Dear PRCW-ers and readers of this post: God’s sovereignty can be a mystery especially His hard providence. This has been a tough time. It’s been difficult to hear or read about businesses having to close temporarily, or about people feeling cooped up at home or feeling overwhelmed in the hospital, or about schools deciding to be closed indefinitely.
Such news brings grief and sorrow. I am sorry for your losses if you are reading this.
There are certain people in the Bible who experienced losses. Huge losses and not by accident or by chance.
We all know Job’s story. Everything seemed to be going fine, when suddenly all of hell’s forces were unleashed against Job. Satan revealed his cynicism when he had asked, “Does Job fear for nothing?… Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (1:9-11). In order to show Job’s integrity, God tested Job by allowing Satan to bring certain destruction into his life. The Sabeans took his herds and killed his servants (1:15). Lightening struck Job’s sheep and shepherds (1:16). Chaldeans raided Job’s camels and killed the servants looking after them (1:17). A cyclone struck the house where all Job’s children were feasting and killed them (1:18, 19).
And yet, though he went through all this disaster, his link with the Lord was unbroken. He still had faith in the Lord. He said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed by the name of the LORD.” The first chapter, verse 3, makes it very clear that Job was blameless and upright. He really did maintain his trust in the Lord.
Draw your attention in particular to what chapter 2:10 says – the very last sentence: “in all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (cf. Job 1:22).
The Holy Spirit has provided us a commentary on Job’s response to this trial. This is what James also said in James 5:11. “You have heard of Job’s perseverance.” The meaning of the word is “standing firm under pressure”. When God came to Job in the whirlwind at the end of the book, the Lord never explained why He worked in his life in this way. He came to Job to show His sovereign power over all things. He questioned Job to humble him and to make Job see that He indeed is powerful and mighty in all that He does. But also that He is a God who can be trusted when life hurts and when life is hard. He is not an enemy even when His hand is bringing hardship. He is a Friend to us.
As the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “how does this knowledge of creation and providence help us?” With its timeless and helpful answer, it says, “we can be patient when things are against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we have confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved” (Lord’s Day 10).
Yes, God’s sovereignty can be a mystery especially His hard providence. BUT we must trust God even when life is hard.
And we can pray.
1. Pray that the Lord would strengthen your faith when you go through trials. God said to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
2. Pray for God’s comfort in times of adversity. As Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
The temptation is to pray that God would end this all in our time or when we think it would be right. We can certainly ask that the Lord would bring an end by providing a cure or through some other divine intervention. And He very well can do this! But we do so acknowledging that that these sobering times are from an all-knowing and benevolent God.
He is reminding everyone, including the church, through these unsettled times that He is in control and that we are finite creatures. We can pray asking that God may accomplish His purposes, whatever the personal costs might be to us. And we can pray that we all will be reminded of His holiness and our sinfulness, His immutability and our demise, and further His life and our helplessness. May we all may be driven in our greatest need to Jesus Christ.
God is God and we are not.
But God is merciful to all who call upon Him!
In Christ, Pastor Rich Anjema