“When will this ever end?!” It was the question I was asking myself as I sat in a dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned. I had not been to the dentist in years, and the hygienist was showing me no mercy. For someone who is not all that prone to crying, tears were running down my face as I gripped the chair and waited for what seemed like many long agonizing hours of relentless torture. Of course, it was really only a few minutes, but I had lost all sense of time. All I could do was hold onto the hope that this was somehow worth it, that the promises of good dental hygiene were indeed true.
Now, of course, I’m being facetious… mostly. That being said, this story may illustrate what many of us are feeling during seasons of suffering in our lives, including this seemingly never-ending pandemic. I saw a t-shirt the other day that said, “2020 is a unique leap year. 29 days in February; 300 days in March; 5 years in April.” That’s sort of what it feels like, doesn’t it? When we are enduring trials like these, it is like time slows down to a crawl. Where can we turn for hope when it seems like a trial will never end? Your answer to that question will largely be determined by your answer to this second question, namely, “How great is your God?”
The Lord Reigns … Let Us Rejoice In Hope
In Psalm 97:1-5, we read, “The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.” The psalm is a description of God’s sovereignty. That is, God is on His throne. He is very much alive and very much involved in the affairs of this world that He has created. It is precisely because of this that we can have the assurance of hope even when everything seems to be spiraling out of control. God has made some big promises to us in His Word, promises that are filled with hope for the future and a time when goodness and righteousness will prevail.
Of course, the only way we can have confidence that His promises are true is if we believe that He is as big and powerful and in control as He has revealed Himself to be. One preacher put it this way, “Perhaps that is what we need for a revival of our faith and courage–an enlarged conception of God. Our doubts and timidities and despairs arise from the fact that we have made Him altogether like ourselves.” That is, we focus so much on God’s fatherhood and Jesus’ friendship that we neglect God’s infinite power and sovereignty. And if we diminish God to nothing more than a really great dad and a good friend, then we have little confidence that God can follow through on His too-good-to-be-true promises, especially when our circumstances scream that evil and suffering are winning the day.
The Lord Reigns … The Gospel Proves It!
But how can we be sure that God is as great as He claims to be? We could look at the universe He has made that gives clear testimony to His eternal power and divine nature (cf. Romans 1:20). But I would also encourage you to go back to the gospel. For, in the death and resurrection of Jesus we find perhaps the greatest demonstration of not only God’s love but also His sovereignty. For Jesus stated clearly before going to the Cross, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:18). And that is precisely what Jesus did. And through His death and resurrection, He bore the wrath of God towards humanity’s sin (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21), and He disarmed Satan and his demons, our spiritual adversaries, by putting them to open shame (cf. Colossians 2:13-15).
Not only that, but He also defeated death. “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).
As a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can have full confidence in His promise of everlasting life beyond the grave. We can also have full assurance that even when everything seems to be spiraling out of control, our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The Lord Reigns … Lean On His Everlasting Arms
So, have you been finding yourself discouraged lately, wondering if this season of trial will ever come to an end? Then, look no further than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For by grace through faith in Him as your Savior, you can have assurance that God’s promises are true (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20). You can have assurance that God really will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (cf. Romans 8:28). You can have assurance that the day is coming when the dwelling place of God will be with man, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain … or even viruses! You can have assurance that Jesus’ words are true when He said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
And in that assurance, you will find peace. Consider, in closing, the words of this great hymn, and may its truth resonate with your heart as you rest in the assurance of the great sovereignty of our God! [LISTEN HERE]
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms! I have peace complete with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
Leaning, leaning, Safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.