Floods, fires, pandemic, wars and rumours of wars
Floods, fires, pandemic, wars and rumours of wars—the world has been a rather dark place these last few weeks. It can be difficult not to be downhearted in such times.
The other day I woke up too early and spent way too much time lying there listening to the latest news and refugee interviews out of Ukraine—it was not a positive start to my day, needless to say. After getting out of bed, I opened my email to find a devotional blurb had arrived overnight which the Lord knew I needed before I did:
Just remember he’s not worried about tomorrow because he has already worked that out. He’s inviting you to live with him in the joy of the moment, responding to what he puts right before you. The freedom to simply follow him that way will transform so many areas of life. He loves you, and he wants you to live in the security of that, without having to figure everything out. (W. Jacobsen)
In these evil and uncertain times, we can only cling to the truth that stead-fastness and certainty, faithfulness and justice are attributes of God, not of man, as the Psalmist so eloquently writes: “O Lord, your faithfulness reaches to heaven; your steadfastness to the sky; your beneficence is like the high mountains; your justice like the great deep;…How precious is your faithful care, O God!.…With you is the fountain of life; by your light do we see light.” (Ps36 Tanakh)
As well as David knew and loved God, we are privileged in Jesus to know him in a way that even he did not - as a toddler knows a parent, to experience that familial closeness and security. Being in Jesus means he walks us into the
Throne Room for us to sit on God’s lap and tell him all we feel and see, what we mourn for in this world. And Jesus who is already praying, laments over the agonies on earth with us and draws our simple prayers into His. Our perfected prayers are drawn into that intimate conversation Jesus is already having with his Father, the very One we are told to call our Father.
The rock-solid faithfulness of our Father, the God of justice and light, is the only antidote for all that we weep for whether in our personal struggles and illnesses, the terror of those fleeing war, or the untold stress of those whose homes have been inundated by floods or destroyed by fire. In such times we are often encouraged to look to texts like Paul’s: “…we don’t focus our attention on what is seen but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but the unseen realm is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18 TPT). And although our head tells us that is true, frankly, in the midst of deep trouble, texts like that can sound hollow. We tend to feel, ‘yeah, that’s great for you Paul, with your amazing theological mind, but we’re down here in the trenches, so to speak, and what do you know about that??’ But Paul wasn’t just throwing out platitudes. He had already described the kinds of struggles he and his partners had experienced: “…we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. Indeed, we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us…we‘ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives!” (2Cor. 1:8 NET, 2Cor 4:8-11 MSG)
In these dark and sober times, there is no earthly agenda, no matter how evil, which can thwart God’s rescue plans for the world he loves. We know the end of the story—God wins, and in Jesus, humankind wins also. The evil one cannot prevail, none of the human schemes will be the end game. The Lord is already the victor and knows all that is going on in the war zones of the world, and in the lives of each of us as individuals. He is ever-present, nothing is hidden from his view. As The Message so beautifully phrases it, “…even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” (2 Cor 4:16)
There is nothing happening in our personal lives or on the global stage which is beyond the power of the cross to redeem. That unfolding grace leads us to more deeply appreciate that we truly do live in the very lap of the Triune God..