Finding Hope Amid Chaos
We are certainly living in uncertain and often frightening times with everything that has happened to us this past year. From the Covid-19 Pandemic to protests, riots, and threats — the list can go on and on. But now that I think of it aren’t we always living in uncertain times? The details of our situation may be new, but the experiences of fear, isolation, and anxiety have always been the same.
Not just this past year, but throughout my entire life, I have felt, lived through, and witnessed some very troubling things. I remember watching on television the September 11, 2001, attack on the Twin Towers. I experienced the infamous blackout in August of 2003. I had to see my son off to the Marine Corp on Mother’s Day in 2008 and go through torture and worry when he was deployed to Afghanistan, only to be the one to tell him that his best friend was killed while also serving in Afghanistan. And throughout this time, like many others in my life, I paused and asked, why are all these bad things happening? Is this the work of the enemy, or perhaps it is just that people have hardened their hearts and have abandoned what is right and moral?
In Lamentations 2:3, it says: “He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has withdrawn from them his right hand in the face of the enemy; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around.”
I asked myself, is this the wrath of God? Is He so fed up with us He has just given up on us completely?
But why would God, who is always good, let these things happen? Why would He turn away from us in our biggest time of need? In the case of the Lamentations passage above, sometimes bad things happen as a direct consequence of our sin. Other times, it is because we live in a broken world. It’s not because of one person’s sin but a chance for God to demonstrate His power and glory in our lives. I don’t believe it is because God is turning away from us. However, there are times where we are refusing to follow Him and the commandments that He gave us in Scripture. And although God has warned us continuously, many of us just ignore Him and disobey Him.
My all-time favorite quote is, “It isn’t what happens to you in life, but how you react to what happens to you.” We all experience good and bad in our lives, but how we react to it shows our character and determines our own fate. During the initial quarantine in early March of 2020, I was working from home when suddenly I was overcome with a sense of intense sadness. I knelt beside my bed to pray, but instead of praying, I had a complete breakdown and wept uncontrollably. I couldn’t understand what was happening and why. I was scared and devastated about what was going on in our world. Having two sons and two grandchildren, I was distraught with worry for their future. We’ve all been through so much already. What kind of world were they going to have to live in when I am gone? As the months passed, it just seemed to get worse and worse. I got to the point where I just couldn’t even watch the news any longer. It brought a sense of sadness and despair.
“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!” Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street.” -Lamentations 2:19
I finally realized that my uncontrollable weeping was me letting go and crying out to the Lord for His grace and bringing all my worry, pain, and suffering to Him, surrendering to Him what I could not change and that only He can deal with. All the sickness, bitterness, and hatred that was pouring out of this world was something I knew that I could never understand on my own. I knew that God was in control, and these things needed to come to pass for reasons I may never understand, but I was caught off guard, and it came as a surprise. As I sat there in the quiet, the realization started to come to me that whatever was happening was part of God’s bigger plan; only then did I start to feel better. I sat there for a moment longer and thanked the Lord for giving me the wisdom and peace that I didn’t even realize I needed.
“The Lord has become like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel; he has swallowed up all its palaces, he has laid in ruins its strongholds, and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation.” — Lamentations 2:5
I sometimes imagine our Lord watching from above. All of his people, living in sin, chaos, turmoil, and destruction, and so many are not turning to Him. It can be frustrating to think about, but we know God sent His Son, Jesus, to bear the full wrath of sin for our redemption. God’s discipline isn’t meant to punish us but to bring us to repentance. God loves us, and “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6)