West Central Minnesota is a no-man’s land to many. One hundred and thirty miles from Minneapolis, about the same distance from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota, the area in some ways falls through the cracks. Things occur on the farms and in the small towns which generate little, if any, coverage in the larger metropolitan areas. That is ok with most of the people out here. We take care of ourselves. We don’t desire the bright lights of the city; that is some of the reasons why we are here. We survive because in many ways we are simple, undemanding and straightforward people. We enjoy hard work, freedom and accomplishment. Yet we get hurt also… This may not be news in the big cities but…
The real news out here is lived out in the lives of everyday people. Little victories, great victories and at the same time sadness is mingled with joy. Caroline Sandell Berg in her hymn “Day by Day” says in part: (The Lord)“Gives unto each day what He deems best, lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.”
I marvel at the common men and women who struggle each day. They struggle to make ends meet, carry out their appointed role as farmer, business person, parent, spouse, child, caregiver, and fellow Christian walking beside us on this earthly journey.
This last week I have been inspired by these people. A businessman and farmer, battling with cancer, loses his best friend and business partner unexpectedly; a shock and surprise to all. In his sorrow he said “I should have been the one who died. I mean people are expecting me to die of cancer but not Bob.” As a survivor, he wanted to give up, sell the business and move on. When I asked him what he would do, he said “Nothing” and then added, “and I would be dead in two years.” As we talked, I suggested he not make any decisions when he is grieving. He agreed that he will go on but through tears he said “Damn, Jerry, it hurts.” Yes, it hurts.
Listen to the words of Psalm 46:1-7: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Also read the words to the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. Be encouraged; God is still on the throne.
Last week I met a couple whose farm was hit by a storm. Their farmstead plus fields were hit. The TV cameras didn’t make it to their place; they weren’t asked and they wouldn’t want or expect the attention. Third generation immigrants wrangling out a good but hard life on the prairies of Western Minnesota, they have been through this before. The financial uncertainty, finding the physical will to clean up and keep going is tiring and discouraging. They wonder what God is trying to tell them. Job 37:11-13 says, “He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them. He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love.” Through a face streaked with tears, eyes red from crying, the tears flowed and we talked. We held each other in our arms and prayed and cried. We may struggle and get discouraged but God is still on His throne. He loves us and has a merciful heart. Come to Jesus and live.
What can we do? Listen, hope, pray, encourage, and endure. At times I too wonder what God is doing. Not in my life but in the lives of these dear people. I have met more and more people struggling with loss and loss of hope. They tell me no one seems to care. Last night I read parts of the gospels; Jesus was out among them (the hurting people of the world). We must be out among them. We must minister where we are planted. Go out and be among the hurting people. These people need help; not necessarily financial help but some one to listen without judgment or as one lady said, “not with smiling faces that mean nothing and washing over everything with warm fuzzy words that don’t satisfy.” We need to know God’s Word and lead them to God’s Word for Jesus was called The Word. And through the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit Jesus will console, encourage, restore, guide and heal. Keep your head. Time marches on and one day, sweet people, you will rest in peace.
Oh Mighty Heavenly Father, heal, encourage, restore, grant peace and rest to your tired and weary saints. You alone are our hope. Thank you for the cross; the work is already done. Thank you sweet Jesus; stay with us and guide us Holy Spirit. Amen