It's been a somewhat turbulent week, at least for the one who listens to the news, hears about the economic crisis, foreclosures, the worst housing slump in nearly 20 years, the financial bailout deal and then considers the corruption that goes on at the highest echelons of the financial world we so trust in. Add that to the usual news of terrorist activities, hostilities between nations, and the sense we all feel that we lack the ability to stop the downward spirial and it can be somewhat frightening. I've even noticed it in the general mood of people, and the looming sense of quiet nervousness I see when I look around. People just want it to get better and all go away.
A friend wrote this to me today:
"I was reading Haggai 2 this morning. Verse 6-7 says, For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts."
The current financial crisis is just one part of what seems to be another shaking of the nations. It encourages me that through the shaking, the Desire of all nations comes into view (Jesus) and this house (our lives as temples of the ) are filled with His glory. The hard times are indeed often the times through which God is most glorified in His church."
He's right. At times like these the church has its greatest opportunity to stand out from among the masses and be different. Knowing we serve a Sovereign King who rules over all helps keep fears at bay by assuring us God is on His throne. It also helps us know there must be a purpose in it all. is right: "Nothing comes our way that does not first pass through the filter of God's love for us." Whatever we are experiencing there is something to be learned -- some impetus of growth for us in it -- or it would never pass through the filter of His love and land at our doorstep. (Can you tell I just ended a two year study of Job not long ago?!)
For too long we have gotten our sense of peace, contentment, freedom from anxiety or stress and a calm faith-filled outlook toward the future from the wrong source (whether we were conscious of it or not). And since God "will not share His glory with another, or His praise with idols," He must, at some point, shake things up and draw our attention to idolatries that we may have been unaware of, or in denial about.
One of the ways God shows us the "idols" who have been sharing His glory in our hearts is to shake them and let us watch them teeter back and forth, and with it our confidence in them, and then let us see and feel our response to their downfall or demise. With our mouths we say the economy is not an idol, but the nervousness we sometimes feel inside at its potential collapse should tell us otherwise.
Yet why are we nervous when God remains in control. Why the anxiety when the object of our trust and confidence never changes. The world is shaken, and things seem to be falling apart at the seams, but He remains forever strong and wise and trustworthy (His robe is seemless)! The circumstances that assault us do not change His immmutable nature or the immutable nature of His promises to care for and provide the needs of His people -- promises that are not conditioned on the state of the U.S. or world economy.
By shaking those idols He is simply calling us back to Himself as the source of our confidence -- the God in whom it should have been resting wholly and entirely all along. Not Him plus Wall Street, or Him plus anything else. In fact, if the trust or faith of His people for peace, rest of soul, freedom from worry and anxiety, joy, happiness and an unbroken confidence that our needs will be supplied, comes more from the strength of the U.S. economy than Him, He must strike it down, for in that case it has indeed become an idol, and thus has come to share His glory, and praise. It has become a "replacement savior," or to use another term, it has become "co-redemptrix" (to us) with Jesus.
My friend is right: "The hard times are indeed often the times through which God is most glorified in His church." Let people see your trust in Him and not your fears about the economy. It's a time to be confident in God and not anxious about the potential loss of things. We may indeed have to settle for less, but maybe we've had so much for so long we've "forgotten our God." (Proverbs 30:7-9)
God is in control, my friends. There was never a time when He was not or will not be. Let its truth temper your fears and guide your heart even through turbulent times.
Trusting In Him, Pastor Jeff
Dr. Jeffrey F. Evans