No where in the scripture has God ever assured anyone, baptized or not, of a carefree, no conflict existence. Televangelists might have sold that sack of crack to preening narcissistic apostates, but Christ never marketed that kind of deceptive dope. Ever since Adam and Eve derailed in the garden we have had to pay retail to live on this planet, and we will continue to do so until the credits run on this fallen-earth flick.
In Jesus’ first tape series, aka, The Sermon on the Mount, He told his listeners to expect storms, disasters, and yes, at times, even to have their lives battered internally or externally or both. It sucks to hear such news, but that’s the naked truth for individuals, churches and nations alike. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t like us; it’s just the way it’s been ever since our primal parents were sent east of Eden.
No, God didn’t promise anyone or any country unceasing bliss, but He was kind enough to forewarn His followers that at times things would get bad, really bad. Then He instructed them to be smart, build well, act right and to believe always; and He promised if they did, they’d ride the storm out. He told us and showed us how to construct our lives in such a way that when we start going through hell, we’d be certain to keep going.
Given the dicey environment in which we’re currently embroiled, i.e. Katrina and Rita, what sort of men and women should we be as believers when our lives and nation get tossed by the storms (both literally and figuratively)?
Here’s what I’ve gleaned from the scripture regarding how we should respond:
1. Don’t curse God when things go south. Keep up your worship, confession and obedience when the stuff is hitting the fan. We’ve got to learn to be faithful storm travelers who’ll be just as on fire for Him during and after our storms as we are when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and we just got a raise.
Perusing the book of Job will add grist to our meal to help us in times of adversity. Through all of the inconceivable junk Job went through, such as losing his family, home, health and livelihood, he did not become a whining atheist. And what did God do for this man who did not cave when catastrophe struck? He made certain that the last part of his life blew away the first part.
2. Realize how short and fragile life really is. This is a jagged little pill for invincible evangelicals to swallow. We seem to live and act like we’ll never die and like we can VISA-card our way out of most of our situations. However, death, adversity and vulnerability have a way of bringing us back to reality. Hopefully, this current grating trial will cause us to be living on this earth with leaving this planet ever in mind.
When one lives with one eye on dying and has the realization that after the big dirt nap there will be a face-to-face with a holy God, it has a way of making certain that we live a life worthy of Christ’s death. It doesn’t mean we cease to be full of life, hope, vision and dreams, it just means that should life get cut shorter than what you’d envisioned, you know it is well with your soul.
3. Bank treasure in heaven. I’m all for making and banking as much cash as I can. Why? Well, hunting is expensive, Miami is expensive and I’d like to leave my kids some money that they can misspend. However, at the end of the day, truth be told, most of the things we lust after are about as important as Hillary Duff’s latest album. Therefore, in all of our getting we need to get things that will follow us beyond the grave. I’m talking about being rich in good works and standing for truth in a day of lies, hype and spin.
You know what I mean . . . eternal things, like being compassionate and merciful both to those who share our beliefs and to those who don’t. And making certain that above all things we leave a legacy of justice, mercy and faithfulness and not just of Gucci, Mercedes and ridiculousness. By allowing calamity to realign our priorities we will be better prepared to embrace that which endures versus that which amounts to manure.
When (not if) the trials come, we can be certain that they will reveal our courage, call, commitment and convictions. They will show what we are truly made of instead of how we might appear. The lesson can be brutal for individuals and nations if we’re caught spiritually napping.
Regardless of how disheartening the difficulties can be, they should not send us into a tailspin. Rather, they should bring out the best in the believer. They can, if played correctly, bring us back to the biblical basics of faith, hope and love. If engaged properly they can serve us by shaking us down, shaping us up, softening our hearts and steeling our will in a right direction. And that’s exactly what I am praying for during this historical moment.
* Logon to www.ClashRadio.com and get a copy of Giles’ latest teaching DVD, Ruling in Babylon, filmed before a very live audience in Cape Town, South Africa. Also, check out his interview with Annie Jacobsen, author of the book, Terror in the Skies: Why 911 Could Happen Again.