As the world around us convulses as a result of the new coronavirus and the crashing world economic markets, it can be easy for us to tremble and fret over how we will cope with these current disasters. Even if you are not personally affected at the present, it is no assurance that you will not be.
These things and so many others can leave us shaking our heads if we have tried to steward our health and wealth. But you see these things are not at all new.
As I was reading in Judges today about Gideon I paused when I came to a verse that echoed what so many are wondering in these current days:
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Judges 6:13 (NIV)
And that is just one example of many we find in the Bible if we look back through biblical history. Some of you are knowledgable to be able to identify more than a few others.
Moving up the history timeline to a time not so long ago I think of the times and seasons my parents lived in and through. It can be easy to forget the challenges the generations just before us experienced.
My parents were children when the Spanish flu ravaged the world and in 1918 in the United States alone 675,000 people died. Some of these were family members I never knew. It was happening during the same period the impact of WW I was being felt across the globe, but it didn’t stop there. From 1921-1925 a diphtheria epidemic raged and at its peak 15,520 died in one year. Then polio destroyed the lives of many and crippled others between 1916 and 1955 and a measles outbreak between 1981 and 1991 killed up to 10,000.
During those years just mentioned people were living and dying through WW II and the conflict in Korea and others lost all hope when most of the money and businesses were lost when the crash of the stock market happened in 1929 and the long years of the Great Depression followed.
We can watch movies and documentaries galore about these things and if we are blessed, we might also have some first-hand stories we recall of rationing, losses, and scarcity of things we easily take for granted.
These more modern examples do not show up in the heroes of the faith we read about in Hebrews 11, but perhaps some of them should. Maybe we should also take heart for what those hard times wrought in them. Many without fame or fortune rebuilt agriculture and rebuilt cities and countries and discovered vaccines and cures for so many things most of the world do not need to worry about. They also dreamed of a “better” for those like us who would come after them and sacrificed to make education and opportunity plentiful so we might not struggle in ways so many of them did.
We have such a narrow view. I love how Debbie Wilson describes this in her new book, Little Faith, Big God:
“We view life like someone standing on a sidewalk watching a parade pass by. We see only what passes in front of us. God sees the story of humankind as one looking down on the parade from a blimp. He sees the beginning, middle, and end all at the same time. His ways are better than ours. He has information that we lack. It makes good sense to trust him. Although faith relates to the unseen, it isn’t blind.”
I benefitted from the generation who lived through some of those hard times. They taught me to steward my money and possessions and never to presume they could not be lost. They also taught me to value life and liberty and the sacrifices often needed to preserve it. Education was something I learned early on was not something to be lazy about because learning from all that came before prepared me for what was ahead and inspired possibilities for what my generation could discover or accomplish to make the world better.
From them I learned that my hope could not be in the stock market or any other financial entity, nor could it be in any politician of any ilk.
I learned that “entertainment” could be as faith-building as a “hymn sing” at our local church on an evening where anyone could shout out a favorite hymn of theirs and we would all join in singing.
“Our hope rests in a loving God. Even though we can’t see his invisible hand or understand his plan, like the wind, his goodness is evident to those with the eyes of faith.
When stormy emotions cloud your spiritual vision, focus on your Pilot. Then choose to trust him with your groundings.” Debbie Wilson