Posted in Devotions

You probably don’t know what God is up to

As a parish pastor, the majority of my conversations contain some reference to God. Lately, the majority also include information, comments and opinions about the Covid-19 pandemic. And many of the folks I talk with want to know if there’s a connection between the two.

Some interpret the millions of positive tests as a sign of the end, since biblical images of the end times includes pestilence. Some view the virus as punitive, God’s judgment on an ungodly world. Still others see it is a call to repentance, urging unfaithful people to turn back to God.

I’m extremely cautious about trying to connect the dots between current events and the actions of God. I remember a few guys in the Old Testament who tried to figure out what God was up to. Job and his friends thought they had all the answers. Boy were they wrong!

At the beginning of the book of Job, God grants Satan permission to test Job’s faith. Satan thinks Job is only faithful because he is blessed. Take away the good stuff, and Job will fold. He’ll curse God to HIs face. God says, “OK. Give it your best shot.” Job suffers the loss of his house, all his livestock and his house. In response, Job went to church. He worshiped God.

Satan raises the stakes. If you take away Job’s health, Job will curse God to His face. God says, “He’s all yours. Just don’t kill him.” Job breaks out in sores all over his body. He is miserable. Yet he still doesn’t say one bad thing about God.

Three friends come to sit with Job, and for the first week, no one says much. But then they all begin to offer explanations as to why Job is suffering as he is. Their theories don’t sound that bad.

Job must have done something to deserve this. God must be disciplining Job. Get your act together and God will once again bless you.

That theory makes sense to me. If you get caught speeding, you get a ticket. Pay the fine, go to traffic school, drive more carefully in the future. Case closed.

Job’s not buying their diagnosis. His big question is, “What did I do wrong?” He follows up by asking, “What did I do to deserve this?” He my not be perfect, but did Job really deserve so much misery? And finally he wonders, “If I’m that bad, why doesn’t God save himself a lot of trouble and just let me die?”

Job’s words make sense, too. At the very beginning of this book, wasn’t God just boasting about what a good guy Job was? Surely there must be others that needed discipline a lot more than someone like Job. Job makes a good point when he points out many despicable people that aren’t being disciplined. It just doesn’t add up.

In the end, they are all wrong. They have no idea what they are talking about. Every attempt to explain God and how things work is misinformed. They are oblivious to what is happening in the spiritual realm.

I am very aware that I am not aware of everything God is up to. For me to speculate about God’s judgment on some and not others is far above my pay grade. My best guesses about the end would be ridiculous. All I know for sure is what God has told me in His Word. I know I deserve to punished for my sins. I know I’m not punished because Jesus was crucified for my sins. I know I’m going to die one day. I know I’ll be resurrected one day.

Those truths get me through good days and bad days, health and illnesses, hurricanes and beach days, unexpected bills and unexpected blessings. What is God up to on days like that? Who knows?

Posted in church, Grace, Ministry

All the signs are there

58054dca7ec3a.imageNo church today. Waiting for Hurricane Irma to traverse the Florida peninsula. Plenty of time to think and pray…

Of course you’re going to hear about it. You’ve thought about it, too. How could you not? All the pieces are there: a total eclipse, back-to-back hurricanes hitting the United States, a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, scorching wildfires in the west after record high temperatures and years of drought, hatred and violence in places like Charlottesville, VA and nuclear war just over the horizon. Science fiction writer John Scalzi tweeted, “These aren’t the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now” (1:20 pm Sept 8. 2017)

[Jesus said,] “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).

Just make sure you keep reading. “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). The coming of our Lord is good news for God’s people. We’ve been waiting for him, right? Continue reading “All the signs are there”