No matter what.
No matter what our circumstances, we can trust that God is in charge. No matter what storm we encounter, no matter what is happening in our relationships, no matter what is going on across the ocean, no matter how the world has canceled us, God is in charge.
Even if you are in Mexico and wait for five hours at Immigration and the men ahead of you are told they don’t have the right paperwork and you tap them on the shoulder and whisper to them to walk down the street to the Coca-Cola lady and she will prepare their paperwork for them (for a fee) and then you have to do the same and you end up in line behind them and they sit in the only two chairs on the sidewalk and never offer you a seat and never even thank you when they end up leaving the Immigration office an hour before you. As a final insult, Immigration tells you to pull your hair back to take your official photo and, in your official document, you look like you have been mauled by a grizzly bear.
Everyone I meet is dealing with something (and yes, I know, much more challenging than my Immigration story). Two of my closest Christian friends are dealing with auto-immune diseases and three with Parkinson’s disease. As I watch them become more debilitated, I am touched to see them lean on God and trust that He is the only One in charge.
No matter what.
This morning, I listened to a podcast by speaker/author Linda Shepherd whose 18-month- old daughter, strapped in her car seat, was thrown from a vehicle onto a freeway.” For a year, the toddler was in a coma—referred to a “vegetative state” by 21 health care professionals– and only when her newborn baby brother was placed next to her in her bed did she awaken. Linda spoke about what a blessing it was to care for a mentally and physically handicapped child for 26 years. Because “God is in charge.” In another interview, she said this: “When we are despairing, Jesus is caring.”
I’m not sure there is anything that moves me more than watching people with extreme burdens lean into God and profess that He is in charge. They don’t blame. They don’t ever ask “Why me?” They don’t turn to alcohol or drugs to help them deal. They find blessings amidst their trials.
No one did that better than Paul. In Acts 16 we read that he and his traveling companion Silas were “severely flogged” and then thrown into prison. Flogging was especially brutal. The usual instrument was a short whip with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. The maximum number of blows was 39, or until the victim was considered “near death.”
We can assume these disciples were in bad shape when they were thrown into jail, their feet fastened in the stock. What did they do? Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God. No moaning. No self-pity. Let’s pick up in verse 26: Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake…All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! Panicked, yet understanding something supernatural had happened, the jailer asked what he needed to do to follow the same God Paul and Silas served. In the end, the jailer and his family became Christians and were baptized.
All because, no matter what happened to these disciples, they kept the faith.
And so should we. No matter what.