Review: For those outside of Christ, all kinds/sizes of misfortunes should be interpreted as precursors of the coming Day of God’s Anger. They function as warning signs to dissuade people from continuing down their current path.
GET OFF. TURN AROUND. REPENT.
Even as the people of God are experiencing the same trials alongside those who are not the people of God, we would be mistaken to arrive at interpretations of our afflictions that are impersonal, secular, cold. To those who are God’s children, the arrival of trials ® calamities should be understood differently. No matter how scary things get, or how sharp the sting, the proper inference is NEVER that God isn’t for the man or woman in Christ.
Another way of saying that: every brother of Christ not only can come through the fires unscathed; the Father of Christ is directing so that the fires are positively productive, further shaping him to some good end.
Brothers and sisters, this very personal interpretation of troubles lies close to the heart of the Gospel. The Father of Jesus has become our Father. So, facts:
- Our trials don’t erupt suddenly out of chaos.
- Malignant and/or impersonal forces have not gotten the upper hand.
- No, the coronavirus rod of affliction is grasped by the Father’s divine hand. Through this stay home advisory, the Father is disciplining us “for our good.” In the Dow Jones turmoil “God is treating you as sons.” (Hebrews 11: 7, 10)
So, in Christ, we are not merely survivors of various downturns or tragedies or even sinister circumstances. Throughout all, Christians are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).
Important detail: This is different than feeling like we’re more than conquerors.
I’m not raising an obscure point: God speaks repeatedly and clearly of His peculiar oversight of and productive intentions for His people. As a result of this emphasis, we are strongly admonished against the typical fearfulness that spins its wheels in fretting and imagining the worst and looking for someone to blame.
Even though you’ve been at home, I hope you’ve still managed to get dressed today. Well, if so, imagine God towering over you, reaching down to seize both sides of your collar, and peering into your eyes. Here’s the message:
God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said:
“Don’t be like this people,
always afraid somebody is plotting against them.
Don’t fear what they fear.
Don’t take on their worries.
If you’re going to worry,
worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
The Holy can be … a Hiding Place (Isaiah 8:12-14)
Brother and sisters, you might be a faithful and attentive follower of Jesus. I hope you are. Or you might be a distracted, unevenly obedient, casually ignorant follower of Jesus.
Whichever the case may be, with the arrival of coronavirus you need to be recalled to the big truth: God is your Father. Don’t interpret this moment apart from Him. As the chatter around you increases, as the atmosphere of fear becomes palpable – REMEMBER: your first concern as a child of God is to stay poised in order to attend to Him.
So, here’s the question of this e-mail. Despite all the noise, the biggest question is, through the coronavirus what is our Father, the God who is for us, saying to us?
Augustine asked the similar question after another calamity, when some of Tonia’s ancestors sacked Rome in the early 5th century. And I’m following his lead in understanding God’s message in calamity to bear three distinct meanings for three categories of people: those outside of Christ; the children of God who are loving the world; the children of God who, generally speaking, are doing His will.
In one of my next posts we’ll discuss God’s disciplining word to His worldly children.