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.
Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Yahweh is faithful in all his words,
and loving in all his deeds.
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.
The Power Of Forgiveness
Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD — Psalm 130:1
There is a story from Spain about a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away from home, and his father set out to find him. The father searched for months, but to no avail. As a last-ditch effort, the father took out a full-page ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” The next Saturday, 800 men named Paco showed up, all looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers!
How many people in life are walking around looking for love and forgiveness from their Father in heaven?
If you’re like the rest of us, you have probably messed up once or twice in your life. We all make mistakes! As it says in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (NLT). However, there is also a danger in thinking that you are only a sinner. Every time we fall, there is the risk that we will be too discouraged to get back up again. The next step after sin is repentance; yet sometimes, we find it hard to move on.
In Psalm 130 King David exclaimed, “Out of the depths I call out to you . . .” The sages explain that the “depths” David was referring to was the depths of sin. Sometimes when we sin, we feel so low and so far from God. We feel like we are deep in the gutters of life. How can we possibly climb out? How can we face our God again? We feel distant, unlovable, and unworthy.
The sages caution us, “Do not consider yourself wicked in your self-estimation!” If we give in to those feelings of unworthiness, we will never be restored to our true selves. In Psalm 130 David also reminded us that God is forgiving. He implored us to “put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption” (v.7).
God is waiting for us, loving us, and anticipating our return so that He can forgive us. We just need to return to Him.
Imagine that you open the newspaper today and you see an ad with your name on it: “Dear _____. Meet me in church on Sunday at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” Believe it — God is sending us this message every day! We just need to turn to God in repentance, and He will do the rest.
The Dark Side Of Self Defeating Jealousy
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones. — Proverbs 14:30
It could be your neighbor’s new car or maybe it was your fifth-grade teacher praising your best friend, but not you. There are so many scenarios that can catch us off-guard and bring out one of the ugliest traits that we are all susceptible to — the experience of jealousy. Whoever came up with the expression “eat your heart out” in reference to producing jealousy in another person was speaking a truth. In Proverbs we learn “envy rots the bones.” Jealousy destroys us from the inside out.
But there is a flipside to self-defeating jealousy. The very same verse begins, “A heart at peace gives life to the body.” Literally translated from the original Greek, “a heart at peace” is called “a healing heart.” The sages explain that a healing heart is a soft heart, one that accepts and forgives and is kind and generous.
A healing heart is the exact opposite of a jealous heart. A jealous heart wants what others have. A healing heart is happy for others when they succeed. A jealous heart is never satisfied. A healing heart is always content. A jealous heart is focused on its own personal gain. A healing heart looks out for the well-being of others.
Yet, for all jealous people do to better their own lives, they only bring ruin upon themselves. In contrast, kind, content, and generous people will bring peace and healing to themselves and to others. People with such a positive and peaceful attitude allow the body to function properly while spreading peace and health to those with whom they interact.
Of course we’d all prefer to have a healing heart over a jealous one. But how can we avoid jealousy?
The following story can help us. Once there were two eagles who would fly together. One eagle was able to fly higher and faster than the other, making the less adept eagle very jealous. One day, the jealous eagle spotted a hunter and asked him to shoot the other eagle. The hunter said that he could, but needed a feather for his arrow. The jealous eagle was happy to oblige, plucking one of his own feathers. The hunter missed and needed another feather, and then another and another. The jealous eagle supplied so many feathers that soon he didn’t have enough feathers to fly. The huntsman turned around and shot the eagle who could no longer fly or escape.
This story shows us how to avoid jealousy — by knowing deeply that it harms us most of all. When we feel jealousy beginning to grow and fester inside us, we must allow our hearts to be healing hearts, bringing life and joy to ourselves and those around us.