When my brother Klemet and I were students at Clayton High School, we both played on the same intramural basketball team. One Saturday we went to play a game at Wydown Middle School. When we arrived, we discovered that we were the only two from our team that were there. The others were all sick or for some other reason couldn’t come. The team we were to play against told us we had to forfeit. We replied, “No way! We’re not forfeiting. We’ll play!” The other team said, “You don’t have a chance! It’s two against five; you can’t win.” “We’re here to play,” we said. “We’ll see what happens.” So we played, and we had a blast. I don’t know if I ever had so much fun playing basketball. Of course, we lost! It was way too easy for the other team to score. But I will never forget that game! What fun we had!
Do you ever feel as though you are outnumbered? As though the deck is stacked against you and you can’t win? Do you look at the obstacles ahead of you and wonder how you can possibly overcome them? As a servant of God dedicated to serving in His kingdom, how do you react under such circumstances? Do you acknowledge the difficulties and “forfeit the game?” You do not! You go forward in spite of the trials ahead and you do it with joy and confidence. And not as a silly child in a lost cause like our basketball game. Because there is a great difference between the basketball game my brother and I played and your service in the ministry. What does the Apostle Paul say?
If God is for us, who can be against us?... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present not things to come, nor powers, no height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 31, 35, 37-39
You have the absolute of assurance of victory in the end. How comforting that truth has been during this year in particular. The virus just keeps going on and on and discouragement grows. Add to it the rioting and the political strife. We could truly be worn down emotionally if what the world offers us is all we had. But God offers us so much more in His Son! In the first place, we are forgiven and, as Luther says, where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. And you, as ministers of Christ, have been dispensing this forgiveness, life and salvation throughout your ministry. It has been in the face of great obstacles, times of grief, perhaps even of failure. But in the end you know that your service is not in vain. In the Lord you will triumph and how many others will triumph through the power of the Word they heard preached from your lips?
As always we thank you for your support, whether in the form of prayer or encouragement or gifts. In whatever form you support us, the consequences are eternal.
May God sustain you. In the face of discouragement, never forfeit. Play on. The victory is yours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dr. Daniel Preus, Interim President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis