Summary: A sermon about finding hope in God during the Corona Virus.
“A Message of Hope”
Are you on pins and needles with everything that is going on in this world?
If so, you are not alone, and in many respects, this is a good thing.
This pandemic is new to all of us and not something that we have ever experienced before.
There is no precedent for those of us living in the 21st Century.
There is no established response, and therefore, you may find your emotions all over the board.
And that is okay.
That is normal.
Think about it, four weeks ago, it seemed to most Americans that things were great and under control.
We were healthy, many were wealthy, planning Spring Break Vacations, working while dreaming of the future—considering adding additions to our homes, spending frivolously.
Then—and consider how astounding this is—a microscopic virus appears and suddenly causes the shutdown of the entire world.
It brings things, a bit, back to reality, does it not?
I mean, we aren’t invincible after-all.
Our social structures aren’t
Impenetrable; we aren’t God.
Human-made security is but an illusion, and if the last few weeks haven’t shaken our collective pride to the point of admitting that, I don’t know what will.
How, then are we to understand ourselves?
During this Corona Virus pandemic, many of us are tempted to fear.
We might experience anxiety and even despair.
Some people have lost their precious lives, some have lost those whom we love, some have lived through the misery of the illness, some have lost their jobs, their income, and almost all of us are dealing with major disruptions to the normal flow of our lives.
How are you dealing with this crisis?
Do you have hope?
Or do you feel yourself giving in to fear and anxiety?
In our Scripture Passage for this morning, the utter hopelessness of Israel kind of mirrors our situation.
It was a very dark time for Israel.
Ezekiel himself was exiled to Babylon for 11 years, and during that time he delivered a message of doom and gloom.
Then, in 586 BCE Jerusalem fell, the Temple was burned to the ground and the Davidic Monarchy came to an end.
Think about it, everything they had ever trusted, everything that had given their lives shape and meaning was gone.
And worst of all—in their eyes, their God had been defeated by the gods of the Babylonians.
Could it be that their God wasn’t really Lord at all?
Or perhaps, God had deserted them in their darkest hour.
Israel was not only in exile, they were having a crisis of faith—and what could be worse?
And we hear their despair in verse 11: “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.”
And then, and then—as it always does—God’s grace breaks through.
And Ezekiel goes from a prophet of doom and gloom to a prophet of hope—revival, restoration—preaching about a glorious future of redemption.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
This prophet of doom and gloom says that “the hand of the Lord” picked him up and placed him in a valley of dry bones.
What a dark night of the soul that must have been.
Have you ever had a “dark night of the soul”?
Have you ever looked around at your life and your situation in life and seen nothing but, metaphorically of course, a valley of dead and dry bones?
Imagine Ezekiel’s situation.
God gives him this vision.
And all he sees for as far as the eye can see are bones.
Old, dead, dry bones.
Where is the hope?
Where is the life?
What good can come from here?
How would you feel in Ezekiel’s situation?
Would it be like a bad dream that you desperately tried to wake up from in order to escape the terror of it all?
And then, suddenly God is asking Ezekiel a question: “Son of man, can these bones live?”
It’s almost laughable is it not?
We are talking about old bones with no flesh on them.
They have been exposed to the elements for who knows how long?
There is no life in them whatsoever.
“Can these bones live?”
What would you say?
I wonder if I ever write someone off?
Do I ever get so frustrated with another human being that I say to myself: “There is no hope for this person.”
“They will never change.”
“They will never accept Christ.”
“They will never get out of the muck and mess they are in.”
“They are just going to keep on doing whatever they are doing until they die.”
“I give up!”?
Or how about a situation?
Do I ever think, “This ministry will never bear fruit?”
Or, “I don’t see anything good coming from all my efforts.”
“What’s the use?”