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Stand Firm, Hold Fast

STAND FIRM, HOLD FAST!
My faithful Friend: September, 2020
It has been distressing to witness societal disarray laid over what is being called a pandemic. The combination has ripped a hole in the fabric of our civilization, which was already severely torn, and has made clear that the responses to these calamities is pathetic, certainly misguided, if not criminal. All this as I watch for another night my once hometown of Portland in flames, but now it’s not just a family’s little pizzeria or convenience store on fire, but American flags and Bibles.
Those supposedly charged with public security appear incompetent or accommodating, probably both. And now those supposedly in charge of several American cities have given free rein to anarchist, and openly avowed communists gangs. Those once “mostly” (whatever “mostly” now means) peaceful protests by those sincerely aggrieved over the death of George Floyd have now been totally co-opted. Now it’s about the “Revolution,” just read their printed manifestos. It’s about the utter destruction of Western Civilization, and they make no effort to hide it, so I’m not surprised by the burning of Bibles.
This, while many of our communities have submitted to the dictates of a few “experts,” and shut down; in the case of America an economy in excess of 20 trillion, all because of a virus with a mortality rate that has now fallen below 1%. This, while millions have lost everything, thousands of businesses lost, gone, thousands avoid medical care for fear and their lives cut short, not to mention more thousands in depression and what follows from that. We were told to stay home, when it’s now obvious we should have been outside in the sunshine and fresh air. There is only one case of this virus being contracted outside. Our children should have been in school. They are over five times more likely to succumb to the seasonal flu than this virus. I know, of course, if you’re over 65 and not in great health, if you feel ill, or coughing, or you have one or two of the health issues that this virus likes to exploit you should use “common sense,” which seems to be sorely lacking. And extended care facilities should have been treated like ICUs. But taken as a whole the public reaction to this pandemic is one of the worst mistakes ever made. And the future will reveal that far more have died from the overreaction to this virus, than the virus itself.
When this kind of news piles up one needs to turn to the Bible, there are so many passages, but this time I turned to Philippians. There is Paul in prison facing possible execution by the Emperor (Phil. 1:20), dear Epaphroditus came close to death bringing a gift from the church (2:27), there was a conflict between two women which adversely effected the church (4:2-3), and then those who would “afflict” Paul “out of partisanship,” possibly those he calls “dogs” (1:17; 3:2). Despite this, I hear his triumphant notes! Paul rejoices that his imprisonment has “served to advance the gospel,” even to the “Caesar’s household” (1:12; 4:22). That he “count(s) everything as loss for the sake of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… And that He will “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus”(3:14). Then will add that he has, “learned in whatever state I am, to be content…in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret…I can do all things in Him who strengthens me”(4:11-13). His is victorious despite or because of everything that has befallen him.
Then for the Philippians, Christians just like us, he will say, “God who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion,,,” (1:6). That “God is at work in you, both to will, and to work for His good pleasure” (2:13), and “my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (4:19). There is, of course, so much more in this little letter, but I really like the little admonishments he adds. Words so pertinent for a time such as now, “Hold true to what (you) have attained” (3:16), “Stand firm in the Lord” (4:1), and “hold fast the word of life so that in the Day of Christ I may be proud that I did not labor in vain… (2:16). Let such words sink in, “hold true or fast,” Stand firm.” As always this is too long, just like my sermons, but let me close with my own translations of these incredible and timely words of Paul, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything make your request known with thanksgiving in all your prayers and supplications to God” (4:6).
Let us leave our anxieties with Him, trust Him, hold fast in our faith, and stand firm for the Lord, and in thanksgiving make all our requests known to a God, I know He’s listening.

He really is in control,

Thomas Randolf Wyatt

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