God Is Not Helpless Among The Ruins
Sunday, January 27 2019
I wrote this reflection a few years ago now, shortly after a young friend died suddenly of a heart attack.
At the time, other friends were enduring different but also debilitating trials: their cancer had metastasized aggressively, their family had had to separate for a time while one of the parents sought work in another city or country, their child had just been discovered in alcohol and drugs… The list went on and on.
Today, two days after the 20th anniversary of a devastating earthquake that left our city of Armenia, Colombia in rubbles, I was reminded of that reflection - and the truth that it conveys: a truth that can bring hope and courage into the heaviness of our own struggling souls; the truth that, come what may, however incredibly tragic and heart-wrenching the news may be…
"God is not helpless among the ruins".
When one day, completely unexpectedly, your life free-falls and then shatters into a thousand pieces as it smashes to the ground, and you ask yourself in despair: what will I do? how will I cope and continue on? – even then…
"God is not helpless among the ruins".
Because I firmly believe what I read some time ago: a quote from Eric Liddell, a Scottish athlete who competed and won in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France; and who subsequently became a missionary teacher to China until his 1945 death in a Japanese civilian internment camp.
In his book Disciplines of the Christian Life, he wrote:
“God does not say that because you believe in Him, he will keep you from hardship and suffering. He says, if you trust him, he will strengthen you to meet all the experiences of life in a conquering spirit. You will have secret resources of power to call on when they are needed.
Life is full of hard experiences, bitter disappointments, unexpected losses, grim tragedies…
Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans,
but God is not helpless among the ruins.
Our broken lives are not lost or useless.
God’s love is still working.
He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously,
working out His wonderful plan of love.
‘All things work together for good to them that love God.’ He is always master of the situation. There is infinite resourcefulness in the almighty love. Many a man has become great in spite of, as well as because of, disaster. This is the victory of God’s love…”
“Circumstances” writes Eric Liddell: whether they be brought on by natural disasters, the realities of life, humankind’s sinfulness, or our own sinfulness. Whatever those circumstances may be, however they may have entered our lives – many of them “appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans”. But as conclusive as that appearance of wreckage may seem to be, and as utterly ravaged as God’s plans may appear to be – “God is not helpless among the ruins”. Our lives may be broken, but they are not forever lost or forever useless:
- because God always has the final word! always! (“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” – Psalm 115:3)
- because, even amidst the apparent devastation, “God’s love is still working” (“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11)
- because God “is always master of the situation” (“O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!” – 2 Chronicles 20:6)
- because God has the power to turn even broken things into beautiful and useful things (“The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.” – Jeremiah 18:4)
- because “there is infinite resourcefulness in the almighty love” (“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” – Isaiah 59:1)
- because God “comes in and takes the calamity [whatever it might be] and uses it victoriously” (“…for those who love God all things work together for good…” – Romans 8:28)
And so, my dear friend: where are you today? standing bewildered or sitting and weeping amidst the apparent wreckage of your life’s circumstances and of God’s plans for you? your life a seemingly shattered mess at your feet?
Take heart – don’t despair! God, your God, “is not helpless among the ruins”! Your broken life is “not lost or useless” to Him, or to you! “God’s love is still working”, His power is still operating – in your favor and for your good.
Turn to Him – acknowledge your need of Him. Reach out and accept the comfort and peace and strength He longs to give you in your present time of loss and grieving. Repent, if you must, of your past mistakes and wrong decisions made – and accept His forgiveness and the freedom from guilt and shame that He longs to give you. And then, trust and rest in His desire and His ability to turn the calamity of your life into victory.
Do you fear that your particular life circumstance is beyond all hope and power of salvation? Remember and believe this:
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible.
But with God everything is possible.”
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