We live in a crazy world. I don’t think that’s a hard sell. I think most, if not all, people would say our world is deeply broken. 2017 was a year of horrendous events. Wildfires in California that killed 43 and destroyed over 8,000 structures. Earthquakes in Mexico that killed 369 people.
Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria that killed hundreds. A mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured more than 500. A mass shooting that killed 26 and injured 20 others in a Texas church. Racism continues to be alive and well in our country.
Since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, 400,000 people have died. And then there’s North Korea. Their nuclear warhead program has rapidly progressed. Supposedly North Korea now has nuclear warheads that can strike anywhere in the United States, and our leader and their leader have no problem with threatening each other with nuclear war.
Our world is rampant with evil. Our country is rampant with evil and we celebrate it. The movies and shows we watch are full of violence and deceit and crude humor. The video games we play do as well. The music we listen to celebrates promiscuity and getting high and drunk. The sports we watch include beating people up to the point of unconsciousness. We talk about what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
As Christians, how are we to live in our broken world? How do we resist worry and despair when everything around us is falling apart?
At Abundant Life, we’ve been turning to the book of Daniel for answers. Daniel and his buddies were captured by the Babylonians and forced to serve the evil King Nebuchadnezzar. In preparation for their service, Daniel and his friends were trained in the pagan culture of the Babylonians. It would have been easy for Daniel and his companions to wallow in despair. But they don’t. Why? They saw their circumstances through the lens of faith. They had the perspective that God was in control and that he loved his people.
What can we learn from Daniel? When life gets difficult, we can choose our perspective. We can choose to focus on the frustration. We can choose to focus on how evil appears to be triumphing. We can choose to worry. We can choose to whine and complain. We can choose self pity. We can choose to grow bitter. Or we can choose to view our difficult circumstances through the lens of faith. We can choose to focus on the fact that God is in control and that he loves us perfectly. This of course means that He withholds nothing that is necessary for our holiness and long term happiness. This of course also means that He never brings into our life anything that is unnecessary for our holiness and long term happiness. Everything that comes into our lives first has to pass through God’s filter of love, wisdom, and control. That means if it has gotten through to us, we can know that it has come with great purpose. It’s the best possible way to produce the best possible results in our lives and in the lives of others. If there was a kinder more gentle way, God, in his sovereignty and love, would have chosen it for us.
You know we go through trials and difficulty for several reasons. Sometimes it is the result of our sin. Sometimes it is the result of other’s sin. Sometimes it is simply the result of living in a broken world. But no matter why we’re suffering, if we are God’s child through faith in Christ, we can have peace knowing that it is necessary. Our suffering isn’t meaningless. Our suffering isn’t pointless. God is using it to work out his good purpose for us. No ounce of pain and difficulty will be wasted.
Like Daniel, God promises to be with you in your Babylon. There will be manna for you today. And there will be new manna for you tomorrow. Lean into Jesus and you will find him carrying you.
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Plan, Part 3
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Plan, Part 2
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