Dear Fellow Children of God,
Have you ever thought about how we can take our blessings for granted?
This week our family received a letter from a young girl we sponsor for Compassion International. Astro Mesfin lives in Ethiopia. We have supported Astro and her schooling and Christian education for over 10 years with small monthly payments. In her recent letter Astro thanked us because our small gift had helped supply shoes, toiletries, and school supplies. She ended her letter by saying, “I pray for you with my family. Don’t stop praying for me. God keeps us alive and His grace is high.”
Ethiopians face many challenges. According to the internet the average yearly income for each Ethiopian is $1000 a year. Our small donations go a long way for people living in poverty. However, there is another danger for Christians living in Ethiopia. Conflict exists between Muslim and Christian Ethiopians. In Africa many Christians have died because of this conflict.
Astros’s choice of words, “God keeps us alive and His grace is high’ are a little different than the phrasing Americans would use. But they contain real truth and meaning. Yes, God does keep us alive, even in the face of poverty and violence. And yes, God’s grace is high. In Ephesians 3 we are told of Paul’s prayer for the Christians at the church in Ephesus. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, (Ephesians 3:17 b – 18)
You see, not only does God keep us alive through earthly dangers, but through Jesus God gives eternal life to all who believe in Jesus as our Savior from sin. That makes the poverty and danger some face in this life more bearable, knowing that God has eternity waiting. God’s eternal love makes all the struggles of this life ultimately inconsequential, because in heaven God takes them all away. As American Christians who have not faced the poverty and dangers others in the world face, do we take God’s love for granted because we are so blessed with affluence compared to the rest of the world?
And yes, our family does pray for Astro. After reading Astro’s letter in our devotions after supper our family prayed for Astro and her family. We thanked God that He keeps her family alive and that His grace is high. But, the thing that brought tears to my wife’s eyes was that Astro and her family, in the midst of their poverty and danger, are praying for us! With all the danger and poverty she faces, she is praying for us? It sort of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
I pray, with Paul, for each of you and myself. I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And, I pray that knowing this high love of Christ we may not take God’s love for granted, but may live lives that show His love in all we say and do.
A Child of God blessed more than I know by the love of Christ,
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.