Well, if you haven’t noticed, this church has a lot of young families. We all know at least a family or two with young children and if you have you asked one of those parents how they’re doing lately their response probably sounded something like this: “Life with a newborn has been challenging. I’m really, really tired. I don’t know what routine is like any more; and things like relationships, Bible intake and prayer feel…different — if they even happen.” And as you’re listening, you realize this person sounds discouraged.
Whether parents of young children or not, difficult seasons of life find all of us. I’m sure many of you are in one right now. So, I have a question for you: what does God think of you in this difficult season? Perhaps you were once the most regular Bible-reader around but now, in the midst of a chaotic week just trying to keep your family afloat, you’re not even sure where your Bible is. Maybe you used to have plenty of time to develop and maintain deep, life-giving friendships, but the demands of your job seem to be forcing those relationships to the fringes and you’re losing touch with those once-close friends.
In these times, what does God think of you? And, what do you think of you?
There are two terms I’ve found extremely helpful in thinking through difficult seasons in my own life. They are these: union and communion. Everything I just talked about with Bible-intake, prayer, and relating to others fall into the category of communion. Simply put, communion is relating to God and his people. And communion is not always consistent. We oversleep or we hardly get any sleep. We get busy or fall into laziness and don’t make time for these foundational habits of grace. That ‘busy season at work’ seems to be year round now, and there’s a growing distance in our relationships.
Union, however, is very different. This union is our union with Jesus himself. All who are trusting in Jesus are united to Jesus. And being united to Jesus means that he is in us and we are in him. Does this union ebb and flow? Change like the weather? Suffer seasons of distance and hardship? Gloriously, the answer is no!
Our union with Christ is based on his finished work — on Jesus’s own constancy and steadfast love. Does Jesus grow tired and weary? Does he get too busy for you? Is he forgetful? No! Our union with Christ is permanent, stable, unbreakable and infinite.
So back to our question: what does God think of you in your difficult season of life? Where does he look to determine this? To our communion? Or our union? You see, we so often look at our communion to define our standing before God, and no wonder we feel so unsure about his love for us.
But God looks at our union. Which means that when we are at our most pathetic, most broken down, most defeated — when we’ve forgotten how to pray and haven’t read our Bible in weeks and have been absent from God’s visible family — union with Christ means that God’s love for you has not wavered. Not an inch nor for a second. He is here, he is near, with grace sufficient for our every need. Grace to press on and to press in. Grace to draw us back to him. Because he sees us through our union with Christ.
So the exhortation this evening is simple: in this difficult season, see what God sees: look to your union, not your communion.