Weaker Than I Need to Be

I’m taking a poll here, how does the statement “fear of any form of conflict” affect you? Do you fit into this category, or do you despise this phobia and its implications? How many people do you know who have this?

I guess we all suffer from this affliction to some extent, but I am thinking of individuals who live in this state their entire lives, never knowing that they are one-conflict-farther-away-from-no-more-fear than they need to be.

How many of us think that we will have a better life if we have no conflict, or imagine that we’re not strong enough to ride the waves that will get us to that infamous shore?

I know that I have felt like that. What if I let me true feelings be known, and rather than being respected, they are treated in such a way as to communicate that they mean nothing?

Another thing I don’t like the thought of is becoming the object of discussion so that everyone will have a chance to point out everything that’s wrong about me.

There is so much that could be gained from being open and honest, but how badly will I be cut up? It may be the only way, but if I have to die to do it, maybe I would rather live with a little less.

In many cases these are not unfounded fears. Yet, it is a shame that we stick to our impulses on this one. We may not feel strong, but could we become more able and secure than we are?

Consider for a moment the implications made in these verses from Isaiah 65:17:

[ New Heavens and a New Earth ] “Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish; No more babies dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal— anything less will seem like a cheat. They’ll build houses and move in. They’ll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates, For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won’t work and have nothing come of it, they won’t have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by God, with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed. Before they call out, I’ll answer. Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere on my Holy Mountain,” says God.

If our God can do this, can He not enable us to grow strong and steady; able to face every wind that comes our way with confidence and integrity, knowing that He supplies everything our lives depend on to stand and endure?

Chaos in the Hands of a Mighty God

Where do we look when chaos and confusion descend, occupying our very pores with the perfect indifference of a silty fog?

What do we do when help is at a premium and hope is at a minimum?

Which words do we choose when we know that none of our own will neatly put away our reproach, deliver us from the sting of our sorrow or still the anger awakening our feuds?

How do we think of God when our troubles are perpetual, seemingly impossible, and yet inescapable?

When do we realize that we can’t do this life as a one-man show, or even a one-plus-twenty-man show because the life of the Spirit is needed to work within us?

Since chaos is something that we all feel caught in the middle of at some point in our lives, I thought it would be helpful to examine this that we might learn how best to face it.

I will begin with 2 Samuel 22:17:

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

Where do you believe God is when there is chaos in your life? Is He distant and unconcerned, or is He close by and just unable to save?

I have lived for many years moving back and forth on that continuum. Neither belief satisfied me; instead, they both made me more hopeless, more angry at God.

I believe that the reason why chaos rocks us when it rocks our world is that we do not have any confidence in God. If we really knew the love of God for us, we would not expect our circumstances to destroy us.

Depending on where you are coming from when you read this, the above statement may sound like nothing more than a trite response to a real need. My intent in writing this is not to offer an easy solution to crippling difficulties. I realize that not every problem goes away, not every miracle that we hope for takes place; sometimes we have to go through utter devastation and there are no marvelous rescues. This is life and its more than we know how to handle.

Provers 28:2 expresses this well, yet with hope:

When the country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it— But it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out.

It is when we stop basing our confidence on who we are and what we can do, that we come face-to-face with reality. Every one of us is inclined to have all the answers until we cease underestimating our world and the turmoil it boasts. Then we are left with no answers, no reasonable idea of what to make of life.

Yet, could it be that we are not just missing answers, but the very context that supports that understanding? Maybe it is so hard to makes sense of what we see, because there is so much more that we do not see.

Yes, the evil in our world is plain to see; therefore, isn’t it be easier for us to put stock in the existence of demons and devils than angels and the trinity? And then, for a lot of us who do believe in both, we punctuate the themes of holy beings with our more comprehensive understanding of evil things?

Isaiah 24:16 says it better than I can:

But I said, “That’s all well and good for somebody, but all I can see is doom, doom, and more doom.” All of them at one another’s throats, yes, all of them at one another’s throats. Terror and pits and booby traps are everywhere, whoever you are. If you run from the terror, you’ll fall into the pit. If you climb out of the pit, you’ll get caught in the trap. Chaos pours out of the skies. The foundations of earth are crumbling. Earth is smashed to pieces, earth is ripped to shreds, earth is wobbling out of control, Earth staggers like a drunk, sways like a shack in a high wind. Its piled-up sins are too much for it. It collapses and won’t get up again.

Yet the Word of God points out that He is certainly involved in the chaos of our world — even the chaos of our own lives — though He remains entirely separate from it. He possesses the ultimate control of every evil deed that unfolds in and about us, but we cannot use the oils of these occurrences to paint the portrait of Divinity. He cannot be defined by what we know from a worldly education. Life does not provide accurate observations of a Being beyond science.

God does not become irrelevant when we no longer hastily prop ourselves up on simple confidences in weak explanations. Instead, he becomes more imperative than we ever conceived that He could be. Sophisticated means of defining our world and supporting our livelihood here are still theories. There only appeal is that they offer a way of living and expressing ourselves that avoids the necessity of acknowledging God.

And what can we expect from these atheistic calculations of ours?

It’s God’s scheduled time for vengeance, the year all Zion’s accounts are settled. Edom’s streams will flow sluggish, thick with pollution, the soil sterile, poisoned with waste, The whole country a smoking, stinking garbage dump— The fires burning day and night, the skies black with endless smoke. Generation after generation of wasteland— no more travelers through this country! Vultures and skunks will police the streets; owls and crows will feel at home there. God will reverse creation. Chaos! He will cancel fertility. Emptiness! Leaders will have no one to lead. They’ll name it No Kingdom There, A country where all kings and princes are unemployed. Thistles will take over, covering the castles, fortresses conquered by weeds and thornbushes. Wild dogs will prowl the ruins, ostriches have the run of the place. Wildcats and hyenas will hunt together, demons and devils dance through the night. The night-demon Lilith, evil and rapacious, will establish permanent quarters. Scavenging carrion birds will breed and brood, infestations of ominous evil. (Isaiah 34:8)

The whole point of God allowing chaos to persist in our world is to point us back to Him and make us desire the order and salvation that He brings:

Isaiah 51:9
Wake up, wake up, flex your muscles, God! Wake up as in the old days, in the long ago. Didn’t you once make mincemeat of Rahab, dispatch the old chaos-dragon? And didn’t you once dry up the sea, the powerful waters of the deep, And then made the bottom of the ocean a road for the redeemed to walk across? In the same way God’s ransomed will come back, come back to Zion cheering, shouting, Joy eternal wreathing their heads, exuberant ecstasies transporting them— and not a sign of moans or groans.