By Pastor Will Vucurevich
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)
At a recent pastors’ meeting, we were encouraged to share “God stories.” The man leading the meeting asked, “How have you seen God active and moving in your life?” The stories that followed were beautiful. From the simple prayer of a child answered, to medical miracles, restored families, and the fruit of faithful ministry being realized, evidence of God’s kingdom breaking into our community was evident. God is on the move in powerful and mighty ways.
This Sunday, we will be thinking through Isaiah’s description of the coming Savior as “Mighty God.” This rich image may bring to mind pictures of God’s might seen in creation: majestic mountain ranges, towering sequoias, powerful ocean waves, or thunder and lightning during a summer monsoon. God certainly displays his power throughout creation.
As I reflect on this description of the coming Messiah described in the book of Isaiah as “Mighty God,” I can’t help but think of our community here at Redemption Tempe. God is on the move in and through us in mighty ways.
All around us we know the weight of cancer diagnoses, financial struggles, marriages hanging by a thread, parents losing and grieving over lost children, natural disasters devastating the lives of so many friends and families. We learn the hard stories of friends’ incarcerated family members, or seemingly hopeless job situations. We feel deeply the tension of joy and pain as the news of a young couple’s unexpected pregnancy rests bittersweet on the smile of the couple that has begged God for years to grow their family. Our shoulders know the weight of the desperate mother’s weekly prayer requests that her son would be liberated from the chains of addiction, the urgency in prayer that God would respond before it’s too late. We hear the murmurings of the secret struggles, depression, anxiety, mental illness, and the common spiritual battles we all feel but rarely acknowledge.
In the midst of such brokenness, where is Jesus revealing himself as a Mighty God?
This can be a hard question to answer. In my experience, I’ve heard too many answers that prove to be too small for the scope of a tension felt this wide. We all know the deep-stomached longing for God to move and are sure we know how he should respond in our situations. My frustrations arise when God doesn’t seem to flex his might in ways I think he should. Nonetheless, he is still active and mighty.
We see his might on display when the scan shows seven tumors have shrunk. His might also gets a heartbroken daughter out of bed to clean out her recently deceased father’s home. We see his might on display in the friends and family members running towards the chaos and devastation in our lives, instead of explaining it away and ignoring the hurt. We see God’s might in the answered prayers and in the faith to continue the same request after years of seeming silence. We feel God’s might in the prayer of an 8-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, lifting her hands in blessing for her neighborhood. We hear God’s might speak through the lips of faithful saints who speak sentences saturated with Scripture at just the right time, saying the precise words we needed to hear. God’s might is on the move, powered and led by the Holy Spirit, in the lives of his people.
Our Redemption Communities (what we call our small groups) are full of these tangible reminders of God’s mighty power. Every Meal Train that is organized for those sick, or pregnant moms, or new foster families, reminds us that as Jesus bears our burdens—his word commands us to bear the burdens of one another. Every box that is moved as friends relocate shows glimpses of God’s power in determining the specific calling to a place for our life. His Spirit gives us the tears to weep with those who mourn and the joy to laugh with those who rejoice.
We can see God’s might displayed every month as volunteers share their own resources to love their neighbors experiencing homelessness at the With Collective. We see the mighty acts of a Good Provider when food is shared at the Rio Vista Center’s Free Farmers Market. As groups of volunteers stream in to distribute food—a dramatic embodiment of the Bread of Life who sustains us—we see his might in our midst.
We can’t wait to see God’s might displayed in the sharing of presents with families in need during our Affordable Christmas event. We see God’s might move mountains of donations to parents and children who could use some help this time of year, through the hearts and hospitality of our community.
Sometimes God multiplies the fish and bread to share with the masses, and sometimes he tells his people to bring frozen turkeys to give away!
Thankfully, God answers prayers through supernatural means. He also answers prayers in the real work of normal people like us.
We are in this together because he is in this with us. He is a Mighty God, who knows our burdens well. He cares and hears. He is close. Thankfully, he surrounds us with his family to share constant reminders of just how mighty he is.