When problems come one after another, how does the believer find inner peace? In her message last weekend, Sun Ho taught that peace can be found when a person fills his mind with God.
COVID-19 has affected the way people live and work. Many have lost their jobs or investments and some may even have started questioning God’s purpose in these tough times. In her sermon over the weekend of June 6 and 7, Sun Ho, executive pastor of City Harvest Church addressed this, and encouraged the church with her personal journey of overcoming great pain and difficulty over the past 10 years and finding Christ amid the storm.
Pastor Sun started by sharing how the past decade was challenging for her. From receiving news of the investigation of the church leadership to recently, being diagnosed with an incurable illness, fibromyalgia, life seemed to be a series of bad news. Last year, the sudden passing of a close friend was the final straw, and the pastor found herself in deep grief and despair.
“When we are struggling, we need to talk to God and His people,” Pastor Sun advised. She went on to encourage the church not to be isolated even though, during this period, they have to practice social distancing. In times like this, they should be drawing closer to God and getting closer to friends and family through video calls and social media platforms.
Over the years, she said, she has learned to see things from God’s perspective. She reminded the church that what they go through in life now is to prepare them for eternity, where their destiny is to rule and reign with Jesus Christ.
“So the question we must ask ourselves is: what if the disquieting and dreadful places of life are designed to grow us from one stage to another?” she asked. “What if this COVID pandemic is meant for all of us to reset our inner compass on our Creator? What if there is truly more to our sufferings, our pain, our losses than what we see? What if God uses everything we experience in this life, the good the bad and ugly, to get us ready for the next?”
John 12:24 reads, “I tell you the truth unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
Pastor Sun said that many people might feel like that tiny seed that God has forgotten. “Like a seed, we may even feel that God has buried us. But He is not burying us—He is planting us. He is cultivating something greater in us, something of quality and quality takes time,” she declared.
A great artist takes a long time to complete a masterpiece. Pastor Sun gave the example of the Duomo di Milano which took 600 years to build. In the same way, God is working in His people and it takes time to build them into something great.
The Master does not require His people to understand the blueprint He has—all He requires of them is to trust Him, even when He works silently sometimes. She shared from Philippians 1:6 and Isaiah 41:10, where God reminds His people to not be fearful or afraid because He will strengthen and fortify them. He also promises that He will develop within them strength and fortitude to survive and to thrive.
GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS GREAT GAIN
With honesty, Pastor Sun shared that her two greatest fears are boredom and being out of control. However, in the last 10 years, through the difficulties she experienced, she learned to trust God more and to let go of the things—to God—that are beyond her control. In return, she gained Christ and became more surrendered to the Lord in her life.
She expounded on 1 Timothy 6:6, which reads, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”. The suffix “ly” in “godliness” implies the presence of value. Hence, to have godliness is to have a lot of God within a person–or to be God-aware and God-awed.
“To be so aware of God, that all day long, you are so conscious of who or where God is, and so aware of His person, and His presence,” Pastor Sun said. “Godliness means that I develop this awareness of him all day long, allowing my mind, my heart, my thoughts, and my words to be fully overflowing in His person, and His presence. To live knowing that He is the most important Person in my life.”
Godliness also means to be in awe of God, “The One who holds the universe in His hands, through Jesus came and died for us so that you and I can share His greatness and His glory. And He has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can be hardened and fortified to live as overcomers. Isn’t this amazing?”
Of the word “contentment”, she said, “Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction.”
She acknowledged that it is sometimes difficult for people to reach this state of contentment when most of them grow up in a culture that preaches the need to strive for more. Yet Isaiah 26:3 teaches “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in you.”
“When I have this assurance that God loves me no matter what, I don’t have to act like somebody or someone I’m not, or feel compelled to do something I don’t need to do. I can be who I am, by the grace of God, and the contentment comes—I can learn to rest in God,” she explained.
THE SERENITY PRAYER
Pastor Sun encouraged the congregation to go to a place of solitude to focus on Jesus once again where they can pray, sense and seek His presence. “The more we can trust Him, the more we will have this inner peace,” she said.
Pastor Sun shared her journey of surrendering what she can’t control to God, saying, “There’s nothing we can do about the part which we cannot control. All we can do is to open our hands and give it up to God. We must learn to trust God and not panic and worry over the things we have no control over.”
In closing, she shared the Serenity Prayer, reportedly written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1932, which she had been meditating on recently.
She explained that the hope Christians have in Jesus will not disappoint; even if things are not made right in this lifetime, He will make it right in the next. The last line of the prayer reads, “I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next. Amen.”
Pastor Sun noted that God never intended for earth to be heaven and all a person can get out of this lifetime is to be reasonably happy. She reminded the church that the important thing to do in a crisis is to learn the lessons God wants to teach them and to become better people.
“The true wealth to riches is having more and more of God, and being able to trust in Him more and more in every area of our life.”