It is now nearly New Year 2022 and will be celebrated with great hope around the World, but contrastingly in many if not most communities, the sentiment is ‘good riddance to 2020 and 2001, years ravaged with a worldwide pandemic, widespread destructive floods across the globe, and raging devastating wildfires on many continents including Australia and US, when surely ‘the coming 2002 year cannot be as bad’. Well, we will have to wait and see about that as we cannot be confident that life will actually deliver us all a better outcome, can we when God’s protection now cannot be trusted?
Even the Bible Old Testament in the book of Exodus exposes the God of Israel as a cruel punitive egoistic megalomaniac who enticed other human individuals into the evil acts when responsible for the ten disastrous Plagues inflicted on Egypt in order to force the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to depart from slavery, solely so they may worship him – each of the plagues confronting Pharaoh and one of his Egyptian gods; served as “signs and marvels” given by God to answer Pharaoh’s taunt that he does not know Yahweh (the name of God used in the bible):
- Turning water to blood: ”with the staff that is in my hands I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink and the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water”
- Frogs: “I will plague your whole country with frogs. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials”
- Lice or gnats: he said “stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.” And when Aaron stretched out his hand with the rod and struck the dust of the ground, lice came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became lice
- Wild animals or flies: this was of creatures capable of harming people and livestock. The “mixture” or “swarm” only came against the Egyptians and did not affect the Israelites
- Pestilence of livestock: “the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats”
- Boils: then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land”
- Thunderstorm of hail and fire: “at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die”. Then he sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. and rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.
- Locusts: “I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now”
- Darkness for three days: the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So, Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days
- Death of firstborn: “About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again”
Now, it doesn’t matter how close we have been to the Christian religion in the past but even those of us who are committed to our God have questions in our minds about trust in God and the teachings of Jesus. Indeed, some of us when let down have at least been tempted to shake a fist at God, I suggest?
Those of us of the older generation remember only too well the Aberfan disaster of some 55 years ago, which was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip on 21 October 1966. The tip had been created on a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, and overlaid a natural spring. A period of heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School and other buildings. The tip was the responsibility of the National Coal Board, and the subsequent inquiry placed the blame for the disaster on the organisation and nine named employees as having some degree of responsibility [see post here ‘Aberfan – where was God? October 23, 2016 by dadman007’]
Last year 2020 saw the entire World in the grip of an uncontrollable virus pandemic that started in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019 and so far, has made over 260 million people contagiously ILL and cost the LIVES of above 5 million souls.
Coronaviruses are themselves a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold (which is also caused by other viruses, predominantly rhinoviruses), while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.
Some might rightly ask where was our Christian God as the Holy Bible’s declared caring father while all this was happening to everyone in his flock including believers and non-believers, the righteous and the sinners, the kind and the uncaring, the rich and the poor, the good as well as the bad, both criminals and law abiders, the young and the old, the fit and the infirm, nurses and doctors dying while helping the sick – all treated alike, without distinction, eh?
For that matter where was Pope Francis and what was he doing about this dire situation for mankind [remember the Popes have regularly claimed to be divine, and as the supposed successor of Peter, the Pope claims infallibility, the position of God on Earth, and ability to judge and excommunicate angels], but those two questions equally applies to both Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland [head of the Anglian Church] or Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury [the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury], doesn’t it?
Oh yes, we might ponder what did any of those who are rich, famous. and powerful actually do to help or alleviate the suffering of those struck down or their lives shattered by this devastating illness? What understanding or kindness have we seen from say mega rich footballers and their likes who continued to party in celebration of last Christmas and New Year and indeed continued to ignore the basic rules designed to help contain the spread of the virus (which they now lamely describe as a “mistake in judgement”.
José Mourinho had made his disappointment clear to three of his Tottenham players after they attended a party over the Christmas period last year in clear breach of strict tier 4 coronavirus regulations or West Ham’s Lanzini seen with Lamela, Lo Celso and Reguilón
With the credibility of football’s Covid-19 protocols undermined by a photograph of Spurs players attending Xmas party with 14 family and friends or Tottenham Hotspur trio Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilón and West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini all faced disciplinary action and a police fines after being caught breaking Government and Premier League rules by meeting together over the festive period.
Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy also risked punishment after admitting hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner party, as did Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for a similar breach that casts further doubt on English football’s community responsibility
What now of the Bible verses about caring for others, and which assures us that God is a caring father. Scripture tells us that the reason we are able to love is because God loved us first. His love for us should compel us to love others more and make sacrifices for people just like Jesus sacrificed His life for our iniquities. Is that teaching compatible with doctors and nurses in the NHS and carers in Care Homes losing their own lives to the virus while caring for others, would you say?
However then, what now for the powerful bible verses about God’s deep personal care for us? What explanations are offered us by the pious, eh?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1
We can feel like God has forsaken us. That he is far away. That he doesn’t see our pain or hear our groaning. One of the greatest challenges’ believers face on a regular basis, is what will we believe – our feelings and emotions or God’s Word. Our feelings are real. We really feel them. They are strong. But our feelings are a poor barometer of the truth. Though they are true feelings, they are not always the truth. God’s word is the truth, whether we feel it or not. So when we FEEL like God is not near, we must remember his Word. We must remember his promises
1. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13
God doesn’t simply send an angel to hold your right hand. The God of heaven and earth personally holds your right hand. This is a figurative expression of his closeness to us and his personal care for us. He says that we are not to fear because he personally helps us – “I am the one who helps you.”
2. fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Here God says that he personally will be with us, strengthen, help and uphold us. For this reason, we need not fear or be dismayed when facing or going through tough times
3. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43.2
We will all “pass through waters” and rivers of hardship and uncertainty and walk through the fires of life. But God promises, “I will be with you.” Personally. Presently. In the midst of the fire, like he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
4. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32.8
This is one of life verses. God himself, the fountain of infinite wisdom and knowledge, promises to personally instruct and teach his children. And he promises to counsel us with his eye upon us. He is watching over us every second. He never slumbers nor sleeps. And he counsels us step by step, day by day, with his eye constantly watching over our every step
5. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23.1-3
In this, one of the most well known passages in the Bible, God tells us he cares for us intimately and personally. He leads us. Feeds us, gives us rest in him. Our good shepherd feeds us and refreshes us in his word – in green pastures. He personally restores our souls when we are weary and drained. He personally leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake – so that we will bring glory to his name.
6. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
Our good Shepherd gathers us in his arms and carries us “in his bosom,” a picture of intimacy and closeness and deep care, and he gently leads us.
7. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5.6-7
God isn’t so busy running the universe that he doesn’t have time for our petty worries. He tells us to cast all our anxieties on him. Why? Because HE CARES FOR YOU. He cares about you. He cares about your children and grandchildren. He cares about you in your job. He cares about your church. He cares for you, that you would have joy and strength
8. As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! Psalm 40.17
The Lord takes thought for us individually – “the Lord takes thought for ME.” You personally are always on his mind. He knows us intimately when we’re “poor and needy” spiritually, emotionally, or physically. And because he takes thought for us he is our help and deliverer. So cry out to him!
9. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34.17-18
Are you broken-hearted? Crushed in spirit? The Lord is near to you. He is with you and identifies deeply with you. If God tells us to weep with those who weep, how much more does he feel for us in our sadness and pain. And he tells us to cry for help, because he hears the cries of those he has made righteous by the blood of Christ. And our personal Saviour will deliver us out of ALL our troubles
10. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2.13
We were once far off from God, but when we believed in Jesus, God brought us near by his blood. How near? We are one with Christ, in union with him. Adopted as God’s children. No longer far off, but family.
11. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13.5
God will never leave nor forsake us. This is how we can be content in every circumstance. We have God himself, the fountain of life and every good thing, and he will never abandon us.
12. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
Talk about intimacy! Jesus calls us his friends! Intimate friends. Friends are intimate and share with each other. And Jesus makes known his Father and his Father’s words and ways to us.
13. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18.24
Jesus is closer to us than any brother, than any family member could ever be. And he sticks close to us.
14. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isaiah 49.15
Lovely verse. Human mothers have a deep care and affection and concern for their nursing children. Human mothers have deep compassion on their infants. Yet sometimes, they may forget. Yet God has more compassion and care for us than the most loving mothers on earth. He will never forget to care for us or fail to have compassion on us.
15. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When we are afflicted, we can run to “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” And there is no affliction he will not comfort us in – he comforts us in “ALL OUR AFFLICTION.” So much so that we can pour out God’s comfort on others in their pain
Hopefully these verses encourage you as much as they have encouraged some others through the years. God cares for you
[What do YOU think about where does true life actually leave us – throw our lot in with the Devil and join the rich criminals who don’t get punished in this world, or continue strong belief in the scriptures, or even search for a different GOD?]