February 10

In last week’s Family Page article I spoke of some of the recent tragedies and shared some thoughts on how we as Christians can respond to some of the questions our friends and neighbors and family members might ask. Of course we ourselves have these same questions come up in our minds as well, and certainly so as each new week seems to bring new crises and more questions.
The tragedies of our day, though they seem incredibly numerous, are no better or worse than those that have affected every generation. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Some of the specifics are different, but would you rather live in a previous century—in the days of Herod, or Pharaoh, or the Assyrians? The truth is Satan has always used violence, tragedies and injustice to try to turn people away from a just and loving God. The Son of God being unjustly accused, punished, humiliated, and crucified should convince all that the Lord understands what we sometimes go through in this life. Certainly Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)
We should remember that God’s ways, concerns and wisdom are far above our own, and therefore we should not be completely taken off guard when we don’t fully understand the way God is acting or not acting in His world. Though He cares about our physical situation, God’s ultimate concern is for our spiritual well being and the spiritual health and future of others, and not just my physical or emotional safety at this particular time.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we must live in fear and dread, not knowing what will happen to us. In fact, it can be very encouraging and even liberating to know that God works in all these things even when we don’t understand His actions or agree with His decisions. That’s when faith is really faith. Anybody can believe when they get their way or at least understand what’s going on. It’s in the other times when we must really trust God and not ourselves.
Knowing God has a bigger agenda than my own is a comforting though challenging thought. Sometimes God saves us from the losses and sufferings, and in those times we are thankful. But there are times and ways when God chooses to save us or others through the losses from some even greater, possibly eternal, harm. How does He do that?
By calling us to trust in God and not ourselves/health/family/possessions/etc.
By calling us to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3), no matter how valuable those “earthly things” might be.
By calling us to minister to those that are hurting—through the valuable service of prayer as well as by offering help in ways according to their needs and our abilities and opportunities.
By calling us to minister to the hurting where we find them—in our families, churches and communities.
And let’s not forget the rest of Jesus’ words in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Ultimately, no matter what we might go through now, we have “victory in Jesus.”

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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