“Overflow with Hope” Devotional | March 23

Each Monday during this season of remote living and learning, the Chapel Office is sharing a devotional written by a member of the Gordon community.

By Rev. Bob Whittet, chaplain

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:20b (NIV)

As I sit and write this devotional, I am in my eighth day of self-quarantine following being in the United Kingdom during spring break with the Wood Fellows. Life in self-quarantine means limiting myself to two rooms in our house to protect my wife, Jean, in the event I picked up the COVID-19 virus while in the U.K. I feel great and am counting down until my 14 days have passed so I can give a hug to the one I love and enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting in the same room together.

Maybe you feel like me, and in these uncertain times you’re more aware than ever of who you are with and not with. On one hand, you might have a renewed sense of appreciation for those who are near, while on the other hand your heart might ache for those you wish were with you. Physical presence matters more to us now than maybe we have given thought to in a long time.

Jesus’ promise to be “with you always” was to propel the Church, us, into the future as he prepared to ascend into Heaven. Three years of ministry among the disciples filled with wisdom, love, teaching and miracles led to his death on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for us. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and anything seemed possible. The disciples now gathered one last time with Jesus, and he challenged them with the words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–31 NIV).

The challenge had been laid out and the promise of God’s presence followed. It’s as if God gave the challenge and then said, “I’m with you; we’ve got this!”

Throughout Scripture, whenever God challenged people to take on a bold task, God often gave them the promise of God’s presence to embolden them to action. Moses, Gideon and others were encouraged to take on challenges knowing that God promised to be with them. As the people of Israel left Egypt, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:21–22 NIV).

For many of us, the COVID-19 virus is the greatest challenge that we’ve ever experienced. It has disrupted our lives and forced us to alter our plans and lifestyles. We fear for loved ones, we fear the virus and we fear the future. We face an enormous challenge, and feeling unsettled is appropriate.

Here is what we cling to: In the midst of it all, God is present. God still goes before us. When we look at a map of the world, every single place is known by God and present to God. God is present.

Right now, we are a scattered community. May we be the hands and feet of Jesus in the places we find ourselves. As we distance and isolate ourselves as part of our national effort to curb the virus, take a few minutes and check on neighbors and relatives who might be at risk. Be sure that their needs are being met.

In the coming week, keep looking for God’s presence around you. Make a list the instances in the past that God has shown up in big and small ways. Keep that list active throughout our time apart so that we might have a great celebration of God’s presence when we are back together.

If you have a prayer request, or if you have seen God’s presence in a way that would encourage others, please share your requests and/or testimonies with us by emailing them to chapel@gordon.edu. If you feel God’s absence, reach out to us so we can speak words of hope over you. Our Chapel staff is ready to pray for, rejoice with and grieve with you as we receive your emails.

God is present, and we are held by our God. Let’s support each other in every way we can. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus where we are in this season and let’s be reassured that we are not in this alone. God is indeed with us always. Watch for God.