When trials strike and events are beyond our control, peace is difficult to come by. Job, a biblical expert on life turned upside-down, is one of my favorites. However, there was a time when his words unsettled me enough that I spent months searching scripture for answers.
He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark. Job 36:32
When Trials Strike and God Seems Absent
On September 29, 1995, I picked up my children up from school and arrived home to discover my husband was home early. Instead of the fun Friday afternoon I anticipated, he delivered the news that my father had died at age sixty-five while on a flyfishing trip.
Why wasn’t my father protected when that lightning bolt streaked through a clear, blue sky from twenty miles away? People speak of lightning striking those who do bad things. My dad was a godly, Christian man, a leader in our church, and in Bible Study fellowship. Where is God when bad things happen?
When Trials Strike Fear Grows
Already fearful after two of my parent’s homes were struck by lightning, I began to hide when storms came. I dragged my children to safety if they were outside and began a personal crusade to educate local youth sports authorities about lightning safety. I had no peace. I hid and cried whenever the lighting began.
When tragedies such as unexpected death and the COVID-19 pandemic strike, it’s easy to conclude that God is absent. However, scripture says he is an “ever-present” help in times of trouble. It says God never leaves or forsakes us. Fear grows when we fail to reconcile appearances with the truth of God’s word.
When Trials Strike God Intends that We See Him
The understanding I gained from months of studying scripture about lightning transfers to the current pandemic. Lighting comes from the very fingers of God. A woman in our church said it well. If my dad had been at the deacon’s meeting rather than fishing there would be a huge hole through the roof of the church. Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” It was God’s ordained time for my Daddy to die.
Job 37 taught me that thunder, lightning, and things beyond our understanding occur “so that all men [God] has made may know his word. He stops men from their labor.” In the same way the coronavirus has shut down our world, about 1500 people stopped their daily routine to attend my father’s funeral. They heard the testimony of his life and faith. God sometimes stops people in their tracks in order to get their attention so that they might listen to him. As Christians whatever we don’t understand, we can trust will become clear when we meet the Lord. “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Trust God’s Control
Through the years, knowing God holds complete jurisdiction over lightning has transferred to greater peace and understanding of his loving influence over every event of our lives. 1 Timothy 6:13-16 in the Phillips Translation, refers to God as “the blessed controller of all things.” Does this mean I understand the current pandemic and the people who are dying alone? Only from the standpoint that we live in a fallen world. However, I know God’s thoughts are higher than ours and his ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-11) I trust that someday we’ll understand.
The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity for the entire world to see God. We shouldn’t keep spiritual lessons to ourselves. Our faith and knowledge must be shared to benefit those around us in both spiritual and practical ways. If we deliver groceries to a neighbor in need, include a card or talk from a distance about the peace God gives when trials strike. The world needs our witness now.
© Norma Gail Holtman, April 6, 2020