Economic struggles, health care concerns, marriage difficulties, not to mention the day-to-day struggles of friends and family relationships, the list goes on and on of things in which we daily struggle. Many of us strive to figure out what we did wrong and how we can fix it.
The reality is that we live in a world and a culture of death and struggles. None of us like to admit it but it is part of our human identity that we are dying and that we daily fall into temptations and error. We can strive to live our best life now, we can ask the questions of the rich man in the Gospels, or the jailer in Acts, "what must I do?"
Jesus tells us that we must keep all the Command-ments: not commit adultery, not murder (including hatred in our heart), not lie or speak ill of others, and honor our father and mother. All of these things we have done in thought, word, or deed. So the question remains, what must I do?
Our Lord tells us to repent, which means not to just be sorry but to turn away from, and believe in Him. This man Jesus is God in the flesh, the one who lived without sin, suffered and died on the cross and gave the forgiveness of sins in his body and blood. This man Jesus, who died, was risen from the grave to give life, for death had no dominion over him. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What must I do? Receive the gifts of the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive his Word. His Word which says that all nations, all people, are to be given baptism, his Word which says this baptism now saves you. This is the identity of faith, being given the name of the Lord. It declares you holy and forgiven.
There will continue to be the daily struggles that we all have, but being given all that we have in this body and life, being given the gifts of forgiveness and life, we can receive the gifts with joy. We can rejoice and be glad for what we do have in this body and life. We can mend our relationships knowing that our Lord has died for our sins and the sins of all people and we forgive each other. Being given these things, your light will shine. Your good works come in your daily vocations in helping and serving your friends, families, and neighbors in need and those little things you do everyday.
Our Lord never promised popularity or abundant wealth or perfect relationships. What has been promised is that there will be struggles and temptations and that your sins are forgiven through faith in Christ. What has been promised is enough to support this body and life. What has been promised is eternal life. Rejoice and be glad for yours is the kingdom of God.
• Pastor Christopher Amen is with Bethlehem Lutheran Church and School, www.blcs.org.