The gray sky today seems to match the week, or months actually, that we’ve had. My thoughts are in turmoil as I struggle to find God in all of the trials that seem to beset us, our friends, our family. We have wept and prayed with our friends whose children have undergone intensive, life-threatening surgeries (here and here). We have encouraged and pleaded with our friends seeking divorce. We have spent time in the emergency room, anxious over our injured daughter (here). We have lifted our hands to heaven for family members facing cancer. We have experienced our own bouts of sickness with bronchitis, colds, and teething. Money is tight; my kids aren’t taking their naps; I need a nap; and the laundry keeps piling up!
Many people look around at all of the trials in the world – especially children getting hurt, sick, and even dying – and stop believing in a good God or abandon their faith in a Higher Power altogether. After all, if God is so good, wouldn’t He make this life just a little bit easier? Wouldn’t He protect the little ones, the innocent ones, the helpless ones? Where is He?
The prophet Isaiah penned this answer from God, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” (Is. 55:8-9).
Many people still can’t see a gracious God in that answer. Even many Christians struggle with what they consider to be an “unjust” God. Where is His goodness? And if He won’t relieve us from the trials of this life, then why doesn’t He just return for us now to take us to heaven with Him?
I was struck with the same thought from two completely different sources yesterday. The first source was the lecturer at my weekly Bible Study. We were studying Paul’s missionary journey to the Thessalonians, and he discusses Christ’s return in great length in I Thessalonians. The lecturer was discussing the often-debated sentence, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (I Thess. 4:16). She quoted a philosopher friend of hers, who said that we are limiting Christ to the concept of “time.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “time” can mean “finite as contrasted with infinite duration.” I didn’t quite understand everything the speaker was saying, but I think the general idea was that God is not limited by “time.” According to the philosopher, in heaven, everything is happening now. So when we get to heaven, Adam and Eve will just be arriving, too. A little confusing, I think, but the main idea that struck me was that God is not limited by my time.
I was musing over that while checking Facebook yesterday when I came across a link to The Huffington Post about that very topic of time (see “Don’t Carpe Diem” by Glennon Melton). Melton says, “There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in. Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still.”
I know it’s hard to wrap our minds around anything happening outside of time, but perhaps our trials wouldn’t seem so grim if we could, for just one minute, see the God who lives “outside of time.” Imagine a God Who is so much greater, so much more powerful, so unlimitless that He does, indeed, know what is best for us! While we are stuck down here in the trenches able to see only the mounds of dirt in front of us, God is seeing the WHOLE picture of beautiful valleys, flowing streams, snow-capped mountains, and endless fulfilled dreams. Not only does He see the picture, but He’s the One who came up with the picture in the first place!
Paul wanted to help us remember the power of our gracious God – “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:19-20).
We need to stop using our trials as a way of forsaking God and instead use these moments as a way to seek Him. He loves us with an everlasting love that never dies, never diminishes, and never fails.
One of my favorite songs right now is “Blessings,” by Laura Story. Take a few minutes to listen to her words and find joy in your circumstances.