Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 7/14/09

The Conversion of Saul on the Road to Damascus,
Caravaggio, 1600

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”Hebrews 11:1

What if they’re right?

There is so much chaos, so much pain, so much suffering and sorrow, that we don’t even know what to do with most of the time. There is so much agony and anguish, hurt and misery that it almost seems impossible for it not to torment our hearts and our souls, our spirits and our minds. So wicked men working their wicked ways throughout this world that we are left to wonder, we are left to question amidst all of the affliction and distress that we see.

How do we explain it? Most of the time we can’t and it leaves these lingering questions lurking in the shadow of our minds. There are no words to express it all or to explain it all away, and in the end all we are left with is that question… that one deep and abiding question that we can’t seem to shake off, that we can’t seem to get rid of or escape, no matter how hard it is that we may have tried.

What if they’re right?

What if the atheists and the unbelievers, the doubters and the detractors are right? What if there is no God up there? What if there is no righteous Judge, no great Deliverer? What if Jesus was in fact just a man… just a very good man who lived a very good life? What if the idea of a Christ was nothing more than a tale we tell ourselves to help us go to sleep at night, so that life has a greater, grander purpose to it or so that we just don’t feel so alone out here as we search for some sense of meaning in our lives?

How could we not question?

Looking to the plight of the captives, taken from their homes and ripped from their lives, held in misery and despair by evil men of bitter unrighteousness, we see life held cheap in the darkest of places, far from where we can get to them, how can we not ask ourselves, where is God in all of this?

As we hear the cry of the slaves, beaten and abused by their brutal oppressors, subjugated and treated as nothing more than livestock with less value as they live their lives, the integrity ripped from it, it’s almost impossible not to ask, where is God in all of this?

Where is God in all of this as we see the girls torn from their homes as they are grabbed from the street, all dignity robbed from them as they are drugged… as they are drugged and used for nothing more than their body, vile, despicable men spending their lives and their innocence for their own personal gain and profit?

Where, we have to ask ourselves, is God when we can’t help but see the prisoners held in dank, murky dungeons, in death camps, forced to march to the sound of the brutal tyrants and the men of such bitter iniquity who seek their own glorification and gratifications?

Where is God when we see this through every page, through every chapter of our history, as unrighteousness seems to stand while all that is good and pure seems to struggle or to crumble right there before our eyes amidst the deep, death cries of the torment and the agony that is inflicted upon it?

Where is God we wonder and we just can’t, at times figure it out. Maybe they are right. But if they are, then what’s next? Then what do we have to put our hope and our faith in? What do we have to put our trust in?

The world all around us can be a bleak, dark place, so given to evil and to hurt and to pain, yet without the Lord God Almighty, without our Heavenly Father it can be even the darker, even the bleaker, with nothing… nothing for us to abide in. No lasting sense of hope, no optimism, just the expectation of wickedness, unrighteousness and injustice that seems to dwell all around us.

Most of us, we see the suffering and the affliction of our fellow man, and we wonder why, why can’t God come with a flaming sword of justice to smite the wicked or to put to flight the brutal captivity that we see dwelling all around us? We grew up on the stories of Moses leading the children of Israel from the hands of the Pharaoh, delivering them from the atrocities of that slavery and we wonder to ourselves, why can’t He work like He did then, parting the seas and setting a pillar of light and fire in the sky to set the slaves free in our time? We read of Saul of Tarsus’ conversion on the road to Damascus. Here a man of bitter iniquity, a persecutor of the church, a destroyer of lives, and we wonder to ourselves, why doesn’t God work in that way anymore? Why doesn’t He strike the ground around the wicked and open the skies, His booming voice crying out from Heaven for their repentance?

But just because that’s not how God works amidst our world today, doesn’t mean that He isn’t there or that He doesn’t contend with the cause of His children in love and compassion, in mercy and in kindness, showing His devotion…. His faithful devotion, unwavering and ever vigilant, unto them.

The miracles of the Lord occur not just in the largest of ways, but in the smallest as well, in the ways we don’t even notice at the times that they happen. There we know that, though it may seem like evil is on the rise, and wickedness is on the march, God is there working His ways. He is preserving and strengthening the hearts and the souls of His children, He is giving them faith and courage even amidst these darkest of trials, He is doing battle for the cause of His people throughout all the ordeals and the challenges that they face.

Just because we can’t always see God there and just because we don’t always understand His ways or His gracious, tender and loving precepts, doesn’t mean that He’s not there. In His time, in His way, He will reveal the fullness of His plan, in love, for His children, even when it seems like little about it made sense at the time.

Here we have firm foundation and our refuge for the lost and wounded souls… it is a blessed assurance that comes from a gracious and loving Heavenly Father who cares for us and who struggles for us and for our cause throughout all of the days of our lives, a Heavenly Father who never fails or forsakes His children, who never abandons His children amidst the plights and the struggles of this world and who never leaves us like lambs unto the slaughter. Faithful to His word in all ways, in all places we know that through Him and by the love of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that all is possible in our lives.

We therefore may ask, what if they are right? But when we place our hope and our trust in the Lord, our Heavenly Father, and the salvation that is granted through His Son, who ransomed us all and set captivity captive, we shall know that we have the truth… that truth that shall forever set us free.

Place your trust not in the things of this world or the wisdom that it may claim to hold. Instead know there is a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for you in His compassion and His mercy. Look for His signs and trust in the transcending, encompassing miracles of the Lord, given unto you by His loving hand through the power of His Holy Spirit for your salvation and edification and know He shall be devoted to your cause and the cause of all who struggle in agony and anguish in this world around us.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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