Peace in God’s Power

By Erin Bird

Well, here we are – the end of April. The grass is greening, the trees are budding, and Iowans are emerging (at least in 77 counties).

And yet, we are far from out of this pandemic. Despite Governor Reynold’s reassurances during her press conferences, I have seen online many Iowans fearing the worst is still yet to come. While many Americans are loudly demanding a return to “normal” life, an equally loud contingent are demanding continued restrictions.

Along with this argument, I’ve been hearing arguments about government overreach, reading articles about the top 1% of Americans getting richer through this pandemic, and learning about the plight of African American communities through this pandemic.

I couldn’t help but notice that many of these conversations seem to center around a key topic: power.

  • What power should the government have?
  • Do the richest of our society have too much power?
  • Do the poor and colored of the culture have too little power?

What I want to do today is show you through our current series in Job 38 that God is the ultimate power. And while the type of power He possesses should induce within us fear, I hope to show you that it should actually induce peace.

To begin to see this, take a moment to read Job 38:8-11

8 Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed? 
(Job 38:8-11 ESV)

Power in the Storm

ocean wave under dark cloudsThe 2012 film The Impossible is the true story of a family vacationing in Thailand in 2004 during the Christmas holidays when one of the worst tsunamis in history crashed inland, laying in its wake death and destruction. The movie shows the power of ocean water that has been moved and displaced by an earthquake.

And yet God, in Job 38, says He has even greater power than the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. God is the one who put the land in place, so the power of the oceans doesn’t overtake the entire world. He is the one who set into motion the cycle of rain and evaporation. And even the worst wave can’t travel forever.

So Job 38 gives us a glimpse of the power of God.

But, what about…

Now, I realize this brings up an ethical issue. If God has this kind of power, why didn’t he stop the tsunami of 2004? Or the flood that affected Waverly in 2008? Or the tornado that wiped out half of Parkersburg in 2008? Is He incapable, or doesn’t care, or operates randomly?

To be able to fully answer that, one has to be on the same level as God. But since God’s ways are higher than our ways, we can’t give a fully satisfactory answer. Yes, God is completely capable of stopping a tsunami (the resurrection of Jesus displays that). And yes, God deeply cares for humans (the cross of Jesus displays that). And while we may not know how many tsunamis He has stopped throughout history, or how many tornadoes He has swallowed up, we may never know why He still allows certain geological tragedies to happen. Only He fully knows why He allows some things to happen and why He stops others. What we do know is that creation groans under the weight of sin, and God will one day put a stop to the suffering. So we can still trust Him in the midst of the storm.

Which brings us to our current crisis. Does God have the power to stop the coronovirus? Without a doubt, yes. But could He also be accomplishing something we can’t see at this moment due to our time-bound perspective? Without a doubt, yes.

So know that God is all-powerful: powerful enough to “shut the seas with doors” and powerful enough to stop COVID-19 from spreading to even one more person. Yet He is also powerful enough to calm your heart, give you strength through these days, and perfectly oversee the course of history through the worst of times.

And that is why we can find peace in God’s power.

Peace in God’s Eternalness

By Erin Bird

How are you doing? Hanging in there? I am discovering many people are at a similar stage in this pandemic – tired, stressed, and worn out. Some are tired of the boredom. Some are stressed because of the increased work this pandemic has brought. Some are frustrated due to lack of human connection, while some are pulling out their hair from TOO much human contact (primarily little kids clinging to mom!).

I think our new series comes at a perfect time. I want to look at Job 38 with you for a few weeks, because inside of this chapter lie several clues into God’s character that I believe can help you gain some peace and joy in these days.

Quick Review

Last week, I gave an extremely quick overview of the book of Job. If you missed it or need a reminder, head here. (If you’d like to have an even greater understanding of the book of Job, watch this video and/or this video if you didn’t last week.) In my microwaved review of Job, I pointed out that Job 38 is a strange chapter where God basically flexes in front of Job and his “friends.” Some people read Job 38 and don’t find comfort in God’s presence, but rather fear.

However, I want to break down this chapter and help you see that a “fear” of God can actually bring you peace. To help you see it, let’s begin by looking at verses 4-7:

4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7 ESV)

Grandpa God

There is a famous quote (falsely attributed to Mark Twain) that makes me smile:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

The author humorously points out how time contributes to our understanding of the world. The father in the author’s quote wasn’t ignorant, it was the 14-year-old version of the author that was. But as he aged, he started realizing how wise his father actually was, because his father had so much more life experience than he.

stars in space with a bluish purple glowThat’s what makes Grandpas and mentors so beloved. They share out of the wisdom they have compiled from their years of life, and it brings understanding and peace to the younger person.

In Job 38:4-7, God shows Job just how “old” he really is. The Heavenly Father says He was there when He “laid the foundation of the earth,” when he “laid its cornerstone,” and heard the “morning stars” sing their songs for the first time ever. And not only was God there before the beginning, He will also be ruling and reigning when time reaches its end.

This means God is eternal. But unlike our dads, grandpas, and mentors, God hasn’t grown in wisdom; He possessed all wisdom at the very beginning. And if you are impressed with your grandpa’s insights, how much more impressed should you be with an eternal God?

Short-term vs Long-Term

You and I so often are focused on the here and now. Our eyes are filled with the problems immediately in front of us, which is why the past month has felt like a decade. Our emotions are flailing in the waters of our minds, barely keeping afloat. So with our attention on the problems of today, we find ourselves frustrated, sad, and lacking peace.

Instead, I want to encourage you to lift your eyes up on to the eternal God. He was there when the stars sang their first song. He was there when the earth’s foundation was set. He was there when Adam and Eve broke the only commandment given them. He was there when the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. He was there through the black plague and the flu of 1917-18. And He is here in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

And guess what? He will still be God when this has passed (whenever that will be).

Because He is eternal, rest in Him. He’s got you. He’s not surprised by this pandemic. And He already sees what is on the other side of it.

So put your trust in Him. Express that trust in prayer. And every time your heart wants to run to worry, stress, frustration, and the such, cry out to the eternal God:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

Eating with the Enemy

Eating with the Enemy

By Erin Bird

Let’s jump right in as we continue in our series on Psalm 23. We have made it to verse 5, which says:

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Let’s look at the first phrase this week: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Fast-less Food
On the day I write this, I had soup and grilled cheese for lunch. Combining the two-and-a-half minutes it took to microwave the soup and the three minutes it took to butter some bread and cut six slices of pepper jack cheese, I was sitting down to eat in roughly 5 minutes. Had I chosen to swing through the Burger King drive-thru or simply rip open a protein bar package, I would have had my food even faster.

However, if I had tried to enjoy the same meal in King David’s day, the soup might have taken 30-60 minutes to prepare (or maybe even longer). I wouldn’t have been able to pull two slices of bread out of a plastic bag, I would have had to make the bread at another time, then slice it myself. I would have had to make my own cheese or barter with someone who could have made it for me. And of course, I would have had to start a fire so I could make the soup and “grill” my sandwich. Just to make myself a simple lunch would have probably taken a good portion of my morning.

So when David said that God prepared a table before him, it wasn’t a quick event; it meant David sat and lounged, waiting while the food was being prepared and brought out to the table.

Not Comfort Food
wolf packWhile reclining at a table while God prepares a meal sounds very relaxing, remember David says God does this kind act “in the presence of my enemies.” I don’t know about you, but it’s a bit uncomfortable to be around people who don’t like you. Can you imagine sitting at a table where your fellow occupants wish harm upon you? Yet David seems calm. How can he be at such peace with evildoers glaring at him with malicious intent?

It’s all based on where he is looking.

  • If David put his eyes on his enemies, he would probably quake in fear.

  • If he put his hope in the food that was to come, he would be temporarily distracted from his enemies, but be reminded of their presence as soon as the food is gone.

  • The only way David can experience peace in the presence of his enemies while patiently waiting for the food is to keep his eyes on the one preparing everything. David just reminded himself in verse 4 that God was with him, and that hadn’t changed even while sitting at a table where enemies gave him death stares.

I don’t know what “enemies” you are facing right now, but I want you to know that God is with you. If all you do is stare at your problems, you’ll continue to have anxiety. If you look for comfort in some sort of “food,” (entertainment, substances, etc.), the “enemy” will still be sitting there waiting for the moment to pounce. The only way to find “a peace that surpasses understanding” while eating with the enemy is to keep your eyes on God. It may seem like He’s taking a long time to provide the “meal,” but be patient and be calm. Your God is with you.

Comfort Through the Cross
Don’t forget: Your ultimate enemy is sin. Yet sin was defeated through the cross and empty tomb. But that’s not all. Jesus then said right before His ascension that He would be with you even to the end of the age. So take Him at His word. Trust the One who has defeated the worst enemy of all, so you can find peace in his presence, even when you find yourself dining with the devil.

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