We live in trying times. The world around us seems to be falling apart, yet if you look closely, you’ll see people coming together. Neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, complete strangers stepping up to help those in need; it’s a beautiful thing to witness, even from a distance.
I live in Wisconsin and today is a beautiful summer day. After a cold stretch last week, this week it’s back in the 80’s and the sun has come out to play. When I look out my window I see flowers blooming and dozens of butterflies flitting about from one bloom to the next. It’s peaceful and calm.
Yet I’m not untouched by the tragedies happening around the country and the world. I’ve been keeping my eyes to social media and the news, following the battles that friends and others around the world are facing.
While at work, I chatted with a customer who was visiting from Montana. As we stood in a children’s boutique watching her daughter play, she calmly told me her account of the fires raging out west and the air that is unbreathable. People are unable to leave their homes and so many others have had to be evacuated.
A friend living in Nepal shared about the monsoons and terrible flooding happening in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. Thousands have been killed and millions of people are displaced. If she hadn’t shared on Facebook, I would have never known.
Videos and photographs from friends and strangers alike have filled my screens as stories of devastation, survival, kindness, and miraculous rescues have been shared from Texas to Florida and so many places in between.
With tragedy striking in so many places in such a short period of time, it’s not surprising to hear people asking where God is and why He isn’t intervening. When you add in each of our own personal struggles and pain it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed.
Friends, let me be perfectly clear. God has not abandoned His people. God’s words of encouragement to the Israelites are still true today.
But now thus says the Lord,
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2, ESV
“But how can that be,” you may wonder. I know, many people have lost their lives, so how can I say that nothing can harm us? I can say it with complete confidence because we are more than just our physical body.
We’ve been going through a series on what it means to be united with Christ. We’ve learned that when we place our trust in, and choose to follow Jesus, our spirit is united with His. We become one. We recognize that our spirit, united with Christ Jesus, died with Him, was buried with Him, and rose from the dead with Him. We are now seated at the right hand of God, in Christ. That my friends, that’s who we really are.
The thing that makes us special and unique, the essence of us, is our spirit, not our physical body. That’s why I can say with confidence that nothing can harm us. One day our physical body will die, but our spirit is already living united with the eternal Christ. That won’t change.
When we understand this, we can experience God’s peace in the midst of any situation. We can extend God’s love to those around us who are hurting and suffering as much as, or more than, we are. What an incredible gift!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the destruction and total loss that so many have recently experienced. It’s hard for me to fully understand because it’s something that I haven’t personally experienced. I think about all of the inheritances that have been destroyed, never to be passed down to children or grandchildren.
There is a lot of heartbreak there, yet what I’ve been hearing over and over is that stuff can be replaced. And even the things that can’t be replaced are nothing compared to the safety of a loved one. You see, it’s people who are important.
When I read Ephesians 1:11 (NLT) this week, I knew I had to share it. It says, “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.”
What earthly inheritance could ever compare to the inheritance we get from God? To be chosen by God and united with Christ is the greatest gift we could ever receive. It’s the most important gift that can be given to friends and family, and it can’t be destroyed by fire, flood, storm, illness, or anything else.
So what is our response to the devastation the world is experiencing and that we may be experiencing? First of all, we remember that God isn’t surprised. He told us in His Word that we will experience these types of trials, yet He also told us that He is with us and will never leave us!
Second, we grieve and we rejoice. We grieve with those who are experiencing great loss and deep emotional pain and we rejoice with those who have seen miraculous provision.
Third, we do what we can to help. We offer a hand of assistance, a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear. We donate needed finances and supplies as we’re able. We search out the most reputable organizations so the help we send gets to the people who need it the most.
Finally, and most importantly, we pray. We pray for rain, we pray for restoration, we pray for healing, and we praise God for all of the ways that He has already intervened and assisted. We praise Him because no matter what hardships we face, He is still God, He is still on His throne, and He is still worthy to be praised.
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love,
a tender heart, and a humble mind.
- 1 Peter 3:8, ESV