Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Don’t Let Your Heart Be Troubled

“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom, came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist attacks.” So began George W. Bush’s address to the nation on September 11, 2001.

This date sneaks up on me each year. I don’t like thinking about it: airplanes flown into buildings, fires burning, the twin towers collapsing. Every anniversary rekindles my deep sadness and reminds me of the fear and anger I felt that day.

But mostly, I just felt hopeless.

Technology has shrunk our world to the size of a computer screen. We watch actual wars in real time. We communicate across the globe with the push of a button. We see violence erupt and lives end. And when we are hopelessly numb, the television remote control rescues us by clicking to a different channel.

The past two weeks I have watched wildfires decimate British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. There is ash on our cars each morning. Lingering smoke has erased nearby hills. The air is heavy and pungent.

Then Hurricane Harvey came ashore in Corpus Christi (Body of Christ), TX. Whole towns have been destroyed. Meanwhile a monster earthquake has leveled parts of Mexico. And if all that isn’t bad enough, now Americans hold their collective breath waiting for Hurricane Irma to make landfall in the Florida Keys. Suffering is imminent. Hope is illusive.

Similar to September 11, many people wonder about a good God who allows such tragedy. How can we trust Him to run the universe when terrorists and earthquakes and weather and floods shatter the lives of innocent people? Shouldn’t a sovereign God be able to do better?

Maybe He is.

Through the prophet Isaiah God pointed out that, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” (Isa 55:8) He dwells in a place that supersedes time and dimension. Simply put, God sees what we cannot-- the Big Picture.

Author Max Lucado writes, “What controls you doesn’t control him. What troubles you doesn’t trouble him. What fatigues you doesn’t fatigue him. Is an eagle disturbed by traffic? No, he rises above it. Is the whale disturbed by a hurricane? Of course not; he plunges beneath it. Is the lion flustered by the mouse standing directly in his way? No, he steps over it.”

For most people it isn’t terrorists or rain or quaking that fuels their despair. It’s when she asks for a divorce, police knock on the door, the doctor calls in the night, the kids rebel, or their finances collapse. It’s when the people we love let us down—hard.

We don’t know the thoughts of people trapped in the twin towers, or Texans caught in the flood, or Mexicans when their homes collapsed on top of them. But I feel confident that many committed themselves into the arms of a loving God when it counted the most, and He ushered them past all suffering and fear. Moving hearts toward heaven is more important than steel and rubble, wind and water.

There is an old gospel song by Charles Tindley that says, “We’ll understand it better by and by.” Until then, hope encourages us to leave unanswered questions unanswered for now.

Theologian Thomas Merton wrote, “The real hope is not in something we think we can do, but in God, who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.”

Someday we will receive clarity. Today’s tragedies will eventually make sense, or perhaps they will no longer matter. Eternity will makes hope obsolete.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1)