Is God in control? Even mature Christians might be tempted to ask this question in the face of unexpected tragedy or suffering. Our minds go blank with shock and our theological underpinnings seem to give way. Is God in control?
If he is not, we are in trouble. It means we are drifting through a universe on a ship without a rudder, to a destination unknown and we are without hope, both now and in the future.
Thankfully, the Bible does not tell us this. It tells us something quite different:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 35-39 (ESV).
We are assured of the love of God, no matter what this world throws at us.
Knowing that the world is dangerous, our human nature will constantly ask if we should live in fear and trepidation. Should we strive to identify enemies everywhere? Should we live behind brick walls, scarcely trusting our friends, let alone our enemies? No. The Bible advises us to do what human nature would never lead us to do:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Romans 12: 9-15 (ESV).
There is joy to be found in the Christian life, not fear. What better time to wonder at this than Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour? "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Yes, now as always is the time to pray, and to enjoy fellowship with the greatest guest we could ever have in our homes: the incarnate Almighty God.
In faith and fellowship,