That we are living on the very verge of eternity is a cliché saying mouthed by all divines. Strange haps are occurring all about us and scenes portrayed in prophecies are rapidly fulfilling before us. Wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, natural calamities, and other unusual occurrences are becoming more frequent upon the face of the earth. It seems even calm mother-nature is upset jostling seasons out of their periods, all its elements seem to contrive against the human race. And now the Wuhan virus–COVID 19 that is ruling the world like a cruel tyrant perhaps a reminder of the popish rulers; Caesar at his apex or of Alexander the Great. Indeed these are interesting times to live in.
Well, all these are not altogether strange… there have been wars before perhaps more fierce- World War I and II, the French revolution, the Vietnamese war. They have been catastrophes before – the 1138 Aleppo earthquake, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 1931 China floods among others that have claimed millions of lives. Pestilences have been there before-Spanish flu, Bubonic plague-alias Black death .There have been famines-China 1959-1961 that claimed 30 million lives and perhaps almost every other country has been hit. Yet of all these signs announcing the second coming, I am of the opinion that “men’s hearts are failing them because of fear” is most notable.
‘Fear, he is a liar’
Fear is the unsung villain of these pandemics, the least mentioned yet the most destructive of the effects of any pandemic. And therefore not strange that today, where two or more are gathered, Corona must be mentioned- it is not just the mentioning but the despair that accompanies it. The effects of the pandemic have trickled down even to the innocent little ones in the village for they wonder why they cannot go to school anymore. Men can barely provide for their families, many have lost their jobs and are devoid of hope.
It is not just a thing of the ‘wanjikus’ perhaps for the first time even Kempinski’s Adil Popat and the sphere of hotel owners are staring desperately into inestimable losses maybe even Richard Brandson with his Virgin Atlantic or Sheikh Mansour with his Etihad Airways are beginning to tremble a bit as they contemplate on the graph of loses.
Moving a bit closer to home, is it well with you? Forget about the common ‘I’m good’ phrase that you glib every day to your friends. What’s happening at home? Is it well with your folks or beneath the silver lining of an aging smile is a dark cloud of anxiety. Maybe it has got toxic tantrums ;thrown-plates and cups being hurled. Not only an empty cupboard or fridge but also the monotony of diet are all testifying of bad times. And, what’s going on in your mind? Aren’t you anxious about the times, worried about the future? Doesn’t your heart fail when you ponder over what is next for you? Doesn’t the almost hopeless circumstance delude you? Maybe that’s not you and in that case, praise the Lord!
But let’s face it, fear, anxiety and depression are perhaps going to kill more people than COVID-19 ever will. And it is not just this pandemic alone, all about us there is more that inspires fear than hope. Take away COVID and we still have high rates of unemployment, corruption, broken homes, ethnic profiling, vitriolic politics, gender-based violence, rape, crime, and so on. Our commonplace problems are still here with us, our own homes and persons are not spared. Men are walking embodiments of fear and insecurity. Is there anything more to live for? And this is just the beginning…
We perhaps all grew up reading and listening to the heroic stories of David and Goliath, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Daniel in the den, Esther before Ahasuerus and many others. We would hear of their monumental courage, their audacious tenacity and the mighty works they wrought in the name of God and marvel. Yet today their stories and experiences look like evidence of a glorious past when God loved men, spoke with men and worked wonders through them, a time when the experiences of men were interwoven with the miraculous providence of God. Today we think of them as secular historians think of the stone age- a different people altogether and yet they were just like us. What changed?
Paul summarizes their experiences in one word – faith. They were persuaded that God is who He says He is, they believed His word, claimed His promises, embraced and confessed them even before they had them. They were fully persuaded that God was able to do what He said He would do, and He did it. They were men of like passions armed with nothing but faith yet they conquered, overcame, obtained victories and had their names permanently etched in the annals of sacred history.
So what’s different now? The last time I checked, the promises were still intact in the Bible. God is still the same, He never changes, He is waiting and willing to fulfill His promises. What now? The thing is God can only work through us in proportion to the faith we have in Him. With Him, it is not our education, culture, or personality that determines how much He can do for us but our persuasion in His ability. The more you are persuaded the more He can do for you. And there you have it!
Could it be that we have heard the heroic stories of the Bible so much that they don’t charge us anymore or rather do we just see them as ink stains on paper, some remote history about patriarchs of old to fascinate us or as accounts so well fabricated to form the sum of our creed and nothing else? Could it be that we have mastered our Bibles so much yet it hasn’t mastered us?
Cast out all your fear
Mere acquaintance with the Bible is not enough, the ability to rightly divide the word and milk out the substance of our doctrine is commendable but it is only the assimilation of God’s word in us, the innate belief of its authenticity and its applicability to our unique circumstances, then bringing it into our daily experiences that will profit us. For what will food well-seasoned with condiments benefit us if not eaten?
So the next time you read those stories do not just marvel at them but also believe that those characters in those stories could as well be you-you could be an Abraham, a Moses, a Ruth. The next time you read the promises in the Bible, remember that they could be fulfilled in you as they were in men of old if you are persuaded that God could fulfill them. The next time you bow to pray remember that you are not just offering a boon to some empty space but that you have entered into the confines of an all-powerful God who can do anything for you- anything I repeat according to His will.
Take Him at His word, be fully persuaded that He can do what He said He would do and see if He doesn’t. Heaven and earth will pass away but His word will not fail. Never. Yes, men’s hearts are failing because of fear but not us we have a living God.
The note on the last string
The famous portrait of hope. The painting depicts a harpist, a woman who at first glance appears to be sitting atop a great mountain. Taking a closer look you see that the woman is bruised and bloodied, dressed in tattered rags, the harp reduced to a single frayed string. Your eye is then drawn down to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation. Yet taking a closer look anon you see that the woman, the harpist, is looking upwards playing on her one string. I can imagine a few faint notes floating upwards, she dares to praise God, to make music on her last string.
Oh, that we would hold on to God with whatever is left of us. If we were to be left only with one string in our harps let it sound the note of faith. Hanging on only one thread, let it be that of faith. If we only had one connection left then let it be that of faith