Good morning, friends. One of the things which makes life a little harder these days is the newspaper. All one has to do to find something to worry about is to read a newspaper and listen to some news commentator. They give us a fairly steady diet of wars and rumors of war, storms, accidents, murders, scandals, and the like. Try mixing all that into your breakfast, and you’ve got a good reason for ulcers!
Now, I have no intention of suggesting that you cancel your daily paper. I certainly don’t intend to do so. I do suggest, though, that we look at these constantly recurring human tragedies from a healthy perspective.
First of all, we have to recognize that the history of the world is one of perpetual human crises. All recorded history gives us essentially the same story: civilization tottering, man in despair, ugliness of behavior, human depredations and depravity, it’s all an old story. As Christians we not only must recognize that this has been so, we must insist that it will be so. The history of the world will be a perpetually recurring crisis because man is in rebellion against God. You cannot take rotten lumber, eaten by termites and dry rot, and build a good house. Neither can you take man the sinner and build a paradise on earth. Man keeps demanding two things, peace and security, and dreams of a trouble-free world with cradle-to-grave security and only creates a hell on earth instead. Forty centuries and more before Christ, men dreamed of a human paradise, a world parliament of nations, and the like. Assyria tried to force a one-world concept on the nations, and only destroyed itself in the process. There is no peace or security apart from God, and every effort to attain them is doomed to frustration. As long as there is a God of justice, there will be the kind of world we see around us. If the world tomorrow gained the kind of peace we hanker for, it would be the greatest act of divine injustice that could be imagined. Man has no peace in his own heart: how can he hope to live in peace with anyone? Man apart from God is a shaking reed, a ferment of insecurity. How can any outward condition give him security? Man himself destroys his peace, and wrecks his own efforts at security. When mankind is not made up of saints and angels, it is no wonder that this world will not be a heaven. Thus history is in a constant recurring state of crises and will continue to be so. This is a fact which we must accept, a grim fact, but a fact of justice.
Second, we must recognize that this very condition of crisis is a part of God’s justice and therefore under His control. We all have moments of discouragement when we feel that things are all wrong and hopelessly out of control. We need, then, to turn to the book of Genesis and read the history of Joseph in chapters thirty-seven to fifty. Here we see a growing tragedy: a family divided and corrupt, brothers betraying their father and selling their brother into slavery; the brother suffering injustice as a slave and ending up in prison, forgotten by man and left to rot with none to remember him. Life seems often to deal with us in this manner. We feel like crying out with Jacob, “All these things are against me.” But God never forgets: step by step all the evil of man is converted into good by His total providence: Joseph rules over Egypt and sees the blessing in all his suffering. This is the history of God’s people: the outcome is certain, although often it is apparent only in eternity. The world is not out of God’s control: it is held tightly in His Almighty hands. To us it seems chaos only because we cannot see the pattern that is being woven. But in quiet confidence shall be our strength, and in trusting Him our surest reward.
The crises of which the newspapers write, the horror and tragedy, are in themselves a horror. But nothing in this world exists in itself: all exist against the background and within the orbit of God’s providence, and no act is final in itself. When God’s reckoning is made, the meaning will be made plain to all.
Third, we must recognize that there is more to our world than the crises we read of. Remember, the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord are the determining factors of all human history, and they are not daily recorded as the basic factor in all news. Remember, too, that your life and mine have been rich in God’s providence and blessing: our years have been filled with His goodness. Yet the rare occasions when our lives enter the news is usually when we have an accident or are in trouble. A million people can fly safely, but let ten die, and that alone is news. Every rumor of war is news, but a hundred thousand converts to Christ in Asia is not news. Our very concept of news tells us something about man, about ourselves, that man is looking for trouble, and that we delight in it. We are more ready to read about war and scandal than we are to read the Bible: we enjoy our troubles far more. We are more ready to talk about somebody’s sins than to praise his goodness, more ready to gossip than to pray. We all have this weakness.
If we walk more closely with God in Christ, we will have more of His peace and confidence.
He says to us:
They shall not be ashamed that wait for me. (Isa. 49:23).
Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? (John 11:40)
I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. (1 Sam. 1:27)
My heart rejoiceth in the Lord. (1 Sam. 2:1)
Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. (Ps. 66:16, 20)
When the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. (Ps. 89:9)
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still … so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness. (Ps. 107:29–31)
Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Ps. 34:8)