Thanks to Twitter, we discovered today at 4:15pm that 85 John has lights. We also discovered that Kristen Stewart wore a really short dress – thank you @HuffingtonPost. And that Mark Cuban (@mcuban) needs suggestions on where to give money to support Hurricane survivors. Just guess what I tweeted back…
We have power.
But if this week reminded us of anything it’s this – we always have power.
“Power belongs to God” – Psalm 62:11
I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of God this week.
Because the physical hurricanes of life destroy, but so do the spiritual & emotional ones you’re walking around with. The ones that bring tears to your eyes during prayer. The ones that prompt you to doubt yourself, feel forgotten, feel inadequate, wonder if God’s still good even if He doesn’t feel all that great to us. The ones that make “Things Fall Apart” sound like our life story – not a book title.
So why does a good and powerful God allow these storms?
The simple answer is – we don’t know.
But we do know God.
Tim Keller said something today (at the Redeemer Faith & Work conference) that I know intellectually but struggle to always accept:
“God lets bad things happen to good people because He’s trying to bless them.”
The terms we use like “blessing” or even “good”, might need some re-thinking. What if a blessing is cancer? Getting demoted? Having your home destroyed by a hurricane?
It’s been quite a week for New York. I’ve never engaged in such vulnerable conversations with friends at work (all masks come off when you haven’t showered and run into your Managing Editor wearing pajamas. They were cute pajamas. But still…sorry Robert Thomson), never been the recipient of such love (even the cashier at Duane Reade on 53rd street cracked a smile), never been so well fed (thank you Judith & John!), never enjoyed such spiritually edifying conversations with the sibs & our small group leader over milkshakes (thank you Rev!), never seen my City so unsettled and scared.
But sometimes, that’s right where God wants us to be.
Unsettled & scared.
Because that’s when He can use us. Be strong in our weakness. Show us who’s in charge.
Which brings me to Jacob. This guy is such a trip. Before the guy’s even born he’s fighting with his brother. He steals Esau’s birthright, runs away, works for Rachel but gets Leah, and later on decides to get into a wrestling match with God.
Keller summed up the passage like this: “You never know who you are by being told. You have to be shown. You have to wrestle.”
Jacob had to go through the “malarkey” (thank you Joe Biden) to understand who ultimately rules. Or as Esther explained in our “Glimpse” Friday night – like hydrangea flowers, sometimes you gotta be smashed. Submerged in hot water to be revived. Refined in the fire.
And God’s timing for our wrestling has purpose. Keller noted that if God had shown up 10 years earlier, it might have been a very different story. Jacob had to learn a few things, make some big mistakes…before God could show up and have it out with him WWE style.
We should expect to wrestle with God. We should have smackdown prayer sessions. Wrestle in waiting. Wrestle intellectually. But in the process we must “Praise Jesus for who He is & what He does NOT for who we’d like Him to be or what we think He ought to do” (Joni Eareckson Tada).
This isn’t abstract – you’re probably there right now. Crying out to God. Asking him why He’s doing something? Or not doing something? Why He’s withholding a specific blessing? Why He’s silent? Why you’re experiencing such harsh discipline from His hand?
“What man intended for evil, God intended for good” – Genesis 50:20. Whatever’s happening around you, rest in His goodness. Lean not on your own understanding.
Struggling to persevere in prayer? Claim Psalm 77:14 today, “You are the God who performs miracles.” That miracle may not be a change in your circumstance, it may be a change in your attitude & heart. And often, that is INDEED a miracle.
Most of all, remember to WHOM you belong. Remember that nothing can separate you from His love. Remember that His power, revealed on the cross, has redeemed & restored you.
As I’m writing this I’m feeling a bit of survivor guilt. 1 block away on Gold Street it’s still dark. Friends out in Rockaway still won’t get power for another 2 weeks. People in Staten Island are still freezing cold. Salvation Army officers are still feeding and bringing blankets to Suffolk County today. This is a long haul recovery.
But what we all need right now is not just power, but spiritual power.
And that’s a power ConEd can’t touch.