There are many times in our lives when it is very difficult for us to see God at work. The darkness seems to be creeping in, overtaking the limited light that looks so far away and fading. The evil around us, and the problems it brings, leaves us wondering if God has forgotten us or has taken another sabbatical. Then, again, at other times it is very easy for us to see his handiwork. I was exposed to both experiences over the past week.
First a story of good news. Saturday I was in the checkout line at Costco when I saw a member of our church in another line. I yelled out a “hello” and he then waited for me until we both had paid our bills. He had a God @ Work story he wanted to tell at worship, but there were two problems. 1) if he did not tell it this Sunday, it’s timeliness would be lost, and 2) his family dinner plans seemed to be making it impossible for him to get prepared that night. I did not bother telling him that I already had another speaker lined up – instead I started working on a plan to include them both at different times.
That evening I received two texts. I’m not sure which one came first. One was from my “Costco friend” stating that their dinner plans had fallen through. The other was from the assigned speaker who told me that he would not be able to be in church on Sunday! Sunday morning, I discovered I still needed my two-speaker plan, because a third speaker that I had forgotten about had also been planned. Then, as the worship service unfolded, both presentations fit perfectly together with the music and the sermon of the day … and, since I was not the preacher (nor had I seen the second presentation), I had no clue how God was working them all together into his plan.
Like I said, sometimes it’s easy … especially when we are looking back at what God has done.
And then there are those other times … When Monica checked into the hospital a week ago Wednesday for her “minor heart problems” we thought she might be released on Friday. On Friday we were told Saturday … on Saturday, Sunday … and on Sunday we were told it looked like it would be an extended stay. She was then released first thing Monday morning! Nothing has changed since before she was admitted, except that 1) we know that one medication is more harmful than helpful, 2) while there is no “imminent danger” the situation feels like a “ticking time bomb”, and 3) we have now heard more contradictory stories than our minds can fathom!
Like I said, sometimes it’s not so easy.
Somehow, however, the bottom line this week remains that same as it was one week prior! Through it all God IS at work, turning our attention away from the problems to focus upon his promises (this is called repentance), reminding us that no matter how many times we ask: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” He continually is empowering us to respond, ”No. In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8.35-39) You see, it’s always easy for God … even when it’s not so easy for us!