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Long-View Living in a Short-View World

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Science has seen a recent surge in popularity, primarily as a political football that is being kicked back and forth between Worldview X and Worldview Y. The term "science" is applied to debate subjects that have nothing to do with science, because injecting the term "science" to the discussion is believed to add credibility to one view or the other, and the "unscientific" viewpoint is subsequently ridiculed as foolish. To the unlearned, this may be effective, but to those who truly understand science, and the scientific method, we are not fooled.

True science is a systematic practice of gaining knowledge of the tangible through observation and experimentation. True science involves testable, falsifiable hypotheses. When a proposed hypothesis is disproved, it is either modified or discarded. When we reach the point that a hypothesis cannot be falsified, we likely have a truth under experimentation. Thus, true science has nothing to do with opinion or consensus, and everything to do with knowledge gained through non-disprovable hypotheses. Thus it is a fallacy to declare a truth based on "Eight out of ten scientists believe..."

By its very nature, science will be unable to give us all answers. There are some realities that are simply beyond the reach of scientific discovery. For example, science will never be able to tell us what is moral or immoral. Science will never be able to attribute ethical value to an action. Science cannot determine beauty or ugliness, because it cannot measure aesthetic quality. Science cannot answer any questions dealing with the supernatural. Science can tell us what, how, where, when, but can never tell us why. The why questions belong to God.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' - Romans 9:20, ESV

Questioning God

Questions like the one above are perplexing for the Christ-follower. Other difficult "Why" questions include:

  • Why do the righteous suffer?
  • Why do the evil prosper?
  • Why is there even evil in the world?
  • Why did this bad thing happen to me?

Just last week, while hiking Mount Baker, my wife and I were pondering why God created mosquitos and flies. What is their purpose?

As you read the book of Job, you'll find that the text vigorously presses the "why" question. Job was a godly man, one of the godliest ever to have lived, yet his suffering was profound! Though strong in the face of calamity at the outset, as Job endured prolonged agony from failing physical health, the death of seven sons and three daughters, total loss of wealth, and a wife who despised him, Job searched for answers to his circumstance, and he pressed God for answers.

     Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. (Job 10:2, ESV)

     Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? (Job 13:24, ESV)

     Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days? (Job 24:1, ESV)

Other examples exist, but you get the point. We reach a stage of frustration, and at times exasperation, where we cry out to God, "Why?"

Even Jesus, from the cross, cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46b, ESV) And yet, this same Jesus knew that there are purposes beyond our knowing and understanding. As he washed the feet of his disciples, he addressed their incredulity at that action by telling them, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand" (John 13:7b, ESV).

God is molding us, shaping us, maturing us, and doing so for his own holy purposes. Thus it is enough for me to know that he is God and I am not, he is holy and I am not, he is loving and I am self-consumed, he is good and I am sinful. What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.

Years ago, I had a conversation with a pastor friend who lost a young child. When addressing the "why" question, I was dumbstruck by his description and logic of the event. He said, "The question is not, 'Why did God let my child die.' The question is, 'Why does God let me live?'" That man has a worldview that awes me.

As I look at the condition of my world, with sin running rampant, virtually unchallenged and frequently celebrated, it is easy to fall into "Why" mode, or to cry out with Habakkuk, "How long, O' Lord will you let this continue?" Children are abducted and sold into sexual slavery. The strong oppress the weak around the globe. Greed, envy, and the lust for power erode morality and ethics.

Sexuality between a husband and wife is no longer a sacred event. Perversion is the new norm, and godly sexuality is considered perverse. We can become frustrated and anxious at this, with some succumbing to fear or anger. Others will decry those who are concerned as being over-reactionary - "Oh, that will never happen." they say. Yet it does happen, and we unleash a collective sigh as we whisper to ourselves, "I saw that one coming."

As homosexuality reached the point of such public acceptance that it is now celebrated daily with "pride this" and "pride that," transgenderism took the podium for similar advancement, and successfully so. Gender is now withheld from Certificates of Live Birth in order to allow parents to decide on a gender for their offspring, or to coach the young child through the selection process as it grows and matures. Thus, gender is no longer a matter of X and Y chromosomes, but rather a matter of personal preference and choice. As transgenderism, and gender dysphoria is now mainstream and out in the open, we are witnessing the birth of the next phase of debauchery.

I will admit that I have been horrified of late at the ongoing attempts to normalize pedosexuality (sexual activity between adults and children), which is now being described as a "movement," is endorsed and advanced by prominent university professors, and openly defended on social media. I confess here and now that should any adult attempt to engage one of my grandchildren in pedosexual activity, I will go "Bruce Lee" on them so fast and ferociously that they will think tomorrow was yesterday.

In the face of such societal decay, we understandably ask, "Why, God?" and "How long O' Lord?" And I suspect that any explanation coming from God will not truly serve to clarify much for us. Instead, asking "Why" serves more to solidify our frustration and anger.

Trusting God

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 straight your paths.
- Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV

Rather than stress and fret over what we do not understand, cannot understand, and really do not need to understand, let's opt for a positive move of trust in the one who holds it all in his hand. We know that Jesus is upholding all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). We know that in Jesus all things hold together - he is the sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:17). I am much better off to trust Jesus to hold things together, and to find rest for my soul in him.

This concept is put forth by King David in Psalms:

I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. - Psalm 16:8, NIV-1973

Everything in David's life was viewed through the reality of the one at his right hand. Through that lens, everything is as it should be.

Many years ago, a friend and member of my flock was dying of cancer. Everyone involved knew that from this side of the cross there was nothing that could be done. He was going to die. Toward the end of his life, without being overly descriptive, I'll just say he was in really bad shape. As I sat talking with him, I asked a very sincere, "How are you holding up, Paul?" I will never forget his response, "God is still on his throne, and so all is right with my world." That is the response of a man who is viewing every circumstance through the reality of the one at his right hand.

With the worldview of King David, and my friend Paul, we can walk amid chaos with complete inner-serenity. We can stand steadfastly in the face of danger and experience boldness rather than fear. We can be amidst a whirlwind of evil intent and know that God is good. We can watch the world's mess on the evening news and be free of anxiety.

I am not suggesting that we turn a blind-eye to any of that, but rather that we do not allow it to overwhelm us emotionally, and certainly not spiritually. Jesus is bigger than all of that, and we are "in Christ," and as such are safe in the care of the one who is truly in control. Our conversations with God evolve from "Why is this happening," or "How long will this continue," to "Lord, how can I trust you more deeply and glorify you in this circumstance?"

Circumstances are simply the window dressing of your glorious life. Regardless of what is happening in the physical world, you know the peace of God's presence. You will be unshaken when you set the Lord before you.

The LORD is for me; I will not fear;
What can man do to me?
- Psalm 118:6, NASB

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

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Comments

08/01/2018
Wendy L Macdonald  Wendy L Macdonald

Amen to "God is still on his throne" and amen to your Bruce Lee comment. The signs of end times are neon nowadays.

08/01/2018
Damon J. Gray  Damon J. Gray

Isn't that a great line? That was 25ish years ago, and I have never forgotten it, particularly given that it was spoken by a dying shell of a man.

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Acts 17:28 - ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν