It seems every time you pick up a newspaper or turn on the evening news, all you get is bad news. There's the war in Iraq. The one in Afganistan. In Ethiopia and Somalia. Iran and North Korea are racing to build "something" with nuclear power. China is amassing what could be the world's largest army. People are dying of aids and famine and virulent diseases. Earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes pound the earth indiscriminately. Homosexuality, murders, and civil disobedience are growing by leaps and bounds. So are world leaders who try to muscle their way to power.
It's depressing, isn't it? Gruesome, even. Definitely, I would call it "troubled times."
For many, the bad news isn't just out there, as recorded by the journalists and camaramen. It's right in their own homes. Within their own family circles. Their family unit is breaking down and breaking up. Their children are enslaved by drugs, sex, and alcohol. They themselves are frequenting the casinos, bars, and night clubs with friends and acquaintances or working into the wee hours of night, every night, in the hopes of climbing the corporate ladder and being rewarded with perks, instead of being at home, with their families, modeling godly and loving examples of steadfast parenthood.
The world is spiraling out of control. Certainly, I see it in my own family as members go the way of the divorce court, their children, seared and scarred and seemingly bobbing up and down in the rough waters of their chaotic lives.
Where is God?
He's where He's always been. On His throne. In control.
Oh, it may not appear that way to us, but then the mysteries of God's sovereign plan are, to us lowly, human beings with finite minds, quite simply, beyond our comprehension. We don't understand why our marriages are destroyed, why our children are gunned down by a fly-by shooting, why our bodies are eaten alive by cancer.
But we have to trust God that He knows what He is doing, even when we don't "get it."
When we recite the Lord's Prayer, we say, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." What exactly is His will?
Well, God has two types of will: one, there's His directive will, whereby He produces certain events by His own power, and two, His permissive will, whereby He allows certain events to happen. Both are, without question, His will. And He is, without question, sovereign over both types of events.
It's tough, though, for us to accept this or understand it, especially when we're in the midst of heartache and suffering. But we have to remember we live in a fallen world. And heartache and suffering are, unfortunately, part of this fallen world. For the believer and unbeliever alike.
But, in spite of what our human eyes see, let's never forget God still rules. And one day, in accordance with His perfect plan, will, and timing, He will bring order out of chaos, unity out of disparity, health out of sickness, holiness out of sinfulness, and understanding out of confusion.
And in the meantime, let's also remember God helps His people, us, to survive the unpleasant circumstances of our lives, uses those circumstances, in fact, to refine our characters, to strengthen our spiritual muscles, to mould us so we reflect the Lord Jesus Christ. We just need to keep our focus on the Lord, not on our circumstances.
Although we suffer on this side of heaven, our faith confirms to our hearts God has not abandoned us, He is working in our lives, oftentimes quietly behind the scenes. He holds all things in His hands. Ourselves, our unpleasant situations, included.
Isn't it comforting to know we do not stand alone, we do not have to face our troubles alone?
"Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Forever. Amen."
Let the Lord of the universe take your hand and lead you not over your problem, or around it, or beneathe it, but through it, to the other side, to victory. Let Him conquer your doubts, your fears, your hurts. Trust Him. He is, after all, sovereign and in control.