Since last Sunday we have been meditating on God’s unchangeable promises as we opened a new year. The first promise of God we pondered was God’s promise of new life made through the water of baptism. I hope we could continue to experience this new life as we remember our baptism and remain thankful to God and as we practice to die to ourselves and live only with Christ every day. The second promise we are looking into today is God’s promise of faithfulness.
I found this touching letter from The Guardian. This letter was written by an anonymous author, and it is about mother’s unchanging faith in him. I want to share this letter in part with you this morning. The title of the letter is, “A letter to…my mother, whose faith in me keeps me afloat.”
“I am a man in my mid-20s who still lives at home with you. I say home not because I own the building or play any part in the upkeep or running of the house, but because you have made it…clear that it is a place that I am always welcome…I am unemployed and feel down and out. I don’t feel that I have achieved half the things I should have at this age, particularly in the social arena…Everyone my age seems to be out and about enjoying their young lives…Instead, I stay inside the house and watch life pass me by. I fiercely resist any opportunities for change and reel off to you the same tired excuses, dressed with a few new words…on countless occasions…
You tell me that everybody feels this way and that I am not alone. I ignore all your sage advice, convinced that my situation is unique and determined to remain miserable. It must be incredibly wearing. Anything I tell you, you keep to yourself with unquestionable loyalty. However much I blame you… and refuse all help… you have never thrown in the towel. Instead, you remain in the ring and continue to batter me with a ferocious, unyielding love… You deserve someone a lot better. But you have me instead. Your relentless faith in me brings me to tears. No matter how I’m feeling within myself, whether I hate myself, my life, my existence … you still love me… And you will never let me drown, no matter how much I self-sabotage…
I’m blinking away tears as I write this because you have just walked into the room… I avoid eye contact, so you can’t see my wet eyes. You tell me to get some rest because tomorrow you are going to sit with me and we are going to go over job applications together. So you can start this all over again. Pushing me, encouraging me, backing me, fighting my corner… I said to you once, “There’s no point because I’ll just make myself fail.” Your reply was simple. “I won’t let you”… I am convinced that there is a God because people like you don’t just happen by chance; you were created. You are my armor. And I love you with all my heart.”
No matter who he is, no matter what he does, his mother’s faith in her son never changes, and this faith indeed keeps him afloat. Her relentless faith in him enables her to keep embracing him, encouraging him, and loving him. We cannot imagine how big and genuine the mother’s faith is. But we know for sure… it is her faith in her son that empowers her to remain in the ring and fight his corner.
In our lives, we may have one, or more than one persons who have such faith in us. They could be our parents, family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues, or church members. I am sure that their faith in us raises us whenever we are down and brings us back to the right track whenever we fail. And I am so sure that we can live our lives on our own terms now because of those who never lose their faith in us and keep saying to us, “You are doing well. You will do better. I trust you. I have faith in you.”
In today’s Scripture readings, there comes another one who has tenacious faith in us like our mothers’ and even more than that. This faithful one persistently comes to us and calls us into relationship… calls us even before we were born and cares us since then. “The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me” (Isaiah 49:1). This faithful one not only comes and calls us but also decided to be like us, be incarnated in Jesus to lead us on the way of new life. “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). The one who creates us, the one who redeems us, the one who sustains us…yes, our God is the one who has deep, deep faith in us.
Not just the lectionary readings for today, but the whole Bible actually bears witness to God’s faithfulness. It is not an exaggeration to say that the main theme of the Bible and the core truth that the Bible communicates is God’s faithfulness. Through all the testimonies of people in the Bible, through all the historical and legal writings, poems, narratives, proverbs in it, the point that the Bible most clearly makes is, “Through it all… through it all, God has been faithful to us and God will be.” The Bible is not a collection of happy stories and glorious histories. From a human point of view, the Bible is rather a record full of troubles, oppressions, suffering, and persecutions… However, the Bible testifies that through it all, God has been faithful to us, even when we are not. And God will remain faithful to us until the end.
In our lives, even the people who have faith in us may turn away from us, and along the way, we may betray their faith and hurt them too. But there is the one who will never lose faith in us, and that one is our God. And this is what we believe. No matter who we are, no matter what we do, God is faithful to us with God’s love and grace.
Sisters and brothers of Christ, let us remember that the God, who came to make covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, comes to us today. Let us remember that the God, who called people from slavery and exile, calls all people from darkness from all around the world today. And let us remember that the God, who became like us to save us, keeps the promise of new life today. This is the good news for the people of God. And this faithfulness of God is what we should bring to others and let them know.
Whenever people turn back from us, whenever we are down and out, whenever we can’t see any hope for the future, whenever we hate ourselves and totally lose our faith in us, let us remember that there is the one who never loses faith in us. There is the one who still comes inside us, calls us, and loves us unconditionally. If we remember this truth along the way of our lives, after all, we shall be able to testify, like our ancestors of faith, “Through it all… through it all, God has been faithful to me, and I know God will be always.” May God’s grace be with all of us today and lead us to feel and experience God’s faithfulness always in our lives. Amen.