Mid-week Pastor’s Update 1/4/2023

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

January 4th, 2023

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Happy New Year! I hope your 2023 is blessed, filled with joy & fulfillment for you & your loved ones. Though it’s been gray and soggy for the most part so far, we know it will lead to beautiful greenery on the hills, and hopefully a significant dent in our drought conditions!

I’d like to share with you a thought process I went through last evening: you may know that each Tuesday evening we need to get the church’s dumpsters pushed up to the front of our property, to be collected Wednesday mornings. It’s something I have on my schedule each week: sometimes there’s some help, sometimes there’s not, but it’s not a big deal. What I do mind, though, is when it’s cold & rainy when I have to do it (which fortunately only happens a few times a year, given our climate). Working hard, while shivering and getting soaked? Ugh!

But, last evening was one of those. So I was grumbly as I headed to the church, and I was grumbly as I walked over to the dumpsters on the far side of the parking lot. And, though I was somewhat happy to see that only 2 of the 3 needed pushing, I was grumbly again to see that it was the “hard” and “medium” dumpsters that were full, the “easy” one to push being empty (I’ve learned their temperaments!)

And so, I pushed in the drizzle, taking breaks every now and then, thinking about what lay ahead for my week and all. I struggled a bit to keep them out of the trough in the driveway where the water runs down (which was a little tough, as they were slippery).

But as I finished the 2nd dumpster, and started to go back to the church to wash my hands, I realized something: I wasn’t cold anymore! I was warm to the point that I took off my jacket and slung it over my shoulder. My inner furnace had “revved-up” at the work I was doing, and I was toasty warm! I actually felt I could’ve pushed that 3rd dumpster without too much trouble.

And I just thought what a life lesson that was: something you dislike doing, grumbling as you’re approaching it, pushing through it (in my case literally), but you find it actually strengthens you and makes you more accommodated to the hardship (in my case, the cold) afterward.

And I thought of how many times and ways through life that principle rings true. We may struggle greatly in a high-school or college class, but we trudge through it, and are better for it in the end. We may be intimidated by the discipline needed for a new stage of life (say, starting college life, or entering the military, or prepping for a marathon, what have you). And I of course remember how my toughest year of life, my student missionary year in Costa Rica (which I’ve mentioned before), really grew my faith and ‘toughened me up’ for further chapters of hard work & potential discouragement in my life.

So we find that development is accomplished through adversity & perseverance, rather than ease and lax discipline (which is what we much more want in the short-run!). I believe God knew this as numerous times he called his servants to work through a problem, rather than simply be carried through it. He increased the workload of Adam & Eve in getting their food from the earth after the fall. He called Noah and his family to construct a boat to survive the flood (rather than providing it for them). He called Moses & the Israelites to trudge through the wilderness, learning perseverance and dependence on him, rather than simply transporting them to the promised land. And he let the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” remain, rather teaching him that “My strength is made perfect through your weakness” (2nd Corinthians 12:9).

And Jesus, no less than any of the others, learned submission, obedience, and perseverance through incredible hardship, that he might become our Savior and worthy of the praise of the entire universe (see Philippians 2:6-11). Whereas I’m certain Jesus received praise and adulation before his incarnation, how much more once the angels & unfallen worlds saw how far he was willing to go to save the lost!

So, in light of that, I’m going to try to anticipate the benefits of challenges & hard work, rather than begrudgingly approach them. I pray you’ll be able to face difficulties similarly in 2023 and beyond.

May God be praised for giving us the strength and resources to overcome many an obstacle (See Jesus’ 7 promises to “overcomers” in Revelation 2 &3)!

May God bless your family this week and beyond, indeed for the whole of 2023.


Pr. Mark Tatum

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