Where Is God?
2020 will definitely be a year we remember or perhaps it’s better described as one we’d like to forget. I heard a radio commercial that suggested “we put up a tree, open some presents, and call it a year.” Truly it has been a unique year, and it’s not over.
Many of us have become weary of hearing the word, “unprecedented.” If you think about it, everything and nothing is unprecedented. Everything is, in that there has never been a September 13, 2020 before. Nothing is, as the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “There is nothing new under the sun.” But there is far more drama in the extreme statement of “its never been like this before.” The truth is there have been pandemics before, there have been forest fires before, there have been demonstrations and riots before, there have been contentious elections before, there have horrific hurricanes before, there has been flooding in the midwest before, we could go on. Have they all come together at the same time? I don’t know.
It seems to me that hyperbole and the extreme statements have become the norm. You see it in political speeches, you see it in the media, you even see it in everyday conversation. I’ve been observing recently in conversations when someone speaks of a comment that might be considered critical how often the person relaying that conversation goes to the extreme: They were really angry about it. The opposite is true as well, you will hear, “they were really happy about...” Sadly, the negative is relayed far more than the positive. Hyperbole has become the norm.
As Christians, how are we to respond? In speaking with many members in our congregation, we’re feeling overwhelmed. Not only are all these things happening around us, but family members are experiencing trauma as well - people we know are displaced from their homes by the recent fires, people we know have lost their jobs due to the shut downs, people are still waiting for their unemployment benefits, people are still getting sick, people are still dying, people are still cut off from loved ones for fear of spreading the unseen enemy of COVID-19. In our isolated island of “social distancing” it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to wonder, “Where is God?”
Where is God in all of this?
Where is God in all of this?
As all of this is happening, I think of Job. If you’ve never read the book of Job - I commend it to you. You’ve no doubt heard of all the tragedy that he endured: the loss of his children, the loss of his wealth, the loss of his property and the loss of his health. And yet, he refused to “curse God and die” as some advised him. Instead, he continued to cry out to God; he lamented his losses and considered them unjust, but he never doubted God’s sovereignty. And, he professed his hope was in God. He took his case to God and God reminded Job - “You ways are not like my ways.”
In the Bible we read great stories of overcoming that should bring us hope in these times. We can read of the mantle of leadership being passed from Moses to Joshua, who was understandably afraid. God assures him:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Our creator God is with us wherever we go. The sovereign God.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
All authority in the heavens and on earth has been given to Jesus.
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He promises to be with us always.
But we grow weary. We’re tired. It’s hard. And, it is Jesus who promises if we come to Him we will receive rest for our souls.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
The most powerful tenet of our faith is truly the sovereignty of God. God is in control, despite what everything around us might be telling us. God is not fatigued, or worn out or giving up. God is in control.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
Yep, that describes many of us today, but look at the promise:
Those that wait for the Lord. God always has an eternal time line in mind, not our blip of existence within the creation’s time. That makes patiences hard. We must have the eternal time frame in mind.
Other translations read, “Those who wait upon the Lord,” and I think of that as like a waiter, serving the Lord. If I’m focused on serving God - loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength - there isn’t much band width to get pulled into the things that distract me from it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen - we all get pulled into the worries of life. Our goal though is to focus upon the one who is eternal - to keep that eternal perspective.
When life gets hard turn to God’s Word. A passage I find comfort in comes from 2 Corinthians 4, beginning at verse 7:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
Yes, we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down; but we are not crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, nor destroyed. God is with us.
Paul goes on his letter
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
There it is again. That idea of eternity. Whatever we face in this world is momentary compared to the fullness of eternity.
In thinking about today’s message, I kept hearing so much about people being afraid - afraid of the virus, afraid of the economy, afraid of politics, afraid of being racially insensitive, afraid of offending another person, afraid, afraid, afraid...
You know of all the commandments given in the bible one of them is spoken more than any other: Do not be afraid! It’s said in a variety of ways: Fear not, do not be afraid, do not be anxious, do not worry… It is clear God does not want us to be afraid.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Paul wrote to the church at Philippi
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We do not need to be a people of worry, we do need to be a people of prayer, a thankful people who turn to God, and God will give us that sense of peace amidst what seems like chaos.
In the Proverbs we read:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
As I close, I want to play for you a song by Dion (yes of Dion and the Belmonts fame). The music is very 80’s, but is light and fun. Listen to the words, based off these from Proverbs 3:5-6, and I hope you will be encouraged.
Remember, God is here, and God is in control. Amen.