Those who know me know that I am much more of a devotionalist than a scholar, humorist, polemicist, or whatever. To the extent that this is the case, I want to say a few things:
Hurricanes, one after the other, multiple wildfires in the West after chronic drought, a terrible earthquake in Mexico, horrific flooding in Bangladesh, political and economic instability the world over, the list continues. There’s really no escaping the fact that times aren’t the best that they could be right now. The apocalyptic imagery of Mark 13 and Matthew 24 notwithstanding, it helps to be reassured of the sovereignty, lovingkindness, and benevolence of God in the midst of so much uncertainty.
Let us begin with the Psalmist, as one does:
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night… O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? […] Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me. […] I say to God, my rock: “Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Recall if you will the paradox of Grace. The Eternal God chose to make his dwelling with us in the first century, in Roman occupied Palestine among the rural poor. The Savior of humankind bears the burden of our sin on His shoulders and invites us into true humanity, into true fellowship with brother and sister to truly understand what it means to love.
Were we to give nothing but ourselves to God! And then, like a burst of light piercing the veil of our dreary milieu, Christ the living God gives everything to us—he gives himself to us, day in and day out. The surety of Jesus Christ is made manifest to us in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Lord’s Supper. The love of God, in solidarity and fellowship, deigns to dwell with us in Spirit and truth. God desires to know us all!
In crisis God is nearer to us than we dare to imagine. The presence of the Lord will be made manifest in the breaking of the floods and rapids. As the wounded and mourning seek for help, Jehovah makes his abode wide and his heart even wider to nurse our ailing bodies and souls towards healing. In what seems like the most foreboding silence, the Lord and the Heavenly Host sing in triumphant voice the victory of life at the culmination of history. Christ intercedes with us and for us and the Spirit groans with our groaning and like incense lifts our prayers to the Father’s ears.
The Gift of God is our succor in devastating catastrophe and calamity—personal, natural, or otherwise. The Gift of God is himself!
How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n; / So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n. / No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, / Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in – Phillips Brooks