It’s easy to look around and feel hopeless, even in this season. Whether domestic violence, or international terror, or poverty or lack of clean water and medical care, we can all admit that this present world is a mess.
Where is God in all this? I have echoed the words of the psalmist,
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1
But God is not hiding. He is not detached and disinterested.
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. Psalm 10:12-16
Yet the question remains . . . Why, Lord? Why wait? Why take note for later? Why note evil and not avenge now?
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. . . and count the patience of our Lord as salvation . . .2 Peter 3:8-10, 15
Maybe it is trite, and so common that the importance fails to impact, but it is nonetheless a true statement.
It is not about me.
This is God’s world. This is His plan. This is His working. And so often I forget that. I even forget that when I think I am concerned for others in this broken world.
Example: a believer in a nation extremely hostile toward Christianity is imprisoned. Though he/she is enduring persecution, the jailers and the other prisoners are hearing the gospel, and where else and how else would they hear unless someone was “sent” to them . . .in a prison?
Example: a believer has some severe health issues. Surgery is required. The doctor is a New Age spiritualist; the post-surgical physical therapist is a Buddhist. Frequent appointments, pre-and post-op, including therapy, give time to share the love of a God who gives hope and purpose to a person with such significant health issues. These particular people would never walk into an evangelical church or listen to Christian radio. They would not hear the gospel unless someone is “sent” to them. . . in a hospital.
Example: a woman leads a Bible study at a rescue mission. She is an abuse survivor, and, has wondered for years how the “all things work together for good . . .” applies to her. Over the course of the study, one of the women opens her heart to receive Christ. “I never thought God would want me or cared for me. But hearing your story, hearing how Christ has given you purpose and dignity despite your past, I want Him for me, too . . .” This woman would not hear of God’s power to heal her unless someone was “sent” to her. . .in a rescue mission.
So when I want to wallow in despair, or when I am frustrated because it seems like God has left this world to its own evil, I must remember that God is still God.
And His “patience” — his not avenging now — is to give one more person one more opportunity to accept His gift of grace.
What mercy! What grace. And I am so grateful . . .