If you’ve had your head in the latest news headlines as of late you might notice that there has been no shortage of chaos or trouble of one kind or another. There has been earthquakes, floods, massive oil spills and other ecological devastations, volcanoes erupting, deep economic recession, terror threats, national and global market volatility, civil discord at home and riots on the international scene, rumors of war, and a host of more persistent societal ailments that have been with us for generations. On top of all this our website went down over the weekend without notice and I started getting a soar throat!
I’ve been told I’m a pessimist. I don’t see the glass half full- I see it empty, shattered in pieces on the table. I prefer to think of myself as a ‘prophetic realist’ – “…the glass really is shattered on the table, don’t you see it?!- What are we going to do about it!?”. GOD has given me, like some of you perhaps, the tendency to see that which needs to be mended in the world. Our challenge then of course is to not dwell on the wounds but to call them out (honesty and truth come first) and then seek the Great Mender, the Redeemer for the remedy. But what happens when it seems like it all needs mending and GOD isn’t giving clear instructions to us on how to act towards healing and redemption?
Also, beyond all that is happening in the world, we ourselves are caught in currents of trouble. Our health fails, our jobs end, our friendships become strained or broken, our families fall into dysfunction, our communities are plagued with strife and disunity. Every element of our personal lives is often beset with trials for which we are not prepared. Job said it best:
‘For man is born for trouble, As sparks fly upward.” [Job 5:7]
JESUS understood this it seems and told his disciples before His death and resurrection:
“In this world you will have trouble but take courage; I have overcome the world!” [John 16:33]
In the midst of my melancholy at times I get to a place of paralysis. I don’t know how to be an agent of this ‘overcoming’ that JESUS speaks of. I dwell in the first part of His statement ‘…in this world you will have trouble…’ and then forget the rest. But this is not something we are called to accomplish. Yes we are called to overcome in our own choices to remain faithful to following Him- but even this begins in the place when we realize that all that we do springs forth from what He has already accomplished.
He has overcome. He has overcome the world. In times of volatility and uncertainty we must rediscover the reality of His stability and His preparing for us a table of feasting in the midst of our trials and ‘enemies’. We must learn to dwell in His overcoming. We only overcome in Him.
For me this feasting takes on a particular image. I see JESUS sitting at a table with a new glass sitting upright on the table, with it’s contents joyfully spilling and overflowing all over the table.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.” [Psalm 23:5]
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [John 10:10]
Through fire, O Refiner
I walk with You
Through trials, O Redeemer
I am joined to You
In weakness, O Faithful One
I am yoked to You.
Be strength, be life, be light for me.
(video: from the band Waterdeep: ’18 Bullet Holes’.)