By Eric Burgdorf, pastor at Hope Free Lutheran Church, Wyoming, Minnesota
I have confidence in confidence alone!
Besides, which you see, I have confidence in me!
–Richard Rogers, in The Sound of Music
As I assume is true for many my age, movies were a rare privilege as a child. The anticipation lasted all day: watching for Dad to get home, eating a quick supper, and in the car to leave! I actually was too young to follow the plots. My parents took us three boys to Lucky Twin Drive-in to see “South Pacific” and then a few years later to the Mann theater in Minneapolis to see “The Sound of Music;” and I groaned every time a song started—especially “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Years later I started thinking about the character Maria walking, skipping, dancing on her way to the Captain’s mansion singing the song “I Have Confidence—In Me!” Good for her, she’s got what it takes, and we can be inspired by her.
And then something like a car accident, a house fire, a death in the family, or COVID-19 comes along and we realize confidence in our own strength is useless. Our feet are knocked out from under us and we see how weak we are, and how little we actually can control.
The reality of COVID-19 is that we have little control: Flatten the curve, hope for a vaccine, stay away from everybody, a lot of people will get sick, some really sick, some will die but we will get through this—and then the real blame game will start. A lot of “confidences” will be shattered, new guidelines will be made, etc. And life will get back to normal.
But I don’t want normal. I want something that I can put my confidence and hope in. Easter Sunday is about confidence—not in me but in Jesus. “In Christ Alone, My Hope is Found” is the song we should be singing. Verses two and three take us from Christmas, to Good Friday, to Easter, and to Judgment Day. It is a message of confidence in Jesus:
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
–By Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, 2001.
Let’s let the meaning of Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter really sink in. Then we will understand a little of what we read in Revelation: God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Jeremiah 17:7 — Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
Psalm 71:5 — For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.
II Corinthians 3:3-5 — Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
Revelation 21:3-4 — I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Deuteronomy 4:29-30 — If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.
Father in heaven, grant us the courage and faith to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a holy and certain hope, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those who trust You and who follow You as Lord of our lives on earth. Help us, we pray, in the midst of things we cannot understand, yet to believe and to trust that You are our Savior, especially in the most threatening chapters of our lives. AMEN.
“In Christ Alone” by Celtic Worship (you gotta love those bagpipes!):