Jump Start # 2571
Acts 16:6 “And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.”
I was thinking about this verse the other day. The current social distancing situation has really made many people and families alter and change their plans. I know of funerals that have been held but only ten people could be in the audience. I know of an upcoming wedding that had to be changed. Wedding showers and baby showers have been cancelled or changed to “drive-by” only. Seniors, both in high school and college are realizing that there won’t be a traditional graduation this year. Graduation open houses have been changed or cancelled all together. And, of course, worshipping together has certainly been changed.
Our verse is a great reminder. Paul was traveling and preaching. His plans were to go up into the Asia region. God had other plans. The Holy Spirit, our passage tells us, forbade Paul from going. Bluntly, God said, “No.” It was after this that Paul had the vision of Macedonia and it was there that he went and preached.
There are some reminders and lessons for us:
First, we are not in control of life. Oh, we think we are. We make plans and we’re going to do this and that, and suddenly, all of that changed. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control what goes on in the world. What we are going through is a great reminder of this. A virus has brought the world to it’s knees. Across the globe, nation after nation, big cities and little towns, this invisible enemy has put a scare in us, crippled the world economy and changed the way we do life. Wars have done that. Other epidemics have done that. And, some day, when the Lord returns, it will certainly do that.
Second, although things are not the way we’d like them to be, at the end of the day, the couple are married, the student has graduated, and the dead are buried. After things settle down, there can always be a gathering for celebrations, memorials and parties. The timing isn’t ours, but life can go on.
Third, years from now, this will be a special memory. Old timers still talk about the depression or the great war. That generation was called the “greatest generation” for the way they pulled together and how they endured things. Books, movies and all kinds of family stories have been told about those tough days. And, families and faith survived. So, will we. Decades from now folks will talk about the year they didn’t have a real graduation or a wedding with just ten people in the audience. It will be something to talk about. It will be a memory. There will be lessons that we can teach others. For a couple of months, or even longer, we worshipped in our homes. We still prayed. We remembered the Lord. We read Scriptures. We did what we had to do. Faith is forged upon difficult times. We like luxury. We like ease. We like things running smoothly. We like things to be just the way that they are supposed to be. But those times can make us soft. They can lead us to parking our faith and not using it. During hardships. During inconveniences. During trials. Those are the days that we really dig deep into our faith. We pray more. We trust more. We actually become a stronger people during hardships. Someday, this will just be a memory. For some, it’s been a nightmare that they want to forget as quickly as possible. But for others, they have seen things, learned things and even changed within themselves. Had it not been for this epidemic, some would have never learned these things.
Fourth, through all of this, God has remained right where He’s always been. He hasn’t moved. He’s still running the universe. He still displaying His wonder every day. His word remains true. His promises He has not forgotten. His will is still being accomplished. And, even through tough times, God is still good. Understanding history, especially Biblical history helps keep everything in perspective. We see through the pages of the Bible how the people of God got through tough times. There has been famines, wars, captivity. There has been fearful nights and long days. Some surrendered their faith. Some complained to God. But there were always those who, even in the darkest of nights, held on to a deep faith and trust in the Lord. The Lord saw that. We see that. So, we are having to stay home. It’s still home. We are not being carted away to Babylon. We are not facing lion’s dens, fiery furnaces, armies chasing us or spears being thrown at us. All in all, this isn’t as bad as it could be. Perspective. Look what our forefathers went through with a Civil War. Look what some of the reformers went through in the Middle Ages. Look at the end of Hebrews 11. And, God has remained right where He’s always been.
Finally, all of this puts two expressions before us: First, “If the Lord wills,” from James and second, “Thy will be done,” from the garden prayer. Jesus wanted the cup of suffering to pass. It wasn’t to be. It was not the will of the Father. Did that mean that the Father didn’t like Jesus? No. Did that mean that Jesus had done something wrong? No. The plans of God are often hard for us to see. God’s will brings honor and glory to Him and it fulfills His eternal purpose. We often don’t see that.
It is tough that weddings, graduations birthdays and funerals all have been altered and changed. But that’s life here. Life changes. The only thing certain, is the Lord. So, be flexible. Don’t complain. Make the most of it. Use your imagination and find safe ways to adjust. Things can still be special. And, someday, all of this will pass. It comes to pass, it never comes to stay.
Hope these reminders are helpful for us.