“Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3)
If you were to ask many people how they would describe the task of trying to keep everything in their lives together, make ends meet, or find time for all their various responsibilities, you might hear them use words like, “overwhelmed” or “stressed.” Were you to ask them how they feel about problems in our world, such as disease, famine, violence, and war, you might hear them describe themselves as “frightened” or even “powerless,” as though the reality of such modern day challenges are too enormous, too big, for them to even comprehend a solution.
Such responses would not seem unreasonable to most of us. In fact, many do not even want to engage in discussions about the issues we face in our times because we don’t really believe that we can do anything about them. It’s just too big. It’s just beyond us. Others would admit the need for answers but might argue that they have their hands full just managing their own affairs, let alone trying to work out issues of such magnitude.
There is no doubt that our world faces big problems. Our newspapers are filled with headlines that exacerbate the hopelessness many feel, as there seems to be no end to man’s capacity for cruelty toward his fellow man. Certainly, there are good things that happen, and when they are reported the positive reactions almost seem disproportionate to the tale of good deeds, so desperate are we to discover and promote anything positive in our world. What is even more frightening to many is the realization that this is not some new, sudden downward trend in man’s behavior. Rather, we simply have more and better tools of communication to get the stories fed to us more quickly.
Yes, our world is in trouble, but there is good news in the midst of it all. Our God is bigger. That’s not some glib Christian cliché to be invoked like some imaginary eraser that pretends to make all the world’s problems disappear. Rather, it is a realization, and what is more, an admission, that we who created these problems in the first place, are not the final solution to them. There is One who is not subject to the brokenness of this world, and yet He is touched by the pain of our brokenness and has already provided a solution to the desperation we feel.
Our focus on the world’s troubling issues makes them loom large, casting a shadow on the backdrop of our lives. People plan for a future, wondering if there is any future to which they can really look forward. They plan a family, wondering if this is the kind of world into which they should be bringing innocent children. However, fear is the tool of the devil, designed to magnify only what He wants us to see. It paints a false image, robbing us of the initiative and courage we need to put our hand to the plow and be a part of a better world.
The fact is that biblical history is littered with the stories of man’s desperate condition. This is nothing new to the world; it’s just new to us. As one person said quite truthfully, “New news is just old news happening to new people!” In reality, it was always in the midst of dark times, not unlike those we face today, that God broke forth with those whom He would call, appoint, and anoint, to bring light into the darkness and rekindle the hopes of men. From an enslaved people he brought forth a Moses to usher in a new age of freedom for His people. When the law was lost and God’s people had wandered away, He raised up a Josiah to reopen the temple and restore the people back to their God. When the city lay in ruins and her people were captives in a strange land, He raised up a Nehemiah to rebuild the city and a Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. When He needed to prepare an oppressed and downtrodden people for His coming He raised up a John the Baptist, and when man needed a Savior, He gave us Jesus.
In every one of these situations it would have been very, very easy for those whom God used to see the circumstances as impossible, and Moses was not the only one of His servants who tried to wriggle out of the task to which they were called. Apart from Jesus, none of these men were extraordinary in themselves. They were not supermen, but rather they were normal men with a super God, a God who was bigger than any challenges they faced. For the stubborn Pharaoh God had plagues that demonstrated His power. For the beleaguered exiles in the wilderness He brought forth water from the rock and manna from the skies. For the giant who intimidated the armies of Israel He had a shepherd boy with a sling and a stone, and to restore the lost hope of mankind, He gave us a baby in a manger. Always from such humble circumstances God raised up a deliverance that gave new meaning to the word “epic” and defied all odds of success. This is how God works, not through the armies of kings but with the shepherd’s rod of an exiled Egyptian prince, such as Moses, who brought a superpower to its knees through the power of God. He does not employ the four hundred false prophets of Baal who shout and spill their blood in religious pretense, but the lone, strange and solitary figure of Elijah, who calls fire down from heaven and brings a nation back to their God. It’s God and his faithful few against everyone else, and God always wins. Always.
The fact of the matter is, yes, you can have a significant, joyful, and hopeful life in these times. Yes, you can be a part of the answer. Yes, you can be confident that you are not outmanned, outgunned, or out of your depth. Why? Not because all the world’s problems will dissipate and dissolve by morning, but because God is bigger. He is not frightened, surprised, or unsure of His next move. He’s got this.
Once, when the enemy had surrounded the prophet Elisha, his servant, seeing the horses and chariots surrounding them, despaired of any deliverance. Elisha, however, simply prayed, “Lord, open his eyes.” Then the eyes of the servant were opened to see the surrounding mountains and hills filled with the armies of the living God who were there to fight on behalf of God’s man. I just want to encourage you today, and let you know that you are not alone. If you are God’s child and committed to His purpose, He is with you. And the good news is, despite what you might be facing, He is bigger.