God’s Word against us. We still see this in our world today. In the last couple of months our community has lost 2 young men to apparent suicide. I don’t know all the details connected with these tragic deaths, but I do know that the types of messages that Satan whispers into the minds of those who consider suicide.
Satan lies to us saying that we can never be forgiven for things we have done. LIES! He tells us that the world would be better off without us. LIES! He tries to deceive us into thinking that God wants us to take our lives. LIES! Sometimes he tells us that life just isn’t worth the pain of living, or that taking our life is the ultimate way to get back at those who hurt us. LIES, LIES LIES! Or like he did with Christ, he tries to use times of weakness to convince us to do things that will result in serious injury or death. All LIES! The worst part is that his lies always sound so much like the truth. He wraps them in truth so that we will eat up his lies.
Satan knows the things that will get to us the most. He knows the things that will tempt us to turn from God’s way or to doubt God’s Word. It is what he did in the very beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is what he did with Christ in the desert, and he is still playing the “doubt card.” But God’s Word is clear. He loves and forgives us. He created us with a purpose in this world. He wants us to love not only Him but ourselves and others too. In lonely and difficult times it is normal to feel despair and simply want the pain to end, but He calls on us to not give up. In those times when we are at our lowest – when we feel like even those who should be there for us are not – we need to hear God’s Word of promise that He is the Judge who will make all things right. He will bind up our wounds and wipe away our tears. In times of weakness we are not called to put God to the test but to trust in His love and His strength to carry us through.
In times of deep sadness like this we have an opportunity to offer God’s love, care, and compassion to each other and those around us. I encourage all of you to put into practice the things God has spoken to us in His Word, by using whatever gifts God has blessed you with to bring His healing touch to our community. Pray that God would show you how you might help. Talk with others about it. Pray some more and then do what God has put on your heart. May we hear Him in His Word and may we do His will. As we do His will, may the world give thanks and honor to Him. May all grow in faith, hope and love toward God.
Living Forever, Now,
Pastor Michael James Grannis