Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
October 26, 2014
Never in a hurry but always on time
When my wife says, “Let’s watch the news,” I cringe but turn to one of the news channels. We listen to the bombardment of news about Ebola, wars, crime, suffering, murder and domestic violence. After about five minutes I ask quietly, “Had enough?” And she says, “Oh yes!”
Constant awareness of the plight of humanity is burdensome. Even the most positive people are likely to worry about the future. And we all know that worry only adds to our problems. Still we groan and moan.
The more we lament the terrible condition of the world, the more likely someone will observe with a sigh, “Surely God will not tolerate our sinfulness much longer; America has become Sodom and Gomorrah!”
The sordid mess we are in does prompt serious questions. Why doesn’t God do something? If God is present, why is he silent? What should Christians do while waiting for God’s judgment to fall upon America?
Our grieving is not new. The Old Testament prophets did their share of bewailing humanity’s sins. In fact we can find helpful answers to some of our questions by reading the Book of Lamentations written by Jeremiah “the weeping prophet.”
Jeremiah’s brief book is more than a list of complaints. It is a book of hope, faith and love expressed in beautiful poetry. The prophet reminds us that God is in charge and that he is a God of compassion. He encourages us to keep the faith, refuse to fear and have confidence that in time God will act. He is not absent and he is not indifferent. Despite the way things may look to us, God is at work.
It was God, for example, who allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and take the Judahites into captivity. Their suffering was God’s punishment for their sins. Second Kings 24 makes this very clear. Zedekiah the King “did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done.” The next verse (20) explains the captivity: “It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.”
The tragic end of King Zedekiah is sad: “He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:6-7).
What can we do when it seems that God is not acting? We can continue to do what Christ advocated. We can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for orphans and widows, visit the imprisoned and pray for the deliverance of people who are enslaved to sin.
We can rejoice that the “Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.” We can give thanks for the character of our God who “although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” What a beautiful truth: God does not willingly afflict or grieve us!
We can remain faithful to God. We can remain confident that God knows what he is doing. He is not accountable to us. We are accountable to him. We can wait quietly for his will to be done, trusting Christ and Christ alone for our salvation.
Years ago I heard a devout Christian woman from Korea whose name was Induk Pak. I bought a book she had written. In the flyleaf she wrote these memorable words, “God is never in a hurry but he is always on time.” How true!
Our business is not to speculate about what God should do but to focus on living as much like Jesus as possible. When our energy is devoted to doing that, we will have little time left to ponder the perils of the future and worry about what may happen. This is, after all, God’s world and he is still on the throne.
In the meantime we can be about the Father’s business – using our gifts and resources to help hurting people and pointing them to the source of our hope – our Lord Jesus Christ. + + +