“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
Reflecting on the uncertainty that marks so many aspects of our daily lives these days, I am reminded of the centuries-old Chinese saying, “It is better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos!” Continuing crises, from Haiti earthquakes to the Afghanistan collapse to western states’ water shortages to questions stirred by the COVID-19 Delta variant and its potential impact, combine with the particular challenges of our own personal lives to remind us that the one thing that is certain is that little is certain.
In unstable times like these, a favorite tactic of the evil one is to suggest that God must not love us if he is allowing all this upheaval. It’s critical to remember that Jesus was clear this sin-damaged world would be marked by brokenness: “In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33).” When such trouble seems to pile up, the struggles can grow to fill our frame of reference, resulting in anxiety and discouragement.
So, we must make sure to read the whole of John 16:33— “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” For we Christ-followers, our point of reference is not our circumstances but the One who is sovereign over those circumstances. Further, our time point reference looks beyond the present to a promised forever with that sovereign Lord who loves us: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Perhaps it helps to consider that God is not interested so much in making our time here on earth comfortable as He is in preparing us for eternity with Him. We are not destined to stay; we are called to move on to something greater: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
Allow me to close with a long but impactful quote from C.S. Lewis’s book “The Problem of Pain”—
“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment, he has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God; a few moments of happy meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”