Men, please join us this Saturday, May 16th, 8-9AM for our Men’s Ministry meeting via Zoom. Check your email for the link and info. We will have the opportunity to hear two brothers share on the topic of “Being Spiritually Alive during this Time,” followed by discussion and prayer.
The world has changed and, as far as anyone knows, it won’t be changing back anytime soon, if ever. Blame abounds in a crisis. Depending on your perspective, this one can be blamed on Wuhan, or Washington D.C., or dark powers orchestrating conspiracy from a bunker beneath Vatican City. Yet none of those attributions ascribes sufficient power to the one who is power itself, the one who“works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). In blame we sometimes forget that God alone is master of this moment: “He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth and makes them wander in a trackless waste” (Job 12).
Engaging this crisis means engaging with God. For all we know, what he means for us to do in this moment—perhaps the reason he sent this thing—is to turn our eyes to him and remember that he alone is the one who makes known “the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” and says, “my purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa 46).
Increasingly, people are blaming other people, angry with other people. Well, of course. Human beings are sinners and they are culpable for real sins and flaws—whether at a personal, local, national or international level. But it will be the worst of mistakes if, in frustration and anxiety, we end up elevating human causes above divine. The fact is, “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1). If you have any doubts about this, and underestimate the lengths to which God will go to turn his people to himself, you need to add Amos 4 to your devotions for a week. Study and pray over it. God will not hesitate to take the lives of our children if necessary to awaken us (v.10). Reconciliation and nearness to him are more important than mere existence. His lovingkindness is better than life itself (Ps 63:3).
But don’t hear what I’m not saying. I certainly have no idea what exactly God is doing in this—either with you or with me. But I do know this: we must “endure hardship as discipline” (Heb 12:7). The structure of that line is difficult in Greek and is rendered differently in different translations. But over the years, in part due to our darkest times of Lisa’s health, I have torn those words apart. What they mean is best captured by the NIV, which is what’s quoted above. The text means: “it’s best to regard hardship as discipline, regardless of what it may turn out to be in the end.”
It’s best to regard this virus as discipline, regardless of what it may be in the end. If you are prone to blame and judgment, remember that judgment will be used against you. And if you do not forgive you will not be forgiven (Mt 7:2; Mt 6:15). We should take to heart Jesus’ advice regarding the collapse of the tower of Siloam, when people wanted to know if the 18 had died because of their sins. Jesus didn’t give the reason. Instead he said, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:4). The principle there is, leave to God the judgment of others. Christians should be hard on themselves, easy on others. If there are civil actions open to you to change the course of events (voting, letters to elected officials, legal protest, the courts), then you may use those. But the real danger to you, eternally, will be what lurks in your own heart. Be wise in this, people. Don’t throw away a lifetime of walking with him to satisfy an emotional impulse to accuse people you never liked anyway.
Let your worldview be shaped by the words that follow; I encourage you to read to the end: “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him…The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations…from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength…Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield” (Ps 33).
Wait for the Lord; he is our help.
— Pastor Eric