What I know for sure!

In 2015 GC session which took place in San Antonio, there was a funny but poignant moment brought about by the Executive Secretary of the organization GT Ng. He stood up to give his fabulous report about the growth of the church worldwide and then he posed what seemed to be a rhetorical question to the more than 2500 delegates gathering in that meeting. “Do you know the daily percentage with which the SDA church is growing around the world?” he asked. Of course, the delegates quickly responded “NO” but with a sense of thorough expectation. “I also don’t know”, he retorted. I also have been asked questions related to theodicy (the justice of God in the face of human suffering). At first I used to go through all sorts of Theological obfuscations to defend God (as if He needed some protection from me) only to find myself in more philosophical quagmire than when I started the conversation. But I have since learned to say “I also don’t know). But what I know for sure, I will tell you.

  1. What I know for sure is that God is not changed by circumstances, He changes circumstances. You may as well ask “where was God when it happened?” The Bible will only say “the Lord is in His Holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him”. Habakkuk 2:20. That verse is a purposeful contrast with the preceding verses. In contrast with the lifeless gods of wood and stone, the living God reigns from His temple in heaven, and you and me are instructed to put our hands on our mouths, and simply assume a worshipful stance before an Awesome God. We may not always understand His purpose (and He is under no obligation to reveal them to us) but I know He knows what He is about and that should settle it.
  2. What I know for sure is that when it is dark and silent, it does not mean the absence of communication from God. He is there all the time. His Awesome divine silence must be matched by our stubborn faith to put our hands in His hands and wait. That is better than a bright light and a known way. Wait on the Lord for: “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.
  3. I know that it was meant for evil by the enemy of our souls, but God turned it for good. For instance, there are valuable lessons we have learned from this terrible situation (Covid-19). We now understand that one should not postpone until tomorrow what you can do today, for tomorrow may never come. If you love somebody, give it expression today (pick up the phone and call them) for tomorrow you may not be there. We are more conscious about the fleeting and finicky nature of life than ever before. But above all, we now know that God does not waste pain. He captures our tears and uses them for His benefits.The poem quoted in Oswald J. Sander’s (not to be confused with Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)) Spiritual Leadership (1967) who credits it to an “Author Unknown”, captures the dynamics of human existence and pain. The poem as he quotes it is as follows:
    When God wants to drill a man
    And thrill a man
    And skill a man,
    When God wants to mould a man
    To play the noblest part;
    When He yearns with all His heart
    To create so great and bold a man
    That all the world shall be amazed,
    Watch His methods, watch His ways!
    How He ruthlessly perfects
    Whom He royally elects!
    How He hammers him and hurts him,
    And with mighty blows converts him
    Into trial shapes of clay which
    Only God understands;
    While his tortured heart is crying
    And he lifts beseeching hands!
    How He bends but never breaks
    When his good He undertakes;
    How He uses whom He chooses
    And with every purpose fuses him;
    By every act induces him
    To try His splendour out–
    God knows what He’s about!
    (Author Unknown)
  4. Lastly, I know that in order to make it through our challenges, we have to become prisoners of hope. This hope that burns within us that Jesus is coming again. This hope does not disappoint. Rom 5:3-5 and John the Revelator puts it more beautifully:Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
    Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
    Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
    Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Pr. R.P. Maligudu