Facing illness, pain, trials and tribulation visits all sooner or later. Sir Isaac Newton, considered the father of modern science, and a bulwark for Christ, said “Trials are medicine which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes because we are in need of them. Let us trust His skill and thank Him for his prescription.” Sir Thomas More echoed similar sentiments, “Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” 17th century English poet John Donne’s sonnet, “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so.” With Christ’s promises, for eons millions have faced martyrdom by faith like Stephen, Polycarp of Smyrna, and in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
It appears to be a universal sentiment that most are glad they didn’t know in advance of the unfolding events that threatened their very existence. Many have considered it one of God’s greatest mercies, that which He has hidden from us. If it was not, life could surely be unbearable with that shroud of knowledge ever present. Disaster shows up, usually unannounced, whether a tornado, flash flood or gas leak explosion that levels a home. It doesn’t consider one’s social standing or economic status. The mark of death, whether by a capricious act, natural disaster, or at the hands of a maniacal mad man; the end is not the thing-it’s the preparation for eternity that matters, after all.
COVID-19 still strikes fear in the heart of millions worldwide, yet in the midst of that fear It has been reported by Christianity Today, that tens of thousands have clicked online to pray for salvation since the pandemic outbreak. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reports their prayer lines have been flooded since last March of 2020. One visitor to their COVID-19 page told a chat volunteer, “I’m really not a religious person, but I don’t know who else to turn to but God.” This isn’t uncommon in times of uncertainty. The Pew Research Center reported that informal on-line witnessing for Christ was relatively common during times of upheaval. No one is sure how long the pandemic will last. Crafted by men for evil, but used of God for good to call attention to our human frailty. Matthew 28:20 assures us that He has promised to be with us through it all.
America isn’t exempt from upheaval, judgment, war and pestilence. That we’ve drifted from God’s standard is irrefutable. The road back isn’t through prosperity either. Any nation that pays lip service to a Holy God, yet behaves otherwise, is ripe for a slide to an abyss. Open hostility to Biblical absolutes have grave and predictable consequences, undercutting any claim of moral authority. Are we in America too urbane, too big for our own britches to weep for our nation? Or admit we need God’s touch? Will the predictable decline from the apex of this world awaken America’s lethargy? Prosperity won’t alter this postmortem.
We’re faced with hard decisions. C.S. Lewis said, “Free will, though it makes evil possible, any love or goodness of joy worth having.” Evil doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists much the way a wound exists on one’s body, or rust on a vehicle. Neither can exists on its own. There must be an agent. That’s our ball and chain to this day. G.K. Chesterton underscored this truth, “The doctrine of original sin is the only doctrine verified by thousands of years of human existence.”
After all is said and done, the fig leaf of man’s pretension to rectitude and nobility are stripped away; as evil testifies otherwise. Camus was wrong; evil’s root isn’t ignorance-it’s sin. Given the precarious nature of this fragile existence, most of which eclipse our own reach, it’s wise to plan ahead for eternity. We must look to Him who answers life’s gritty questions-now or later. For some, He performs miracles; others pass through mortal hands. It’s the ebb and flow of life that often dulls one’s senses to His prompting.
Awaken mortals. There’s a time to sleep, and a time to be watchful. Jesus admonished his soporific disciples, after previously entreating them to be on guard. Were his disciples dullards? Would we have faired differently? Whatever COVID has done, it has revealed chinks in our armor. We are most vulnerable. Does He have your attention? Life is like a Grizzly Bear encounter, according to a 19th century naturalist. One can do everything right, and end up in the wrong situation. Perfectionist die too. It’s not unsurprising for a staunch follower of Christ to question outcomes that appear to be vexing one’s soul. Nevertheless, many details remain a mystery to our finite mind. Where does one turn? “Ay, there’s the rub,” saith Hamlet.
Ultimately, those who trust the God Who orchestrates such events as a tapestry of one’s story, understand. Only the Alpha and Omega can pull back the veil of mystery, gazing down the corridor of eternity, knowing our frame and needs. Today, everyone offers their opinion. However, in God’s economy, one must understand He’s always Just and Righteous. He will not be silenced. The question should be, “Will we be silent long enough to listen to Him?” Anyone who survived military boot camp knows how drill sergeants get recruit’s attention. Parents use a style unique to their offspring. It may be a stern warning. When that fails, some escalate up to, and including, corporal punishment. He’s no mortal.
Those reliant on the Scripture comprehend the God Who is there, has spoken in space and time. He isn’t silent. His reputation for getting our attention is impeccable. How? His Goodness. Interrupts our routine. Whispering from the Holy Spirit. Extreme circumstances. Defeat. Material loss. Tragedy. Racial divide. Great Joy. It will be tailored made for us. Recorded in Acts 5, husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, expired three hours apart suddenly, after lying to the Holy Spirit about money. Is God’s presence on your “to do list today?” Does He have your attention yet? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org