We all have a picture of God, who He is, what kind of things He does. But we will never have a better picture of God than the one He paints of Himself.
God claims to give permission, let, stand back, hold back, or take His hands off and allow bad things to occur (John 19:11; Job 1-3; 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1). But God claims to cause, to control, to orchestrate and bring about, directly and purposefully, what we have dubbed “bad” things (Job 37:13; 2 Samuel 17:14; Isaiah 45:7, 50:2-3, 53:10; Ephesians 1:11).
Among the things God claims responsibility for are the tragedies, the mass casualties, the senseless deaths, the cancers, and the tornadoes. God’s hands wound and heal (Job 5:18; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 51:8; Hosea 6:1), build up and tear down (Jeremiah 45:4; 1 Samuel 2:6-8), save and destroy (James 4:12; Jeremiah 30:11).
To be clear, I believe in the calmer of the waves. Jesus Christ, in my boat, the power to hush the storm and bid the waves be still. I believe in the healer of my soul, who can miraculously or ordinarily, on the spot or over time, touch me and I am healed. I believe in the defeater of armies, the God of all strength, the God of miracles who makes mountains move. I also believe in the Maker of those mountains.
Peace shows up when God does. And if God is only responsible for the rescues, the end of troubles, the sunny days and clear skies, then every time my life begins to rain, peace will flee.
I have to believe every storm was raised by the hands of the same Jesus who even the wind and waves obey. And if peace shows up when God does, then perhaps, when praying for peace, I need not ask Him to calm the storm. Just to calm me, to sit in the boat with me, to cover me with His wings. When I pray for healing, maybe I need not pray for healing of my body, just healing of my soul, that joy and peace would find me through the pain so that I can use it as an opportunity to praise Him. If He can write and break the laws of nature at will, control light and darkness, calamity and prosperity (Isaiah 45:7), then each and every one is a place I can praise Him.
David praised the God of green pastures and called Him the same God of the valley places, the shadowy haunts, where death is (Psalm 23). If God is God there, He is God. Anywhere. And there is nowhere I can go outside His reach.
Excerpt from “Peace and How to Keep It.” Coming fall 2020.