God is not wringing His hands right now crying, “What am I going to do?” He is sovereign and He knows what He is doing. We don’t have to know the reasons for it. We simply have to know that he is good and trust Him. In short, we need to know the biblical doctrine of God. We need to know theology, and we need to trust our Father.
. . . and I feel fine.
Anyone reading this who, like me, was in high school or college in the 1980s will likely know that these are some of the lyrics to a song by the band R.E.M. The catchy song was released in 1987. I don’t know whether the song had any specific meaning, but it expressed well the anxiety of that time. My generation, like several before it, grew up during the Cold War. We were constantly bombarded during our formative years with the threat of nuclear annihilation (“Duck and Cover”).
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War, there was a period of relative peace in many parts of the world (not all), but then came September 11, 2001. Another source of anxiety, international terrorism, entered the public consciousness in the West. As I write (June 2020), the world is experiencing a pandemic and the economic fallout of that pandemic. On top of that, my own country is experiencing widespread civil unrest. My country is also experiencing cultural shifts that are causing many Christians concern.
Most of us don’t have a lot of control over the kind of things that are happening in the larger world around us, but what we have to remind ourselves as Christians is that God does have control, complete control. Not only is He in control, but all of what is happening is also part of His plan. God is sovereign. God is not wringing His hands right now crying, “What am I going to do?” He is sovereign and He knows what He is doing. We don’t have to know the reasons for it. We simply have to know that he is good and trust Him. In short, we need to know the biblical doctrine of God. We need to know theology, and we need to trust our Father.
As Christians, we need to think about what we are communicating to our lost neighbors when we join them running around, wringing our hands, and panicking like Chicken Little over the latest news report. What we’re communicating if we do that is that we really don’t believe that God is sovereign and in control of all things. Why should the world listen to us if by our words and actions (online and elsewhere) we are telling them that it isn’t really true?
In addition to theology, specifically the doctrine of God, another thing that has always helped me when these kind of events happen is the study of history. Written history, in one sense, is just the result of people recording (with varying degrees of accuracy) things in our past that were also part of God’s plan and under His sovereign control. So, even history is theological. At the very least, knowing a bit of history helps us put things in context.
For example, because one of my hobbies is working on my family’s genealogy, I often think about the world events that my ancestors lived through. Those born at the turn of the 20th century lived through World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, a decade of the Great Depression and recession, severe drought causing the great Dust Bowl, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. If you go back farther in history, you see that generation after generation around the world and throughout all of history have experienced wars, plagues, famines, horrific massacres, genocides and enslavement, natural disasters – sometimes on apocalyptic scales. None of what we are experiencing now is new. What is new is the ability to learn within seconds about every bad thing that is happening in every part of the world every single day.