Has your life – like mine – had an extreme makeover in recent weeks? As local schools and universities close, have you suddenly found yourself trying to be a homeschooler, or an ad-hoc IT expert stretching household bandwidth so kids and parents can all work online at home? Has the economic earthquake left you unemployed or just unsure about how far family finances will go? Or maybe you’re one of our army of healthcare professionals who suddenly feel like we’re in a war and have found yourself on the front lines. We applaud you, appreciate you and many of us are praying for you. As the whole world tries to navigate what is, for most of us, our first pandemic, we’re walking a path littered with more questions than answers. What do we do with all the unknowns?
I was reminded this week of something I heard a few months ago that rang true. We can trust an unknown future to a known God. However, it’s hard to trust someone you don’t know. So, (in case you don’t know Him well) I’d like to humbly offer a few things about the God I know, the God who has already carried me through some personal life and death moments. Maybe I will have the opportunity to tell you about some of those later, but for now, the best encouragement I can give you is to focus on God.
God wants to be known by you — not because He needs recognition, but because he knows you better than you know yourself. He knows every hair on your head and every thought you’ll think — and He loves you anyway. He wants you to know he loves you and He has gone to great lengths to reveal it to you. In fact, He wrote you a 66-book love letter telling you about His one-of-a-kind, 3-D plan to show you His love. God gets how hard it is to know Him. (After all, He is invisible.) So His plan involved sending His Son, Jesus, physically to earth to help you get to know Him, and know how much He loves you. A lot of that love letter is devoted to telling in advance what would happen when Jesus came to earth, recapping events of the 30 years He was here, and giving us a heads up on what will happen in the future. (God actually tells us there will be plagues in the future; coronavirus is kind of like a plague. God wants you to know that He loves you and has a good plan for you — a plan to give you a hope and a future.
God wants to give you hope — and peace of mind and joy and lots of other great stuff. God knows it’s hard to live in this broken world. He made it perfect at first , but human beings have messed it up. It’s kind of like when you get a new house. Everything is bright and clean and new, but then people start living there. Those perfectly painted walls get chipped, the new wooden floors get scratched, carpets wear and things break. One day you realize the house is a hopeless mess that you can’t fix. That’s how the world is. That’s how our lives can be. Our paint started chipping when the first people started pushing God away so they could do things their way. Their way wasn’t better. Pushing away the God who loves you and wants to give you hope is never better, but people thought it was. People still think it is. People have tried to push God out of schools and government and our lives, but that is kind of like a crime against a holy, loving God and just leaves us hopeless. So when Jesus came, living out that 3-D love story, He paid the ultimate penalty for every person’s crime against God — the death penalty — but He gave us hope, by not staying dead. That’s what we celebrate at Easter, Jesus coming back to life and giving us hope. We can trust that we will rise after we die and live forever because He did it first. Jesus physically appeared to over 500 witnesses after coming back to life and then, when He was surrounded by some of them, He was lifted up before their eyes to Heaven. Before He left, He told everyone that this broken world — this chipped-paint house — isn’t all there is. When we’re done here, people who believe in Him will go to a new-paint, new-carpet, brand spanking new-everything place “with many rooms” that He has prepared for us. And as a bonus, He promised never to leave us alone here; He promised that His invisible Spirit will always be with people here who believe what He says and live like it. Now THAT’S hope.
God wants you to be close to Him — which is why He prepared that beautiful new place “with many rooms” for you to live in forever after you’re done here. You are precious to God. From the beginning of human time, God has wanted to be close to His people. He literally breathed life-giving breath into the first man He made. Generations later, God freed His people from slavery in Egypt so they could draw near Him in worship; He even had them build a portable temple in their camp where His visible presence lived as He led them day and night through a hard time of wandering around a desert. God knows a thing or two about hard times so He can walk with you through yours. And, of course, Jesus (God) left the perfection of Heaven to come to earth and be with us. He was born a human baby (Christmas) in order to die a criminal’s death on a Roman cross and rise from the dead (Easter) to open the way for you to be close to Him forever.
We can trust an unknown future to a known God because of the character He has revealed to people from the beginning of time. He has woven together the past, present and future of humanity to show you His love, fill you with hope, and draw you close to Him — now and forever. He is good and He doesn’t change. He is all-powerful and uses every situation for His good purposes in the lives of the people who believe in Him as their God. He uses what we see as disappointments or disasters to bring about our long-term good. A friend of mine was disappointed a few weeks ago when he didn’t get a new job he had applied for. Looking back, he can see now that God was protecting him by NOT giving him that job, because the current economy will likely put the company he would have worked for out of business. Perhaps God will use this coronavirus chaos to draw people who have been pushing Him away close to Him, so He can take care of them for the rest of their lives — here and in eternity? Could that be you? His drawing is a huge gift, because anyone who doesn’t choose to draw near to Him will spend forever, separated from Him — in a place with much worse suffering than any illness on earth. Perhaps God is doing all of us a big favor by revealing to us the reality that we can’t fix everything, that our “crimes committed against God” and against each other have us in a hopeless mess that we cannot fix. So where are you? Do YOU believe the truth that Jesus is God — that, though Jesus was innocent, He paid the criminal’s price on the cross for YOU and stands ready to forgive you for everything you’ve done wrong? If you believe that, but have not declared it, simply talk to Jesus. Say His Name. Call Him your God. Accept His forgiveness. Begin to live as He leads.
If you already believe and follow Jesus, share this with someone who doesn’t, and pray for God to draw him or her close in love and hope. We can trust an unknown future to a known God — both our future here on earth, and eternity.
* My words are only as useful as God’s Words, on which they are based. If you want to see some of the verses from God’s Word, the Bible, that are the foundation of what you just read, look below.
- Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
- For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
- God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
- (Adam & Eve rebelled against God by taking the one thing He said wasn’t good for them. It’s a bit long, but here is a link.) Genesis 3:1-7
- But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
- For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
1 Corinthians 15:3-7
- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
- Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
- Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
- Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.