It is a fact. When I get angry, it doesn’t mean that I am necessarily right. If I blow up at someone, it doesn’t make them wrong.
God, however, cuts across my human anger. He asks, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” (Romans 14:4) It is a fact. My human anger will never accomplish God’s heart. It entraps, instead.
God wants us to remember that there can be a tyranny about anger. He wants us to understand how arbitrary our standards can be. And he gives us his point of view – everyone is responsible to God, not us. HE is good at his job.
Years ago we stayed in a log cabin up in the Yorkshire hills. During the night I freaked out with anxiety. I paced the floor and then a verse came to mind: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) So I unloaded my truckload of worries onto God. It took a couple of hours.
Today, the turmoils around us are invading my heart as well. I didn’t know where to put them. But today another Bible verse caught my eye: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19) I unloaded my troubles and God reminded me, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”*
A “new normal” is coming and I feel lost. It’s darkness and confusion, like Genesis 1 all over again. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface.” But there was God!
He spoke the first ever recorded words in that darkness: “Let there be light.” Light! And it has NEVER changed since then.
Another unchangeable is Jesus, the true “light of the world.” (John 8:12) And in these uncertain times, it is so easy for me to forget that as I follow him, I will “never walk in darkness.” NEVER. Because he is unchanging.
The “new normal” is coming, and I feel so wobbly. But one thing is already in place – Jesus – that constant and unwavering Light. No need to fear.
In this 100th blog, I wondered what the Bible had to say about ‘100’.
Nothing glamourous, as I had hoped. The first one embodied a cynical old man! “Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?'” (Genesis 17:17) I wondered… am I still on the ground laughing at God’s promises? Do I still doubt him when he says he will save?
Then a surprise. The last ‘100’ at the end of the Bible was about Abraham as well! “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old.” (Romans 4:19) Yes, each of us can flounder in impossible situations. So often I do. But it is God who laughs at those impossibilities and difficulties.* He tells us, “I’ve got it. Don’t fear.”
Someone asked me, “How do you cope with your emotions when someone has been unkind to you?”
“I have a melt-down,” I said, “and then another one. But afterwards, I try to look to God. It’s hard, though, because all my attention is drawn towards that person, reliving the hurt and wanting justice. But as I read my Bible and pray, I find the strength to look away. I can forgive.”
“I suppose forgiveness lasts forever.”
“Not for me,” I said. “Something will happen and it triggers a memory. I’ll have another melt-down, because, an injustice is always unjust. But I can find God again. I can forgive again, and I can move on.”
Emotions overcome many things, sometimes even the facts. A fact about ourselves is that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.” Yet, we might say, “Dream on. I just took a look in the mirror and, well … Let’s not go there.”
But, if we look deeper, we could see down into our hearts. Sure we might want to hide things, but God has put something profoundly beautiful inside us. “He has also set eternity in the human heart.”
Eternity. A longing for something that lasts. A longing for a relationship that never ends. A dream of never being forgotten, of being remembered and loved. And this is God’s dream for us – him forever relating with our beautiful hearts. Now this is a fact.
Sometimes I forget that I am loved, that God’s strong arms are around me. Jesus told of a runaway: “His father saw him and… ran to his son, threw his arms around him…” (Luke 15:20) That father had waited in agony. He had wept bucket-loads of tears. He had questioned himself, but he didn’t hold it against his son. He hugged him.
God is like that, for “the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’” (Deuteronomy 33:27) He knows us. He understands us. He embraces us in our hopes, dreams, in our confusion and grief.
His arms are safe. We can rest. His arms are tender. We can trust.
The waves crashed. Winds howled. The ship was breaking apart. But some sailors in the Bible frapped their ship. “They passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together…” (Acts 27:17)
All of us have been hit by an almighty storm, and our lives are breaking apart. But God wants us to know that he is frapping our hearts. He is holding us together in his strong, encircling arms.
This doesn’t mean that the storm will pass us by, but our hearts can be calm. For Paul on that ship, God told him, “Do not be afraid.” (Acts 27:24) And God keeps telling us, “Do not fear!”
His encircling ropes appear in many ways, and often it comes through us. I’ve seen a lot of frapping happening right now, us helping others before they fall apart. No matter the storm, we can show God’s heart.