There are times when God reminds us of how little control we have, and at the same time he wants us to be assured of his sovereign control over all things.
There appear to be a lot of dangers right now in our situation, dangers that are both real or at least possible, and some that are perhaps only imagined. Histrionics is a good word that refers to the overly dramatic, panicky fretting that appears to be tempting a lot of people in the media right now. Some people are saying that the West is finished, while others are saying we’re going to pop out of this slump in no time flat. It’s like having two children riding in the back seat of your car, one who is screaming “we’re all going to diiieee,” while the other sings happily to himself “everything’s gonna be alright.”
I don’t want to try to argue one way or the other. How can I know if it’s going to be disaster or a bed of roses? I simply want to say that it isn’t our job to predict the future, but it is our job to rest in the sovereign, nail-pierced hand of our savior. We don’t know the future. We don’t know how things will turn out in this present situation. We do know that our savior can be trusted. We do know his great and precious promises like…
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isa. 49:15-16).
In this time of uncertainty, sure, read the news. But dig into Scripture far more. In a previous letter to you, I wrote: “God wants us to be enthralled with the Lord and to be constantly happy at biblical thoughts about him! A way to do this: Choose a psalm or an epistle and isolate all the individual statements about the Lord in it; reflect on each one and respond in prayer and praise.” That’s how we should be spending our time!
In the spirit of giving you an example of putting this into practice, consider Psalm 46:1–2, where the psalmist speaks of God’s help when earth-shattering things are happening. The psalmist says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Let’s isolate a statement about God from this: he is an ever-present help in trouble. Reflect on this for one moment and you won’t be able to keep from feasting your soul on the massive comfort and stabilizing influence to be found in recognizing God’s nearness and tender shepherding us. He’s not on a vacation, he’s not abandoned us, he is not sluggish toward us. Quite the opposite, he is tenderly caring for believers. I once read an author who translated this statement as “he is an abundantly available help in time of trouble.” I love that: abundantly available! I love viewing God that way. Every time you turn to him he is there, a compassionate savior who sits on a throne of grace and provides grace and help in time of need. In Christ, God carefully tends his lambs, and that means me and you, if we believe. Praise God for his nearness and his compassionate care! I wish we could open our hymn-book right now and sing a song of praise together. Lord willing soon…
I pray you’ll spend a lot of time bringing peace and joy to your soul and that you’ll experience the peace that passes all understanding during this time.
PS: as an update on our current meeting situation: in the last couple of days the governor of Washington has asked for two more weeks of quarantine, and in that request he specifically referred to religious meetings. We will go on for two more weeks without services; please pray to the Lord that we will be able to meet once again very soon. In the meantime, I will be writing two pastoral emails every week and posting a video sermon on YouTube and on our website. Also, every day I’m making efforts to reach out through text and email to you, and I hope to contact all of you in time. I hope you are all connecting in some way through electronic means. “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith” (Jude 1:20).