Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, I have felt a wide range of emotions. At times anger has surged inside me as I have watched news accounts of many elected officials attempting to take advantage of the crisis for personal or political advantage.
I think we all have felt fear at times for ourselves, our loved ones, and for the future of our nation where leaders can so easily take away our rights. The draconian measures of many governors in the United States far exceed the powers of their office and pose a significant threat to our freedoms.
The words of Psalm 46:10 have been my frequent place of refuge and source of peace as many emotions continue to stir inside me as the result of this crisis. Like many of you. I feel the strain and greatly need the reassuring words of Scripture in this verse and in many other texts.
In most translations, Psalm 46:10 begins with this command, “Be still . . . .” In the Hebrew, the word assumes the presence of an agitated mind, most likely caused by world events (see 46:1-6). The NASB translation “cease striving” captures the sense of the Lord’s instruction for us to let go of our anxieties and release our fears and troubles into the hands of the One who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
In Psalm 37:8, we see the word translated as “refrain” in the phrase “refrain from anger.” Here the psalmist asks us to not “fret” when evil people succeed in carrying out vile schemes, but to wait patiently for the Lord to administer His justice. The assumption in Psalm 37 is that wicked people will have a prolonged season of success that will frustrate us. Do we not feel this as we watch the news these days?
The Lord does not merely ask us to relax in view of world crises, He provides us with sound reasons to do so.
Recognize God’s Sovereignty
The first line of Psalm 46:10 continues with this instruction, “and know that I am God.” We can “cease striving” because of God’s control over all things pertaining to our lives as well as the world. Regardless of what we see or experience, the purposes of our Lord will not fail. The One who spoke trillions of stars into existence with a word and gave each a name (see Psalm 147:4-6) is more than able to keep His promises and bring history to a dramatic climax when Jesus returns and sets up His righteous kingdom.
In Isaiah 46:8-10, God proclaims His sovereignty over human history: “Remember this and stand firm, / recall it to mind, you transgressors, / remember the former things of old; / for I am God, and there is no other; / I am God, and there is none like me, / declaring the end from the beginning / and from ancient times things not yet done, / saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, / and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”
The Lord spoke these words through Isaiah over 2,700 years ago; and yet He could see the impact of COVID-19 virus then just as clearly as He sees it today. And, He already knew thousands of years ago how He would accomplish His purposes through it. Could it be that the Lord is giving the world one last chance to turn to Him before the onset of the tribulation? I believe this is a distinct possibility.
Jesus Will Reign as King Over All the Earth
The Lord tells us of His future reign in the last couple lines of Psalm 46:10, “I will be exalted among the nations, / I will be exalted in the earth!” What a dramatic contrast to what we see in our world today where people parade their evil on the streets and politicians celebrate the killing of children! These things will end; Jesus will rule over the nations. His righteousness and glory will extend to the ends of the earth (Hab. 2:14).
“How can Jesus’ future millennial rule calm our troubled hearts as we watch evil expand exponentially in our world?” you ask. At first glance, it appears to be dry theology against the backdrop of a virus that has turned our lives upside down and inside out.
These words, however, assure us of Christ’s ultimate victory over Satan’s realm, which will lead to His glorious kingdom where we will reign with Him. It matters because Jesus’ future triumph will be our victory as well. I believe the myriad of our experiences in this life, good and bad, will find their ultimate purpose when Jesus assigns each of us a place in His glorious kingdom.
Our lives rest in the loving hands of the One who not only accomplishes His sovereign purposes for the entire world, but also for our lives. His redemptive plan for the world is older than the earth itself. As New Testament saints, we are “co-heirs” with Him (Rom. 8:17); we will share in Jesus’ ultimate victory over sin and death and forever reign with Him.
Jesus’ reign culminates what the Old Testament refers to as the “day of the Lord.” This time begins with the outpouring of God’s wrath upon sinful humanity; it’s what we refer to today as the tribulation. Isaiah 13:9-13 and Joel 2:28-3:3 describe this coming day when Jesus rises up to judge the sin and arrogance of the world and establish His righteous reign over the nations.
How Does Our Future Encourage Us Now?
You may be wondering how this can possibly encourage us now. Let me share a personal story that illustrates how our future hope brings encouragement to us in the midst of painful circumstances. Thirty-five years ago, I experienced much loss during a time of great turmoil and much emotional pain. One night I spent six hours weeping alongside the church that I had once pastored.
Since then, the Lord has restored my life in ways I once thought impossible. He has abundantly replaced all that was lost during my years of darkness and comforted me in ways I could not have imagined years ago. In some ways I feel like Job in the Old Testament.
As I read a David Jeremiah devotional on Isaiah 46 last week, it occurred to me that as I was crying out to the Lord alongside the church that dark night so long ago, He saw ahead to this time in my life. He allowed much pain to come into my life fully aware of how he would bless me in the future and use the experience for my benefit.
“Why didn’t Jesus relieve my suffering instantly on the spot so long ago?” you might ask. It was precisely because He could see my future that He waited. Jesus knew I desperately needed the lengthy process of healing and recovery to produce the spiritual maturity I lacked and to prepare me to serve Him both now in my current ministry and in eternity. The Lord saw that I needed the long and difficult road in order to serve and glorify Him. I still have rough edges, but many disappeared during the long years of waiting.
For all of us in Christ, He sees our future existence with imperishable immortal bodies just as clearly as he sees our current physical infirmities and frustrating limitations. Someday, perhaps quite soon, we will see Jesus face to face, celebrate with Him in His Father’s house, hug loved ones who have already died in Christ, and later reign with Him in the kingdom role for which He’s preparing us.
God sees these things in the midst of our grief and frustrations.
Do you see why Satan hates any teaching about Jesus’ glorious reign during the millennium?
Our adversary despises any talk of our millennial reign with Christ because of its promise of restoration and victory for us. It’s our future role in ruling with Christ during the millennium that adds an eternal purpose to our suffering in this life.
This is not dry, stuffy doctrine; quite the contrary. The One who sees all our afflictions in this life knows precisely how He will use our experiences and gifts in His kingdom.
We Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
I know this mindset does not come easily with the agitation that continually comes our way in this present world. I sense the fear in the eyes of people at the grocery store, and I greatly fear for the future of the United States. It’s because of all these things that we need the refuge of God’s Word, and in particular, Psalm 46:10 (see also Proverbs 18:10).
Yes, the process (AKA life in this world) often weighs us down with pain and grief, but a much better day is coming for those of us who know Jesus as our Savior when we will reign with Jesus in His glorious kingdom. The process may grieve us, but, oh, the glory that awaits the saints!
The best is yet to come, or perhaps a more succinct way of saying it is this: “we ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Website: Our Journey Home
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