Do you ever look around and feel like there is just no hope? Today was one of those days for me. I wasn't feeling hopeless for myself, but for those around me who don't know Jesus or who seem to have fallen away from Him. We are surrounded by heartache, disease, sexual perversion, and struggles of many kinds each and every day and they seem to be more numerous as the hours go by. The world is literally "going to hell in a handbasket" and nobody seems to take notice, let alone care.
I think the thing today that has really struck a chord in me is the rampant sin that goes on in people's lives. It is certain to bring about eternal destruction and we, as Christians, are forced to stand by and watch for fear of being labeled hate mongers, hypocrites, or bigots. Our pastor made a comment today that Christians get lulled into becoming "Politically Correct" rather than promoting a lifestyle that is "Biblically Correct." I have come to the conclusion that the world just doesn't want to hear it anymore. So how do we find hope in this world when those we love are giving into sin and following the lusts of their heart rather than the ways of God?
Rom 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (nasb)
For me to find hope, I first need to trust that God is doing a work in the lives of those around me that I love and care about. Rom 1:24 says that God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts... God is not only sovereign over the good things that occur in our life, but he is sovereign over our sin as well. God gives Satan a leash on each and every one of us and how long that leash is will be determined by God. When our loved one is tempted to live a life of homosexuality, God has allowed it. When one of our children or friends gives into the temptation of drugs and alcohol I need to remember that God is working in that situation as well. Even when a friend or family member is caught in the sin of adultery God isn't taken by surprise.
Somethings in life seem to be a mystery to me. The why question comes up often and many times it goes unanswered. Why does the Lord allow me to struggle with sin? Why does God allow Satan the freedom to cause so much chaos in people's lives. Why do those I care about that claim to know Jesus keep going back to their addictions and lies? Sometimes it is just a series of why, why, why... Well, God doesn't promise in His Word to answer the why question for me, therefore I am forced to look at what He does say. In regards to the sin I see in my life and the lives of the people I love, I look at this verse in Isaiah. I am able to see a God who is filled with compassion and love and will restore those who turn back to Him.
The answer to this question will probably be a mystery to me for a very long time. I may never fully understand why people won't turn from their sin and follow Christ. Remembering what the rest of this passage in Isaiah says helps me to understand the mind of God a little bit better.
Isa 55:9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. (nasb)
God's ways of working in the lives of human beings are not the way you or I might deal with them. His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. I can't see the big picture the way He can, so when someone close to me is living in sin, God may be doing a thousand things in their life that I may never see. When we look at the life of King David and his adulterous relationship, we see God's hand of restoration working from the beginning.
The story of Jonah is another good example of the hand of God being sovereign over man's sin and working out all the details ahead of time. Jonah disobeyed God and decided to try to flee from Him and do his own thing. However, God had a plan to save a group of people and he intended for Jonah to fulfill that plan. In spite of Jonah's sin against God, God was planning and preparing before Jonah even knew what had hit him. God had prepared a boat ready to sail, a storm ready to blow over the sea, and a big fish in place to swallow up Jonah when he was thrown overboard. And when Jonah finally repented and came back to God he turned the entire nation of Nineveh to the Lord.
God's ways are not our ways and there is hope to be found in understanding that He is sovereign over the sins of me and those I care for. He is sovereign over the sins of this nation and the people who live in it. God isn't taken by surprise when a large group of people march through the city streets celebrating gay pride, so neither should I. He doesn't say "oops, there goes another one" when a loved one turns away from Him and lives a lifestyle that is contrary to His ways. God knows it and allows it because He is doing something that we may never understand. The hope for me comes from the promise that He makes to you and me in verses like Romans 10:13.
Rom 10:13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." (nasb)
Thank you Lord for renewing my strength today when everything around me seems so hopeless. You are the door of hope this dying world needs. I pray that we, as Christians, can be bold in our faith, courageous in our walk, and proclaim you to those around us. Praise be to You! Amen