Recently, we remembered the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001. For those of us who were living on that day, we can all remember where we were as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and the two towers subsequently collapsed. As a nation and as a people, we felt helpless.
This year seems to be a year of natural disasters. Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston and southeast Texas; Hurricane Irma destroyed the Florida Keys and made an imprint on the Florida Peninsula; then, the Caribbean took a punch in the gut, first by Irma and then most recently by Hurricane Maria. On top of these hurricanes we have seen multiple earthquakes topple lives in Mexico. This is not to mention all of the tragic natural disasters in the Eastern Hemisphere. Even this week, we saw Las Vegas devastated by one ruthless gunman, killing many and injuring countless more.
The problems of the world, so many times, leave us disillusioned—either by North Korea having weapons of mass destruction or by terrorism that is sponsored by Iran and Syria. We also become disillusioned simply because of the situations, whether big or small, in our own personal lives. We develop so many expectations for our lives, and when those expectations don’t become reality, we become disappointed, bitter, and disillusioned. Throughout all of this disillusionment, the Christ-follower must remember that we serve a God who is sovereign; even when things seem out of control, we serve a God who’s in control.
When trouble comes we instinctively want to fix things. And, if we can’t fix it, we feel out of control and don’t know what to do or how to react. I’m convicted because I would tell anyone I met that I am committed to prayer. Are we as Christ followers really a people of prayer? Are we desperate for the intervention of our great sovereign and Holy God? When trouble comes today in the form of a hurricane, a natural disaster, injustice and evil, or circumstances outside of our control will our instinct be to panic and try to fix it ourselves; to run to someone else who may have a good strategy or a steady plan; or get on our knees and seek the Lord?
I believe we can find four truths from Ecclesiastes 9:11-10:2, which leave us with hope instead of disillusionment. Even as we try to reach into the life of children in crisis, kids in the foster system, or orphans needing to be adopted, we realize that so many things are outside of our control. It is good to remember that we serve a God who brings great hope through uncertainty.
The first truth is that life is unpredictable, but God is in control.
Skill, or the lack of skill, is not what predicts whether we will be successful. Ecclesiastes 9:11 reads, “Time and chance happen to them all,” meaning that the passage of time and the flow of life is completely out of our control. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or intelligent; you cannot build up a kingdom by which time and chance won’t suddenly fall upon you.
For the people in the Caribbean, Texas, and Florida, their houses could not save them from the wind and water. On September 11, 2001, our World Trade Center could no save us from destruction or provide ultimate safety. The U.S. military cannot save us from all invading enemies. You cannot build a life that’s indestructible. Life is precious and a gift of God.
God has ordained every single one of our steps, and He knew our beginnings and He knows our end. God is sovereign and He is in control. When life feels like it is spinning out of control—your house has been destroyed, you have lost a loved one, or your child whom you adopted is running away from you– remember, God is not spinning out of control! Cry to Him! Reach out to Him! Trust Him! His plans are so much bigger than our intervention can muster! He is so much grander than we could ever imagine. As the unpredictability of life hits, and you are seemingly spinning out of control, reach out, not for control, but for the hand of the Father. God is good, no matter the outcome.
God did not cease to be good the moment the plane hit the World Trade Center. God did not cease to be good the moment that Hurricane Irma slashed into the coast of Florida. God did not cease to be good when Harvey brought floodwaters to Houston. God did not cease to be good in Las Vegas when gunfire rang out at a music festival. God is good no matter the outcome.
The second truth is that the world doesn’t honor godly wisdom and truth.
Ecclesiastes 9:17 tells us, “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” The shouting of this generation and culture is against the truth of the Lord that we serve. Today’s culture does not honor the words of our God nor honor a life lived by God’s standard. When we speak, preach, and write what the Bible says, we shouldn’t expect for the world to accept it, like it, or honor it.
John 15:18-21 reminds us, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Beloved, Jesus didn’t redeem us to be polite and quiet citizens, but to be those who proclaim boldly the excellencies of the Kingdom of God.
The third truth is that sin’s foolishness can outweigh a life lived in wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 10:1 says, “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” Precious follower of Christ, be on guard from the deceitfulness of sin. Our sinful and rebellious acts can and will outweigh our righteousness. We are living in a world marred by sin. It shouldn’t surprise us when sinners act like sinners. The world is always looking for the flaws. We are in a battle and Satan wants to discredit us by tempting us with the folly of sin. But don’t forget the sweet grace of Jesus that will conquer our sin today and will once and for all reverse the course of sin that has polluted this world.
Remember the words that Peter said in 1 Peter 3:13-15 “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone whoasks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Let’s speak the name of Christ and guard ourselves against sin.
The fourth and final truth is that we live in a world that is marred by sin and is groaning for redemption.
When tragedies, accidents, hurt, despair or death happen in this fallen world we realize that these are just marks of a fallen world. These are the marks of a world that is groaning for the redemption of its Creator. So, despite how much we may plan, we cannot safeguard against disappointment and hurt. So because we can’t create a perfect life free from harm, let’s risk all of the fleeting pleasures and use all of our energy for the sake of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a fallen world—to all nations, tribes, tongues, and people.
If God is calling you to adopt, to foster, or to get engaged on behalf of the life of an orphan, you will risk your life, your comfort, your plans, and your family; but Christ and His commands are worth it. We risk it all to make the gospel of Christ known to vulnerable children and to manifest that gospel to a watching world.
Our hope doesn’t exist in this life; it’s not in this kingdom. No, we don’t exist to build this kingdom, but we exist to build the kingdom of God—a kingdom that cannot be destroyed by terrorism, hurricanes, flood waters, or pain.
Beloved, are you ready to stand in the gap? If so, Lifeline Children’s Services stands ready to put you to action. Are you called to adopt or be a foster parent? Apply today. Has the Lord burdened you for pregnant women and broken families? We need mentors. Is your heart burdened for the scores of orphans around the world? Get engaged from your home or on a trip with (un)adopted. The battle lines are forming and we need your help.
Will you partner with Lifeline today? Visit Lifelinechild.org/give to donate to the cause; to apply to adopt; to sign up for a trip to visit orphans in need through our (un)adopted ministry; to apply to be a foster parent for a child in U.S. foster care; to volunteer in one of many ways for the sake of orphans; and ultimately to partner with us as we seek to take the gospel to the fatherless.
O, Beloved, will you allow God to use the gospel through you to impact the life of a child? Please do not hesitate to give Lifeline a call because we are here.
To defend the fatherless,
Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc.