Joy in a Dangerous World

As we approach Christmas day there is much to rejoice in. This has been an interesting and challenging year for the world. There has been a lot of heartache and suffering and the human experience continues to be a challenge for everyone. We should, however, recognize that rebellion and suffering have been a significant part of humanity since the fatal day that man chose to doubt God. What a sad moment it was. We can each confess culpability. Amazingly God had Jesus in mind from the start (Genesis 3:15) and the mysterious but remarkable story of redemption began in what we call time. Isaiah records this amazing event like this.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

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By observing the chaos we see each day it is easy to become discouraged by what we “see” instead of what we know. Adam and Eve foolishly questioned God’s character and care for them. When we do that we begin to feel alone and our brokenness leads us to trust in our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) instead of the flawless and consistent nature of our God and Creator. One of the things I most appreciate about God is his fatherliness. Not all of us had trustworthy fathers (and none of us had perfect fathers), but in the Heavenly Father we have a perfect Father who cares for us and protects us in ways which we are not aware (Matthew 6). This is true even when we get cancer, suffer from abuse and violence, are sinned against, become afraid, or any number of confusing things that happen in the valley of the shadow of death. Our finitude does not allow us to see the whole panorama of God’s plan and quite honestly sometimes that is extremely difficult. But depending upon our own ability and judging God by our particular circumstances will lead to deeper confusion. This is when we must rest in his character and his stellar reputation. We can trust God not because we understand Him, but because He is consistent, peerless, and has shown us consistently his love and pursuit of us. How do we know?

First of all, Scripture tells us not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Why? Because it is flawed. When we depend upon our thinking perspective usually worsens. It leads toward unhealthy introspection and solutions that are best described as shortsighted and self-interested. Note that it doesn’t say to not use your understanding. It says don’t lean on it. That means I have been made in God’s image and am a problem solver by nature. That’s not the dangerous part. Leaning on my problem solving leads to frustration. Instead we are encouraged to trust the Lord with all that we do, say and think. Only God has displayed a protective interest in us. The enemy and the world display destructive and selfish interest in us. They cannot be trusted.

A second way we know that God is a good Father is what he has done as a father. He made provision for our brokenness. He says to the world that because he is holy and perfect we must be holy and perfect. Then he says we cannot do it, but he will do it for us. And he sent his Son. This is what we read in Scripture. This amazing Father loved his Son and then loved us through his Son.

We have much to rejoice in this season because Jesus was born. There is much to anticipate in the future. Paul said that the suffering of this time cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us! Merry Christmas.

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