Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. Because of the Bible, we can be certain:
God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.
The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.
God works circumstances for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we can’t fully comprehend what He’s doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. God is alerting us to the need for repentance—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. The Lord wants to get our attention, and catastrophes open our ears to hear from Him.
The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His plan. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
God’s Spirit indwells believers at salvation, which means His power is available from that moment (Eph. 1:13). God created a simple way for us to access that strength every single day.
First, we must accept the truth that in and of ourselves, we are powerless to live out God’s will. No matter how capable we may be, our own strength and wisdom are insufficient. Sometimes Christians become prideful about the good they have done or the number of years they’ve been saved. Imagine how much more we could serve the Lord if we would humbly get out of God’s way and let Him work through us.
Second, we surrender our entire life to the guidance and governing of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we choose to conduct our spiritual walk—as well as our vocation, finances, family, and relationships—as God desires. His Spirit is not going to release supernatural power into a life that is continuing in rebellion.
Third, we exercise faith, which means demonstrating belief and trust in the Lord. Faith is the “switch” that releases the Spirit’s power. It’s like saying, “I believe You’ve got a plan, God, so I’m going to trust You to give me what I need in order to do Your will.” Then He will move heaven and earth to provide for your need, whatever it may be.
Merely memorizing and reviewing the steps isn’t enough. Instead, commit to these principles as a way of life. Get used to thinking, I can’t but God can— I’ll submit to His will because His plans are for my good and His glory. That’s the kind of life that overflows with the Holy Spirit’s power.
God’s Calling is the Qualifier
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Think of a time when you were asked to handle a particular task but felt you didn’t have enough education, experience, or ability to do it. We all tend to feel like this on occasion and may even offer God excuses why we couldn’t possibly be the one to take on the project. But the Lord doesn’t always use strong, influential, or accomplished people to do His work.
In fact, God often chooses to have His work done through those whom the world regards as foolish, weak, unimpressive, or ordinary. He has two main purposes for doing this. First of all, by accomplishing great things through unexceptional people, He proves that the world’s wisdom is foolishness. And second, God’s people don’t have any reason to boast: They have no power to save themselves and no ability to serve Him apart from His strength and wisdom.
God isn’t interested in impressive human talent and natural ability. He’s looking for humble people who are totally dependent upon Him and willing to make themselves available for whatever He calls them to do. Moses didn’t feel the Lord could use him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he wasn’t eloquent, but he became one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history. David was young and had no experience as a warrior, but the Spirit of God empowered him to kill a giant with one small stone.
If you’re a believer, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are or how qualified you feel. If you’ll simply depend on Christ, make yourself available, and obey Him, He’ll use you for His glory.
Seeing With Eyes Wide Shut
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
— Isaiah 45:3 (NLT)
It is a natural human reflex to squint or shut one’s eyes when in pain. Similarly, we wince when we are hit with unbearable experiences and we tend to close out the world around us. The sages taught that this reflex has a powerful message for us.
Our eyes are the vehicle through which we bring objects outside of us into our brain. We call this process “seeing.” But sometimes, we can’t see. If something passes by us very quickly, we won’t be able to see it. The eyes don’t have enough time to process and send the image to the brain.
Another time we have difficulty seeing is when an object is very far away. When this happens, our vision is diffused over a lot of space and it doesn’t have the power to bring the image into the brain. To solve this problem, we squint. By closing our eyes to things on the periphery, we are able to concentrate all our visual capacity on the object we want to see and our vision extends farther.
The sages taught that this same principle applies when we are going through emotional or spiritual pain. When we are going through challenges or difficulties, we need to see the whole picture, the end of the story. We have to see that everything God does is for our best. We have to be able to see that all the pain we are experiencing is for a good purpose.
But how do we attain such a perspective when we are in the midst of deep pain?
We close our eyes.
Sometimes we only need to “squint.” We need to shut out the things that don’t really matter in life in order to see what really does. Often this partial blinding is enough for us to see that all is good. However, other times, we must completely close our eyes to the physical world so that we can focus on non-physical matters. In this space, we can see the beauty and light in our situation that we couldn’t see with our eyes open wide.
In the book of Isaiah we read: “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness — secret riches.” There are some treasures that we can only attain in the darkness; some riches we can only find in hidden places. When we go through challenging times – or even in good times – if we are able to close our eyes to the material world and gain an invaluable perspective on the truly important aspects of life, then we will be truly blessed. Having that clarity through life is one of the greatest treasures we can ever receive.
God’s Loving Arms
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever. — 1 Chronicles 16:34
There once was a father who carried his son on his shoulders everywhere they walked. He cared for all his son’s needs, giving him food and drink, keeping him in the shade when it was hot, and walking in the sun when it got cold. A stranger passed by the pair one day, and the son casually asked him, “Have you seen my father?”
This anecdote teaches us about how we take so many of our gifts from our Father in Heaven for granted. We don’t even recognize that it is He who is giving us everything we have and everything we need. God carries us through life, but if we don’t look for Him, we won’t see Him.
Some people think that it is hard to have a loving relationship with God because He is so far from us, all the way in the heavens. But this story shows us that the opposite is true. The reason why so many of us don’t have a relationship with our Father is because He is so close to us! He is so close, and His presence so familiar, that we rarely notice Him.
Every breath we take is a gift from God. But how many of us feel that way throughout our busy days? We take the clean air and our ability to breathe for granted because we are given that gift every moment of our lives. But try holding your breath for a few minutes, and you might come to have a new appreciation for your next breath and the one after that.
In 1 Chronicles, after the Ark of the Covenant was brought into a special tent that King David had created for it, a ceremony took place involving sacrifices and offerings. But then David instructed the priests to constantly serve with words of praise and thanks to God. This was critical to their daily service. We read: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Giving thanks was the anthem of David’s life.
In fact, the sages teach that at one point during David’s reign, there was a plague that killed 100 people a day. Recognizing that this physical malady had a spiritual cause, David prescribed a spiritual cure: To recite 100 blessings each day. The plague stopped, and David’s prescription is followed by observant Jews to this very day!
Everyone is asking what will it take to put our world in a better state. We see all the bad things happening around us. But maybe the cure is to notice the good things, to give thanks for them, and to bless God for giving us all the gifts we have in our lives.
Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.