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).
Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Yahweh is faithful in all his words,
and loving in all his deeds.
From Dust To Glory
For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. — Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NLT)
Most of us would agree with the statement that we won’t live forever. But that isn’t entirely true. The issue is not if we live forever or not, but who “we” refers to.
If we think of ourselves as our body, then it’s true; we do not live forever, and knowing that should inspire us to make the most of the time we have. However, if we know the truth about who we are – that we are essentially a soul and not the body we have been given for a number of years – then it is true that we live forever, only not in physical form or on this planet, but in our spiritual form in our real home in Heaven.
As it says in the book of Ecclesiastes: “For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” This perspective should also affect the way we live as well.
If you were going on a short trip for a week or two, you would never go on a vacation that would spoil your life after the trip. You wouldn’t squander all your money on this vacation and have nothing when you returned to your house. You wouldn’t quit your job or sever important relationships. At the same time, you also wouldn’t want to waste a minute of your vacation, and you would hope that the relaxation you experience while away would follow you into your daily routine.
The sages teach that we are each a soul, given the “clothing” of a physical body so that we can be here for a limited amount of time. Knowing this is a temporary state of being, like being on a trip, we wouldn’t want to do anything that would take away our reward in the afterlife. We wouldn’t want to forget that we have a job to do – to make ourselves and the world a better place. We wouldn’t want to waste a minute of our lives and would use every moment as a chance to develop our souls.
Knowing that we do live forever makes us pause and consider what we are doing today to ensure that our “forever” is the best that it possibly can be. How can we be more generous? How can we become more loving? In what ways can we overcome our shortcomings and develop our God-given talents?
One day, our bodies will be part of the earth. But our souls never die. We simply return to where we came from and live the rest and best part of our lives. On that day, all we will take with us are our good deeds.
How might that influence the decisions we make today?
This is a story of a somewhat dysfunctional family — something most of us can relate to. So first, let’s look at the Prodigal son. He asks his father for his inheritance, immediately, before the normal time for receiving it — essentially implying that he would prefer that his father were dead, rather than remaining with him and his older brother. The father would have been quietly devastated. Think about it ?- if your son approached you with a request which was normally fulfilled by your passing away — how would you feel? Yet in spite of the pain caused by his callous son — the Father truly loves him. Upon his return, the Father embraces him once again and even treats him like a King!
So it is for much of the unbelieving world with no acknowledgment of or gratitude for their Creator — they’re happy to enjoy the abundance of God and His creation, while completely ignoring His existence and counting Him as dead.
Yet God so loves his prodigals — and desires every one to return Him!
We are all called to reach this world for the Lord. And prodigals are everywhere (including many of us)…Let’s give them a taste of their Father’s love — so that when they begin to come to their senses, they will know and feel that they can safely return to His house and be received with open arms!
Faith In Action and Attitude
When the difficult times come into your life, what is your response? While it may seem tempting to look for a shortcut out of the discomfort, that’s not the kind of attitude God desires from us. Instead, He wants His children to remain submitted to Him, though that may not end the affliction. But it is the Lord’s will that we hold our heads high and press on through the pain.
This comes as a shock to many new believers. After placing their faith in Jesus, they are often surprised when some unexpected hardship appears. However, it’s a misconception to expect an easy life once we trust God’s Son as Lord. In fact, the Bible assures us of quite the opposite. Jesus Himself declared that if we are found in Him, the world will give us great trouble and heartache (John 16:33).
In James 1:2, we are instructed to consider our struggles as a source of “pure joy” (NIV). This makes sense only when we see our difficulties through God’s eyes, as opportunities for growth. An untested faith is weak and ineffective. Just like our muscles, our faith must be exercised against some resistance. When we face trials with wisdom and endure them with godly perseverance, we will find blessings we never thought possible.
At the end of the struggle, we will see God standing with our reward: the crown of life (v. 12). To use an example from the world of sports, the “crown of life” is essentially God’s gold medal for a job well done. Do you want the Lord’s recognition of your spiritual victory? Then press on through the hardship and discover what lies just beyond the trial.
2 Peter 3:14
“I love thinking and reading about heaven,” wrote Joni Eareckson Tada, the gifted Christian writer who was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident in 1967. To everyone’s amazement, Joni became an accomplished painter, creating beautiful pictures with a paintbrush between her teeth. She said, “I’ve never succeeded in painting a picture of heaven. People have asked me why, and I haven’t come up with a good answer, except to say that heaven defies the blank canvas of the artist.” She went on to say that the beauty of earth’s most sublime spots is “only a dim reflection, a preliminary rendering of the glory that will one day be revealed.”
Let’s contemplate the mysteries of heaven and the city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).
Heaven may be as near as next year, or next week; so it makes good sense to spend some time here on earth thinking candid thoughts about that marvelous future reserved for us.
Joni Eareckson Tada