This week, I read through Colossians and stopped halfway through chapter one. Pondering this comforting truth, we have nothing to fear. God assures us that He is on the Throne. Nothing is beyond His control; He is above and before everything and He is the last word. Our King and Lord holds all things together (Col.1:16-18 ESV).
So, when life feels like it's falling apart, when our country seems to be imploding, when God appears distant, remember, He isn't finished writing this story. He's already penned the final chapters and the conclusion won't be muddled in darkness. His light will shine forth in clarity and truth.
Over the last few months, my mind keep wandering back to the plight of the Israelites; throughout the Old Testament records of their journey with God, we see example after example of their stubborn refusal to submit. They knew God's directives but chose to pave their own path and walk away. They stumbled into the darkness and God brought them back to Him, usually through captivity by another nation.
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. (19) Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. (20) And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. (II Kings 17:18-20)
I used to think that God's response toward them was a little harsh. Can't you punish them some other way, Lord? Use a method less severe than slavery?
But, one idea God revealed involved the apparent situation of His people: they were already in slavery. They had already chosen to follow other gods--either by wood and stone or their own selfish hearts. Their prideful idolatry had enslaved their hearts, but they were blind to their predicament until God allowed their bodies to be enslaved as well. Their physical plight awoke them to their spiritual depravity.
How often could we say the same of our culture? Many within our nation zip around with corporate tasks and social interactions, but their hearts are hollow and full of darkness and doubt. What's it all for? Why am I here? Is this as good as it gets?
John Piper asserts that biblical suffering is a gift. (Phil. 1:29, Matt. 5:11, Romans 5:3, I Peter 4:13). It makes us less satisfied with this world and ourselves and what we can do and more focused on God and who He is and what He can do. Now, ultimately, we'd prefer to suffer with purpose for doing right than to suffer because we were stupid and wandered away from God's purpose for our lives.
Remember that God doesn't waste anything; he can take the burnt ashes of our destruction and make glorious growth. And He promises to share the comfort of His presence (2 Corinthians 1:5). His victory is sure. Rest in that knowledge and remember that He is still reigning supreme.