“Even If He Does Not…”
December 29, 2020
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your Gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV 1984).
As program director for an oncology fellowship, this week I welcomed five new fellows into their three-year training program. Two weeks before they started, one of the new fellows was Facetiming his 36-year-old brother in India. While they were speaking, his brother suffered a heart attack and died. This Friday I received word from another starting fellow. Her previously healthy father had suffered a brain hemorrhage and would be hemiplegic and aphasic forever, if he lived. (He did not.) And, as a backdrop to these tragedies, the 19-year-old son of a local pastor dove into a shallow pool last week and is now paralyzed.
This is more than I can handle. These tragedies are part of the real life we live, and I can in no way get my mind around them. My heart is crushed for those who are directly affected. Any one of these tragedies contains more pathos and profundity than I can possibly sort out, even if I spent my whole life doing so. Much less could I ever make it right again for those involved. The pain of this world, even in my tiny corner, is too much for me.
Do I believe in a God for whom it is not too much?
This world with all of its scientific brilliance will eventually diminish the numbers of people who have heart attacks at 36 and those who suffer spontaneous intracranial bleeds. Thank God. But other monsters will rise in their place and pounce upon our human frailty. How about Coronavirus in New York City? It has been the same since Adam’s fall. There is no eutopia without God. Tens of millions of people have been sacrificed seeking a path toward humankind perfection under leaders such as Stalin and Chairman Mao and Pol Pot, without a glimmer of success. There is no eutopia if humankind is left to its own machinations.
But, praise His name, God is; and one day He will reign over a world where I will watch Him “…wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17, NIV 1984). As He told us through the voice of the Incarnate Jesus, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, NKJV.
Oswald Chambers put it this way: “There is a gap and wildness in things, and if God does not step up and adjust it, there is no hope; but God has stepped in by the Redemption, and our part is to trust Him. Either the pessimist is right, and we are autumn leaves driven by the blast of some ultimate, mindless power; or else the way out is by the Redemption of Jesus Christ.”
Let me trust You when it is my time in the fire. Let me bring cool water to those whose lives have been set ablaze.