WHATEVER HAPPENED to the POWER of ALMIGHTY GOD
BY: JAN ANTONSSON
NOVEMBER 17, 2013
“All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matt. 28:18)
I’ll start this little essay by acknowledging that God does not need me to be His cheerleader. He’s more than capable of taking care of His own reputation, but sometimes, I have to stand up and be counted. When I logged onto the Internet Saturday, I was horrified to read the latest reports about Tacloban, Philippines, where the Typhoon Haiyan roared through and left over 3600 dead bodies and horrific devastation in its wake. What got my dander up was a statement from a local priest. His congregants had been asking him how God could let such a calamity befall this predominantly Catholic city. His response was to tell them, “God is not the cause of the suffering. God cannot prevent this. This is the work of nature.” Really? That’s the best he could do?
I’m sure he was traumatized at the situation which he had been thrust into, and perhaps he hadn’t eaten or slept and that was the reason for his reckless reply, but the idea that the creation could say to the Creator, “You’re not my boss. Get lost. I’ll do what I please” (the meaning of what he did say), was enough to make me want to tear out my hair and run screaming into the night. What possible result could come from his answer? The first thing that springs to my mind is the response, “Fine, if God has no more power than that, then why would I ever want to fall down and worship Him?”
If EVER those pathetic victims of Haiyan’s wrath needed to know what Scriptures tell us about the power of God, it’s now. Anything less is pouring salt on their wounds and destroying any hope that might be left in the hearts of these desperate people. They need to know that ALL POWER in heaven and on earth is given to Christ, our Lord (Matt. 28:18). I want them to hear that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5) And it never will!
Desperate people need to know that it is God who “works all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph. 1:11) And how would that help someone who is keeping watch over the rotting bodies of their relatives? It wouldn’t alleviate either the feelings or the stench, but at some point, knowing that it is God, not the devil, or Mother Nature who is in control, is all we may have to hold onto. If that had not been worked into me at a cellular level, I doubt I would have survived Lenny’s passing, because I was thoroughly devastated. Somewhere in that soul’s darkness which threatened to overwhelm me, came the sure knowledge that God would bring good out of this disaster somehow, someway. A few days after he passed, the Lord said softly, “He (Lenny) is of more benefit to you here than he was with you.” I don’t really understand that yet, but it did comfort my aching heart and give me hope that all would be well, eventually.
God did not promise us a rose garden, and Jesus said we would have to take up our cross and follow Him, not a pleasant picture, but through the cactus patches, fiery furnaces, and divine combine experiences, we know that if He brought us to it, He will lead us through it. If, however, we think that those people who died in that typhoon may not have had time to repent of their sins and consequently will be burned in hell fire forever, then we’re down for the count. All hope would be gone and we would wander through the rest of our lives, dragged down by fear, without any joy or comfort possible.
The saddest funeral I ever attended was the death of a close friend. He was the only child, beloved son of his parents who doted on every word and every action he took. He survived being a search and rescue helicopter pilot in Viet Nam, and serving as a policeman in CA, before moving to Arkansas to help care for his elderly parents. A drunk teenager hit his vehicle head on, and he died on that country road before anyone could get to him to help him. At his funeral, his mother was beside herself, wailing “My son is dead. He’s gone. I’ll never see him again.” That tore my heart in two and I wept that she didn’t know the One who said if we die with Him, we’ll be raised with Him in resurrection Life.
Knowing God is the Father of us all, who called us before the foundation of the world and gave us the power to be His children, is how we survive this life, it seems to me. Those poor souls who perished in the Typhoon’s rampage are with Him now, whole and healed and praising God who is all and in all and through all. Fundamentalist religions all tend to make the ultimate outcome about us, what we do or don’t do, but scripture attests that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Our calling has nothing to do with us, what we did or did not do, but only about the will of the Father. We “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13) It is His will which holds us to Him, not our own.
Some in ancient Israel, as well as many today, doubt the power and might of Almighty God. To them, Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear.” (Isa. 59:1)
To those who walk in fear, this powerful prophet’s words ring as true today as when he first uttered them: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isa. 43:1-2) There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING that nature, angry men, thieves, murderers, corrupt politicians, or any other nefarious forces can throw at us that will separate us from the love of God. All things do work together for good for those love the Lord and are called according to His purpose, eventually.
There is nothing that God cannot do, does not see, or cannot control regarding our lives. If we were as Paul assures us, chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world, then there is nothing we have to fear. The Apostle John tells us that fear has to do with punishment, “and he who fears is not perfected in love.” (I Jn. 4:18) My battle with fear has been ongoing for decades. When it leaps out and decks me, I always pray something like, “Father, You have not loved me perfectly in this area. We both know it’s my fault, and we both know I can’t do anything about it. So, I give it to YOU.” He has never failed to help me with whatever fear was threatening to capsize my boat. Just about the time I think I’ve got the upper hand on this ancient enemy, something else comes along to make me fret and worry. Maybe I’m a slow learner, or maybe this is how God grows us, from one problem to another, until (at least, I hope), one day, we’ll find that we’ve conquered whatever it was forever, thanks to His unconditional love, and continuous, progressive and unfailing GRACE!
We’ll close with this thrilling imagery about the power of God: “And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” (Rev. 6:2) The identity of the rider? “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war” (Rev. 19:11); and the glorious summation: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Vs. 11) When I’m down and almost out, I know that Christ the Redeemer is coming to save me (probably from myself), and all will be well, eventually.
Father, we thank You for Your promise that You will never leave nor forsake us, that we can ALWAYS count on You to guide and lead us. Your Light never grows dim. We ask You to use us as a beacon of Your love and mercy, and a bringer of the same glad tidings of great joy to all the people delivered to the shepherds by the angels on the day Your Son was born into the world. In Christ, we ask it, amen.