We are living in historic and somewhat troubling times. But I don’t think these are unique times. Don Whitney just wrote about 1968, a time of intense racial turmoil and worldwide disease. I think his discussion of that historical year (which I clearly remember) can give us some perspective.
My wife and I also recently visited a local cemetery where, in a family row of graves, we found markers for two young siblings who passed away only a few days apart. They died in 1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic. That pandemic was a couple of years of social distancing, no large group meetings, and face masks for all. Sound familiar?
While it may not bring you comfort, realizing humans have been down this path before gives me some hope.
I have heard many friends and acquaintances ask this question, “What is God up to?” over the last four or five months. At first, I responded with, “I don’t know.” What Don Whitney points out is that God was working in 1968 and brought about the Jesus Movement when thousands of young people turned to the Lord and our ideas about worship music started changing.
Likewise, interest in Bible study surged after the Spanish flu pandemic. But my response troubled me. Isn’t God up to all the things He has always been doing? So, I began to contemplate God’s work in our world. Here are a few of those ideas. I am sure you can think of many more.
He stands with us. Matthew 28:20.
He is saving people as His own from every tribe, tongue, and nation and making them into a kingdom and priests. Revelation 5:9-10
He is transforming us into His glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18
God is working for our good. Romans 8:28
He is seeking the lost. Luke 19:10
He is completing His good work in us. Philippians 1:6
God is being faithful to us. 1 Corinthians 1:9
He will sustain us to the end. 1 Corinthians 1:8
Christ is setting us free. Galatians 5:1
He is holding all things together. Colossians 1:17
He shows us His steadfast love and forgives our iniquities. Exodus 34:7
He is listening and hears our prayers. 2 Chronicles 7:14
He is building His church. Matthew 16:18
God exercises justice for the oppressed and needy. Psalm 146:7
He gives wisdom to those who ask for it. James 1:5
God blesses us. Psalm 67:7
Through the Spirit, He gives gifts. Ephesians 2:4
God gives grace. James 4:6
God gives us salvation. Titus 2:11
He is making known the riches of His glory. Romans 9:23
He calls us. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
He desires that we have unity with one another. Ephesians 4:11-13
He gives us fellowship with one another and with the Father and the Son. 2 Corinthians 13:14
He is preparing a place for us with Him. John 14:2-3
The Father knows my needs and provides for them. Matthew 6:32-33
When I consider what God is doing, I am humbled. Why do I get worried about the events around me? I may show legitimate concern but if God is doing these great things, is He not caring for me? Is He not always working to grow my faith? Is He not desiring that I love and obey His Word more closely? Is He not sending me encouragement to trust Him and lean on Him more and more? Is he not desiring me to walk more closely with Him? Is He not providing means to tell others about Jesus? Maybe, at the end of the day, God is still up to these things.
The result of this is simply, do not despair. God has worked in the past. He is always working in the present. And, He will work until His plan is complete. While I cannot give you a minute-by-minute interpretation of God’s actions, His past blessings stand as a monumental testament that we can trust Him in the present and in the future.
He has proven Himself faithful so we might be faithful in return. “The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV)”