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).
It took two years to paint A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the famous seaside scene. Each color that the eye sees is composed of countless contrasting dots. It is only as the viewer steps back from the painting that the picture emerges from the seemingly random dots.
When we are on the brink of despair, all we see is the color of our current situation. Our souls long for relief. When Job lost everything, he came to a point where he longed for death and wondered why God had forgotten him. Similarly the psalms of David are full of laments, heartfelt prayers to God expressing profound grief and sorrow. When we are in a dark place, it is comforting to know we are not alone.
Biblical stories can encourage us when we feel stuck and hopeless. This is not the end of our story but only a single dot or season. God is at work. He sees and affectionately holds the entire painting of our lives in His hands and has promised to create something beautiful. Don’t give up.
Is it not without its comfort that the two men that conversed with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration both broke under the strain of their ministry and prayed that they might die?
J. Oswald Sanders
The End is More Important Than The Beginning
A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
— Ecclesiastes 7:1
I recently attended a funeral for a woman who had lived a very long life. Yet, as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the pain of losing a close relative comes no matter how long that person might have lived. The group that assembled for the funeral was solemn and tearful. Yet, when one of the speakers began to eulogize the deceased, he began with the following verse from Ecclesiastes: “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.”
I have no doubt that the day that the departed had been born was a joyful one. And as I looked around at the faces of the mourners, it was clear that the present day was a sad one. So what did King Solomon mean when he said that the day of death is better than the day of birth?
The sages relate a parable to illustrate the idea.
A brand new ship was being set off to sea for the very first time. A group of people gathered to send the ship off with great joy. At the same time, an older ship was returning from its final journey. That ship was old and worn, ready to be retired upon its return. While everyone else was cheering on the new ship, only one man happily greeted the old ship.
The others asked the man why he was more excited about the old ship that would soon be a heap of junk than the new one on its maiden voyage. The man explained that when a ship begins its journey at sea, its future is unknown. It might be overtaken by pirates or it could sink in the middle of the sea. Whether or not the vessel would complete its mission was beyond anyone’s guess. However, when an old ship arrives from sea having successfully completed its mission, then all doubts are removed. The ship was successful and that is reason to be joyful.
So, too, when a person is born, we do not know how the person will turn out. But if they have lived a good life, remaining faithful to the Lord, then when their life is complete we can rejoice and be comforted in their successful mission even in the midst of our sorrow and grief.
Let us remember that as long as we live we are like a ship at sea. It’s up to us to keep the ship on course and to fulfill our respective missions. We determine the success of our life. If we remain focused and resolute, then our final day can be even better than our first.
The Great Shaking Going On
God has ways of shaking the world when He is up to something big. For example, He literally caused the ground to quake when Jesus died on the cross and also after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit emboldened Christ’s followers to spread the gospel (Matt. 27:51; Acts 4:31). There was nothing coincidental about the seismic activity that accompanied those two events. They were none-too-subtle messages from God: Pay attention because important things are happening!
Today, the ground may not physically move, but the Lord is certainly doing some shaking. Political alliances, financial systems, and ethical standards are all being allowed to wobble. We are seeing the flimsiness and decay of structures upon which we’ve based our national pride and hope. Even personal lives are not immune to shock waves. Families are in crisis, and many marriages are buckling. Sadly, people have too often built lives on the weak cornerstones of their human wisdom, goodness, and ingenuity. But there is only one secure foundation: Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11).
God always has a purpose for allowing upheaval in His ordered creation. Among other things, He is shaking the church out of apathy and self-focus, reminding us not to trust in the temporary structures of this world. Rather, we are to rest upon the firm foundation of God’s steadfast love and salvation.
As the Lord’s ambassadors on earth—and the only ones standing on firm ground—we have a responsibility to offer real hope to those whose foundation is unstable. No job, government, or even religion can give a person long-term security. A relationship with Christ is the only lasting refuge.
is the death of his saints.
Getting Stuck In Memory Lane
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
— Ecclesiastes 7:10
Who doesn’t like to take a nice stroll down memory lane every now and then? However, while it’s nice to reminisce about the “good old days,” we have to be careful not to get caught up in the past. We can enjoy the fond memories, but it’s not good if we unpack and live there. Today is the day the Lord has made; we must live in the present.
In Ecclesiastes we read, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Some folks get stuck in the past and ask why things were so much better then. True, times were once simpler. Kids were more wholesome. The cost of living was less expensive. Music sounded like, well, music. We can go on and on. But according to King Solomon, this is not a wise way of thinking. Asking why things are worse now than they once were isn’t going to lead to anywhere good.
However, we can argue that perhaps it is a good question to ask. After all, if we can understand what allowed a better standard of living to once exist, we could potentially recreate those circumstances and regain that lost but better way of living.
Yet, King Solomon would point out the flaw and foolishness of our thinking. Our first mistake is thinking that we are able to control the way the world works. The second is in thinking we know best how the world should be conducted. In reality, God controls the world, and while we must do our part to make it better, ultimately God knows what He is doing and all is as it should be right now at this very moment.
The idea of accepting things as they are and not asking why they are that way applies both on a global level and on a personal sphere. We need to embrace what God has given us today.
Instead of asking why things are as they are, the questions we should be asking are: “how can I serve God in these circumstances?” or “what can I learn from this situation?” or “how can I make myself better or improve the world?” These are the wise questions that can lead us to practical solutions and actions.
Instead of taking a long walk down the dead end of memory lane, we are far better off walking toward the future on an unending horizon of possibilities.
Next time we find ourselves reminiscing about those “good old days,” take a moment and appreciate both the blessings and opportunities available today. God gave us the gift of this day – how we spend it is our choice.
Shalom and Peace!
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
The morning headlines hit us with alarm as we realize we’re drawing closer to the season of our Lord’s return. One of our great comforts is what the Bible says about the Lord shielding His people in times like these.
- Psalm 17 says we are hidden under the shadow of His wings.
- Psalm 27 says we are hidden in the shelter of His tabernacle.
- Isaiah 49 says we are hidden in the shadow of His hand.
- Psalm 32 says that God is our hiding place.
- And Colossians 3 says our lives are hidden with Christ in God.
When you read a frightening headline, remind yourself that you are hidden in the hollow of His hand, and He will keep you from the coming Day of Judgment. He will preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. He will preserve your soul. That frees us from fear, allowing us to preach the Word with boldness and to smile with inner joy as the time draws closer.
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand.
Fanny Crosby, in the hymn “He Hideth My Soul”