What do you trust? Who do you trust?
This is the overarching theme of the Bible. Where do we put our trust?
Biblically, it is called “self-righteousness” to seek outside sources for solutions to your internal problems. A fallen world innately pursues self-seeking solutions, and it is only through surrender of pride of self and complete submission to the precepts of God that we have any victories over our weaknesses. We are to seek God through confession, and surrender to Him in repentance to obtain victory. This is what pleases God the most: our full trust in Him.
Humanity has developed ten areas of self-righteousness:
The order of importance is different for each of us. Some rely heavily on government for their security, others rely on their vices, others their 401K. The western world is highly reliant on insurance, whereas the concept of insurance is barely a thing in other parts of the world such as Africa. We find our security in many things. Personally, I sought money, prestige, and affection for my security, and I was deep into my selfish pursuit of relief.
I was going to church, highly involved with many committees, volunteering, mission trips, service projects, choir, children’s teacher, usher and so much more. I know I loved God and Jesus, but I was also deep into my sin: chasing money, a very long addiction to porn, high credit card debt. I decided to transition to self-employment in order to be my own boss. I was completely focused on my ability to provide myself security and acceptance. I had made myself my god and I knew everything. After several years of trusting and relying upon myself came divorce, bankruptcy and joblessness. It broke me. I learned in the hardest way possible to fully trust in God. After having literally every aspect of my life altered, an accident with a truly miraculous outcome involving my 22-month-old son convinced me that God is in full control of even the millimeters of life.
Here we are in April 2020 with a virus wreaking havoc around the globe. The virus is on every continent. Almost every nation is in lockdown. We are tracking worldwide deaths, and I reflect on numerous biblical accounts: the flood, the plagues, Job, and the bowls in Revelation. Each has a common purpose: do you Trust in God?
Noah built a boat and got in it to live. The world laughed at Noah, but being in the boat saved his life and the life of his family: trusting in God saves lives. There were those who believed and those who did not believe. The Israelites applied the blood of a lamb over their door post and believed that God would pass over their home. There were those who believed and those who did not believe: trusting in God saves lives. The story of Job is entirely about how easy it is to believe during times of plenty and abundance, but what happens when the heat is turned up? Will you believe during times of distress? It is a story about staying firm in belief. Lastly, I come to the bowls in Revelation 16.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20
“AND I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth,” Revelation 16:1.
Revelation is all about the final wrath of God which has several underlying realities. First, Revelation is not His initial act of wrath; there were several others preceding it. Second, we should not be surprised when wraths come, we have the written word telling us to be prepared for these times of persecution. Third, this is what God does to prove He exists; these events leave us feeling completely out of control and that helps bring His children back to Him. When science is slow and cumbersome at providing a vaccine, quarantine policy demands isolation, stimulus relief checks get entangled in politics and food runs low in the pantry; it opens the path to seeking God for provision.
We are given small glimpses of God’s purpose in the verses: “…and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent, so as to give Him glory,” verse 9. And in verse 11, “and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of the pains and their sores; and they did not repent of the deeds.”
God wants us to give Him the Glory for being the source of overcoming the desires of our flesh. It is that simple: we accept that we are helpless and we confess our need for God’s transforming power, and we repent by trusting in Christ for the transformation. We deny God the glory of being our source when we pursue money for our security, sex for our affection, materialism for our approval, prestige for our respect. We naturally seek earthly solutions for spiritual problems instead of turning to God.
So here we are wanting testing, a vaccine, government imposed quarantine, shelter in place orders, social distancing, essential vs non-essential employment, relief checks, and even toilet paper as our security. We put so much trust into our institutions, but a teeny tiny virus can bring every institution to complete irrelevance. Money does not have an answer, the stock market is no help, politicians have no answers, government and its policies have no answers. The vaccine will be a year away. Churches are shut down, schools are shut down, commerce is divided between essential and non-essential services. We have no answers. Our human desire to “fix” things is placing all hope on testing and the quarantine. When will we learn?
In a time of great fear and anxiety, I cannot count the number of times I have heard the word “uncertainty”, but I have great peace in my trust. Neighbors, friends, family are worried about the things they cannot control. There is great fear about getting the virus, great fear about death from the virus, great fear about loss of income from the shutdown, the uncertainties can be overwhelming. We try to put our fears to peace by loading up on food, applying for unemployment, watching the news for updates on testing and the fatality rate. This fear is real. It is consuming, and it is insatiable.
The solution for the fears, is trusting in God. Daniel WAS put into the lion’s den, (we might get the virus), but Daniel came out the next day unharmed. The tenth plague came, He did not hold back, but trusting in Him is what got the Israelites through. Job endured the loss of his children, loss of his income, loss of his health, but Job did not waiver in his trust of God (minus a little complaining to God, which is a topic for another post). We know that this is God holding back. We know from scripture that the restrainer is still with us. We know it will get worse. The seals, the trumpets and the bowls are yet to come. All are for His predetermined purpose of purging self-righteousness and turning people towards Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”