Being unsupported, isolated or intimidated feels terrible. The Scriptures are full of stories where people doing God’s work were not being supported and were even being rejected by others. For example, the people in the prophet Jeremiah’s town were trying to get rid of him because they did not like his challenging words. To him God said, “I am with you, I will deliver you (Jeremiah 1:17-19)”. There were times in the life of Jesus when he was clearly not being supported. In Luke’s Gospel, when he returned to his hometown and began teaching in the synagogue, he was outright rejected by many. In fact, they were so jealous and upset with him they tried to throw him off of a hill. Jesus did not give in to their intimidation and rejection. He simply walked past them and moved on to another town (Luke 4:21-30).
Like Jeremiah, in our times of feeling discouraged, isolated or intimated, God says, “I am with you, I will deliver you.” In these moments, it is time to do what Jesus did and move on to another place. It is time to move on to places of confidence, strength and resolve.
We move on by letting past successes encourage us instead of being intimidated by past failures. We move on by literally creating an environment of calm, solace and peace around us. What we put into our lives is what we get. Constantly surrounding ourselves with noise, non-stop activity, negative people, mean-spirited music or movies results in lives that feel noisy, frantic and gloomy. Taking quiet walks, undisturbed time alone, listening to soothing music, regular spiritual reading and steady contact with a circle of positive people brings about lives that feel focused, peaceful and hopeful.
Moving on from present discouragement, isolation or intimidation happens by remembering past times when we made it through something difficult, when we had a great sense of God’s presence with us. When the crowds were ready to throw Jesus off the hill, he must have remembered his Father’s love for him, and with that, he moved on to another place. How wonderful to know we have the good company of Jeremiah and Jesus when it is time to move on.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector