How’s it going?
Some of us are starting to think, “What just happened?” (i.e. where did the last 6 months go and why didn’t I learn any new languages? And incidentally why have I suddenly gone grey?)
Some of us are thinking that the worst is yet to come.
Some of us are still wondering how to cope with Today.
I’m sure there’s a whole mix of feelings about “the current situation” even amongst the readers of this here blog.
If we’re thinking of it as a marathon, I think I set off a bit too fast. Not exactly sprinting (I did have (suspected) Covid-19, after all) but also at a pace I couldn’t sustain. Then, at about Mile 20 I was informed that the marathon wouldn’t stop at Mile 26. I still don’t know where the Finish line is. I’m walking now, by the way, and gradually getting my breath back.
I don’t know if you’re feeling disappointed in the way you’ve handled certain things. Or maybe even disappointed in how things are in your country or the world over. I think most of us are feeling pretty weak now.
The other day I was listening to my pastor talk about the fact that humans are weak. They’re made from the dust:
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
Is God surprised at how badly I handled such-and-such a situation?
Nope. He knows I am dust.
Is God frowning down at me in the way a personal trainer or an army General would if I tried to do 10 push-ups?
No, he has compassion on me.
Let’s remember that God is sovereign and he is in control even now. And he’s good.
But why would he bring us to a place of such weakness?
In Scripture we see time and again the Lord bringing people to a place of weakness and dependency on him.
Take Babel, for example. There we see humanity trying to be strong; trying to be independent. What does the sovereign Lord do? He confuses their language so that they’ll fail.
In the desert, when the people of Israel are hungry, does God give them the tools to make their own food and be independent? No, he gives them daily manna so they’ll have to keep trusting him.
When Jonah thinks he can run away from God and be his own man, what does God do? He sends a storm to bring him, eventually, to repentance and dependence: “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord.” (He was a bit slow, wasn’t he?)
Jesus’ disciples were accomplished sailors and fishermen. But what did Jesus do? He sent them into storms so that they would need to cry out to him for help (See Matthew 8 and Matthew 14.) Peter was pretty confident in himself, but Jesus taught him to have confidence in Jesus instead:
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
The Lord allowed a woman to suffer bleeding for 12 years so that she would reach out to Jesus for healing, cleansing and reconciliation.
The Lord brings his people time and again to places of weakness in order to teach us to depend on Him. This is his kindness to us.
And yet so often, when I’m feeling weak, I feel that the Lord is far from me. I feel he disapproves. ‘He’s as disappointed in me as I am.’ But that’s a lie. Unlike me, He knows I’m weak. Not only that, but Christ sympathises with me:
‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who is every respect has been tempted as we are – yet was without sin.’ Hebrews 4:15
Dane Ortlund puts it this way:
‘Our tendency is to feel intuitively that the more difficult life gets, the more alone we are. As we sink further into pain, we sink further into felt isolation. The Bible corrects us. Our pain never outstrips what [Christ] himself shares in. We are never alone. That sorrow that feels so isolating, so unique, was endured by him in the past and is now shouldered by him in the present.’ (Gentle & Lowly, p.48)
So what should we do? Hebrews 4:16 answers that for us. Jesus is moving towards you even as you’re having to distance yourself from others. You can approach him confidently and know that he’ll help you:
‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’