But, until then …

As 2020 started America descended rapidly into chaos. A virus triggered responses in the world that changed lives, devastated economies, and killed people.  I wonder why?   Do you ever wonder why things happen as they do? Are there circumstances in your life for which you would love an explanation? Me, too! It is not wrong to wonder.  Yes, asking why can lead us to valuable reflection, to greater faith, to deeper devotion- sometimes.  However, rushing to answer that question with half-baked conclusions, spectacular conspiracy theories, or simplistic ideas – will surely lead us away from the true purposes of God.

I have heard some insist that COVID is God’s judgment on the world that has largely forgotten Him. Others are quick to lose the horsemen of the Apocalypse on the earth these days, convinced that the ‘why’ can be found in End Times prophecies. Others blame the our government officials for doing too much or not enough. Social media is full of ill informed ‘experts’ who offer up strange answers.

If we rush to satisfy our need to know and prematurely declare that we surely know ‘why,’ our conclusions may close our minds to the real message of God! Catastrophes, suffering, and social unrest should provoke deep thought, extended reflection and humility that silences our chatter until the Spirit makes His purposes so clear that they are unmistakable! God is not pleased when we guess at His plans and go out to declare what we think we know while invoking His authority for our musings!

Ancient Israel was full of ‘prophets’ who said, “God did that because He wants us to do this.”  God sent a message to a true prophet: “Son of man, speak against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Tell them to listen to the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Destruction is certain for the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!” (Ezekiel 13:2-3, NLT) IF we presume to speak on God’s behalf to explain ‘why’ life is going as it is we risk a serious sin IF we have not heard from Him on the matter.  The Commandment teaches us “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.” (Exodus 20:7, NLT)  It is a serious matter to say, “God told me to tell you!”

Times of trouble should always call Christians to prayer and reflection. Some humble fasting is in order, too. Instead of making pronouncements of judgment on the nation, we would do well to reflect on our treatment of the poor, to examine our love of things and comfort, our self-centeredness. Peter’s inspired word is compelling to me. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:16-19, NIV)  Read it again!

Instead of pointing the finger of blame at the ‘world,’ we need to invite the Spirit to show us the content of our heart.  There is wisdom in having enough humility to shut up long enough to let God speak. Join me in this prayer –  “Lord grant me great faith to trust YOU when YOUR ways are hard to discern so that I will keep doing good, not overwhelmed, not ready to quit, not complaining.”  

We need to understand anew what the Word declares of His acts.  He tells us  “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT) In those lines I find both comfort and caution! The comfort is that He has not forgotten us and that HE is able to use all things to accomplish His purposes in you and me. The caution is that we may have difficulty understanding why: in this moment, this day, even in this lifetime!

Here’s a word from the Word to keep in your mind today. May it speak deeply to us.
Proverbs 3:5-8 (The Message)

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.

Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!”

Ready to be quiet, to listen, to wait for Him to reveal His plans?
Until then, “Lord, help us to trust You radically.” Amen

Until Then

(Take a few moments to listen to David Phelps sing this song of hope and faith.)

My heart can sing
When I pause to remember
A heartache here
Is but a stepping stone
Along a trail
That’s winding always upward
This troubled world
Is not my final home

But until then
My heart will go on singing
Until then
With joy I’ll carry on
Until the day
My eyes behold the city
Until the day
God calls me home

The things of earth
Will dim and lose their value
If we recall
They’re borrowed for a while
And things of earth
That cause the heart to tremble
Remembered there
Will only bring a smile

This weary world
With all its toil and struggle
May take its toll
Of misery and strife
The soul of man\
Is like a waiting falcon
When it’s released
It’s destined for the skies

But until then
My heart will go on singing
Until then
With joy I’ll carry on
Until the day
My eyes behold the city
Until the day
God calls me home

Stuart Hamblen © 1958 Hamblen Music Company (Admin. by ClearBox Rights, LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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