The past few months have devastated our nation with natural disasters in abundance. Fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and the tragic shooting in Las Vegas leave us reeling with anger, grief, questions and perhaps hopelessness.
One nation under God.
A nation begun by those seeking God’s ways and freedom to live in them the way they chose. A nation whose pilgrims initially embraced help with gratitude from those who lived here before them as they all celebrated the unique offerings their differences yielded.
But now that nation is torn apart.
Hatred, racism, politics, disrespect and tragic disaster reign as each person tries to fix the issues in their realm or in their own heart. Many turn their anguish and heartache toward God with a shaking fist asking
“Where are you, God?”
I’ve certainly had my days of wondering where God is in all of this.
And I believe the answer to the question isn’t that God is absent, but that he’s present in each circumstance and life offering love, hope and something good to come out of all the bad. Maybe the good is a sense of unity like what happened in Florida and across the nation as a result of Irma. Perhaps it’s finding our neighbors and how we can help each other. It could even be someone turning to God for comfort.
God is with us.
It’s interesting to me that when good happens we are quick to point to ourselves—how we invented or accomplished or created something. But when bad happens we are quick to point at God with an accusing finger.
It’s our glory and God’s fault, right?
What if we flipped that around? What if all the mess of the world is actually us doing our own thing, going our own way, believing that we have answers and know what’s best but in reality we’re arrogantly messing things up?
What if God truly has the answers, has a way for our lives to work well, offers us good for the taking?
This side of heaven, nothing is going to fix this world. Oh, we can improve on things, feed the poor and take care of orphans and widows (just as Jesus told us to do). But since man chose to do his own thing from the beginning of creation, God turned the world over the to the father of lies, the one who kills, steals and destroys, the current ruler of earth.
Does that mean God isn’t in control?
Nope. He’s much greater than his and our enemy. His love far surpasses the evil of the world (Wonder Woman recognized it.) But he also doesn’t force anyone to follow him, love him or obey his ways. He gives us a choice. And much of the crisis in the world has been our choice.
Maybe not yours or mine in a given situation, but ours as a nation.
I love that even if we choose not to follow God, he pursues us, woos us and stays close to us waiting for us to turn around and embrace him. Like a lover—the lover of our soul desires relationship with us and longs for us. He will even allow something difficult to put up a roadblock so we will turn around and see him there with open arms.
In the end, God is our only hope.
He creates life in the face of death, streams of water in wastelands, rescue from bondage and offers an eternity in his presence. Each day, when I keep my eyes and heart focused on the One who loves me most and best, I am settled in peace and hope no matter what rages around me.
The same can be true for you.
Maybe it already is. But it’s not always without difficulty. Keeping our thoughts focused on someone we can’t see isn’t an easy task. That’s where faith comes in. Creation around us, God’s word and the testimony of others who know and follow Jesus help keep us on track. Listening to soothing music helps keep me focused.
Hope is never really lost.
We may feel hopeless at a point of crisis or loss or when we look at the devastation and wonder what we can possibly do to make a difference. But for each simple act, like a prayer or a few dollars or a bottle of water, we offer hope and our hope is restored.
After all, God, who is love, is also our hope.
If you are feeling hopeless, I would love to pray for you. Let me know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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