OK, I confess: It is all my fault. All the turmoil in the world, all the political unrest in our country, and even the global pandemic – all my fault.
In fact, it does not matter what negative issue you and I are facing right now – I’ll take the blame for it!
You see, lately, in my private quiet time with the Lord each day, I have decided to work through the biblical book of James.
And anytime I ever have determined to diligently study through the book of James for myself, trials and tribulations of all sorts seem to arise out of nowhere to confront and confound me and all those around me –and that includes YOU!
You see, when I read Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase of James 1:2-4, which says, “Consider it a sheer gift [Other versions say’ ‘Count it all joy’], friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way”, I know and expect to find myself facing all sorts of trials and testing in the near future.
It is almost as if God is saying, “You want study about finding joy in trials? Okay – here are a few trials for you to be joyful about!” It is almost as if God must give me and my bride first-hand experience in such things.
Now other than living through the last several months of one, I don’t claim to have anything close to first-hand experience in dealing with pandemics or the destruction they may cause, but I can tell you that from my studies in the Scriptures, I know Someone who does!
When I look at the various trials and tribulations explored throughout the Bible, there are two or three principles that stand out in general, no matter who is involved in the story, and no matter what the situation may be that brought the trial on:
(1) GOD IS. My friends, Neitzsche was wrong! God is not dead! Tragedies cause us to realize that He is very much on the scene. Oftentimes we do not understand why or how He works, but one thing we should acknowledge is that there is no way humanly speaking that we can explain how a worldwide pandemic arises and wreaks such havoc.
We may not want to recognize the existence of God, but tragedies definitively point us to the reality of His presence. That also drives us to the second principle, which is that…
(2) GOD IS IN CONTROL. It is an interesting fact that nature is something we observe. Take, for example, storms or hurricanes. We do not control it. As technologically advanced as we are, we cannot in our own human ingenuity, creativity, or strength manage or direct the winds of the earth, the strength of nature, and the handiwork of the Creator.
All the weathermen of the universe cannot change the forces of nature. And it is interesting that no one seems to be claiming to have a clue as to how to redirect those hurricane forces, or better yet, to dissipate them to minimize or eliminate the damage done.
The fact is that God is in absolute control of nature and everything else as well. That leads us to consider the third, and quite frankly, the most important of all the principles:
(3) GOD IS LOVE. This is the most important of the principles we learn through storms we face in life. It is also the most debatable. God controls the forces of nature and could, if He so chose, change their course or eliminate them. But the fact is: He doesn’t.
That often leads us to blame Him for the tragedies we encounter, to question Him for those trials, and in fact to reject Him completely. But the reality is, His character is one of love. And in the true definition of the term, it simply means “seeking the highest good for the object loved.” In other words, even though we cannot explain it, God allows events to come into our lives that may on the surface seem to be tragedies, but in the big picture of things, they are in fact demonstrations of God’s care and love.
We may never fully understand the tragedies we encounter, but the truth is God has our best interests at heart. There is an old adage that says, “No pain, No gain!” And if we are truly honest with ourselves, we learn more, we grow more in times of trial and tragedy than we do in times of success, triumph, and accomplishment.
Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not discounting the trauma and the tragedy that COVID-19 and coronavirus has left behind. Our hearts and all our resources should be supportive and ready to help those in need in whatever way we can.
But most of all, we should pray that through all of this tragedy, the ultimate good that will come out of it all is that it will ultimate be for our good and that God will get the glory!
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
One other thing: Tomorrow, I start to study through Philippians!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.