God wants his people to be “okay”—that is the encouraging message City Harvest Church’s executive pastor Aries Zulkarnain shared with the congregation recently.
On the weekend of April 29 and 30, members of CHC were greeted by a giant emoji of the okay hand signal and a question mark on the church’s LED screen—a most unusual title for a weekend message.
“Many people have been asking me if I’m okay,” explained Aries Zulkarnain, executive pastor of City Harvest Church. “I just want you to know that I’m okay. God wants us to be okay.”
He began his message by suggesting to the congregation a new way to look at challenging times. “We can decide that the story God is writing about us is not over yet,” he said. “We need to trust God and continue to walk together with Him, trusting that we will ultimately see His salvation.”
Sharing from Romans 4:1-3 (MSG), the pastor preached that Abraham had reached a turning point when he realized that his life story was not actually written by him, but a story written by God. From then on, Abraham learned to trust God and enter into what God wanted him to do.
“Listen City Harvest, what we are going through is only a scene in a story God is writing. The story has not ended; the Author is not finished with us yet,” Zulkarnain said.
“The beautiful thing is God’s story always ends with a positive,” he added.
Matthew 24:13 says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Zulkarnain encouraged the congregation with the reminder that God’s story always ends in salvation, thus it is important to endure to the end.
THE JOURNEY MAKES YOU
Zulkarnain quoted the founder of Word of Faith Worship Center, Bishop Dale Bronner: “The shortest distance to your destiny is up mountains and through valleys. The journey develops you. Trust God and learn to enjoy the journey.”
Zulkarnian emphasized that the shortest distance to the end is not necessarily the easiest or the fastest. The shortest way is Jesus’ way: through mountains and valleys.
Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Zulkarnian highlighted that it was often the shadow of death that scares a person rather than death itself. The shadow represents thoughts in a person’s mind—uncertainties, fears, and insecurities—that often make a problem appear far worse than it really is.
“Jesus has conquered every death,” Zulkarnain declared, “so don’t let shadows paralyze you.”
In Acts 27:9-22, Paul and his fellow prisoners were being transported to Rome in a ship. They were caught in a shipwreck because the centurion trusted in the captain’s experience more than the voice of God—Paul had forewarned them that they would meet with disaster.
The ship did meet with a storm. In verse 22, Paul said, “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.” This may convey the idea that the ship will make it through the storm and everyone will land safely, said Zulkarnain. Yet Paul also said the ship would not survive.
“Sometimes it’s the same in our lives: our salvation is not what we expect it to be,” he said. “Eventually, everything will be okay, but we must first go through this shipwreck.”
Zulkarnain added, “Our prayers may not always be answered, but everything will be all right in God’s hands. Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget that we can find treasures after every shipwreck.”
Quoting writer Thomas Merton, the pastor shared, “Sometimes, no explanation is sufficient to account for suffering. The only decent thing is silence… and the sacraments.” Christians need to go to the house of worship and perform their daily devotion to God.
He ended off his sermon with Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (MSG), telling the church what they should do while waiting for their miracles.
“Sometimes, while waiting for the supernatural, we fail to see the natural,” he said. “Take a good look around, appreciate it, and give glory to God.”