I have a confession: I think I tend to view God through an American lens.
I am keenly aware that God is in-love with me! That He has the hairs of my head all numbered, and intricately handcrafted me in my mama’s belly! I am overjoyed that He goes with me, throughout my days, and never leaves my side. I know I am the apple of His eye (along with all of His other beloved ones).
Yet, I find myself neck deep in a pandemic, on the cusp of this country possibly capsizing, and facing the tremendous fact that we may not have all the same stuff we’ve thought we were entitled to (at the top of the list, freedom!). And where is my affectionate, head-over-heels God if that happens?
Then I read verses like “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Isaiah 40:15).
But I am not so foolish to walk away from my Beloved, or think Him monstrous, when I read that the nations are like dust to Him. No, this is rather the other side of the coin. The one that takes reverence to embrace. The one that produces reverence when embraced!
You see, my God is still the God who numbers hairs and stoops tenderly, but He is also the God who rules nations with truth and justice. And justice sometimes involves smashing nations. But God is still tenderly near to His afflicted Church. He is still keenly aware of the number of hairs on each of His persecuted ones’ heads. And perhaps there is something about that persecution that draws men nearer, and reminds them of the greatness of God. Because who can endure torture, and even joyfully, but the one who has hope in something far greater than Himself? Yet, Christians, for thousands of years, have been testifying with their joy, of the surpassing worth of Christ, even in the midst of immense tribulation.
“One Chinese church leader, who spent 23 years in prison, once said this to Christians who did not face persecution: ‘I was pushed into a cell, but you have to push yourself into one. You have no time to know God. You need to build yourself a cell, so you can do for yourself what persecution did for me – Simplify your life and know God.’ It is vital that we spend time with God, to grow in Him, so we are prepared to stand strong in the face of persecution.” (opendoors.org – The Theology of Persecution).
We, Americans, tend to view the world through the lens of our own worth. We have so much self-esteem, we may just turn into hot air balloons, soaring off into nowhere. There’s a difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Self-worth acknowledges that God doesn’t make mistakes, He is intentional, He loves and adores us. All of this is true… but it also stops short of the full spectrum of truth that makes it most amazing!
The fuller story is that the God who loves, creates, and delights in us, is the same God who hung stars like ornaments in the nighttime sky, the One who set galaxies in motion and leaves a cap of snow on the jagged mountains which jettison up into the oxygen-rich atmosphere surrounding. He created atmospheric pressure. Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. He invented inertia, and fingernails, vocabulary and mathematics, tree bark, and sunsets, and color. He sifts nations like sand! He is Mighty and Majestic. He is the One who sits enthroned forever and ever, to Whom the angels never get tired of singing of His glory! “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
I am fairly confident, though I’ve never been imprisoned for my faith, that there are two truths that keep Christians from utter despair. One is that God is near, and tender, and deeply loves them. The other is that God is unfathomably great, and His purposes are vastly higher than our understanding! May our minds fill to the brim with wonder over how magnificent, glorious, and enormous He is! He not only invented eternity, He inhabits it! To Him be all glory and honor, forever and ever!
Space 9/8/20 a.d.