May 5, 2020
Making Lemonade

by Dr. Oliver Wagner, Senior Pastor

Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50:20
Reporting back to the seminary on our mission trip to Ghana, West Africa, my professor said of classmate Shirley Hutchins, “She had a way of making lemonade out of lemons.” I recall one incident when our van broke down and we waited by the roadside seeking shade with little water left to drink. Some of the children from the nearby village took an interest in us and soon — despite the language barrier — Shirley had those children laughing, singing and playing games. It wasn’t a broken-down van to her, it was an opportunity to make friends and share.

Still in the midst of our public health crisis, with so much death and job loss, not to mention all of the disruptions and cancellations of our normal routines and special events, it is premature to claim victory over the virus. But what we can do is identify ways we see God at work among us in new and creative ways. We’re videotaping worship services and adding impactful touches with music and photography. We are conducting Sunday School and meetings by video conference call. We’re supporting the hospitalized and grieving from a distance. We’re being church “without a building” in these days and even reaching new and more people than ever before!

The virus has caused much trouble, hardship and loss in the world to be sure. Its negative effects will continue for some time. But since we are people of resurrection hope we refuse to give into despair. Though we do not know what the future holds, we do know who holds the future. The story of Joseph is full of trouble, sin and despair, but in the midst of all the bad he endured, God somehow used it for good. It seemed all was lost, but in fact, it was through that period of being lost that salvation and new life were surprisingly found. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to look back upon these days and discover the same.
God of the ages, just as you used the tragedy of Joseph’s life to his people, so use all that we now endure to grow in faith and love. In this time of hardship, uncertainty and fear, draw all persons into your saving and life-giving arms. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009