Good Friday morning ...

We live in some difficult times. The questions we raise today tell a grim story:

When will this virus end? How many people have yet to die?
When will a vaccine become available? Will it be effective?
How will our economy ever recover? When will normalcy return?
Will the unrest in our cities ever abate? Will social justice ever prevail? Is it even possible?
When will the partisanship and bickering cease in our halls of government? When will we agree to get along again?

We are all in the same boat of not knowing what the future may hold. As Christians, we are struggling to see how all things work together for good in the case of this virus ... in the case of our unsettled economy ... in the case of our divided government. We are all struggling to make spiritual sense of all this.

We need a reminder that we only see bits and pieces of God's plan. We don't have all the pieces to the puzzle. And sometimes those bits and pieces we do have don't make much sense. It all depends on where you start your thinking.

If you start your thinking with your cancer, or with your loss of a job, or with the COVID-19 virus, or with your depleted bank account ... it's hard to reason back to God.  All your focus is on how terrible it is, how everything is upside down, how horrific this is and how am I going to get through it and why did it have to happen anyway?

Instead, we must start our thinking with what we know to be true about God. Rather than starting with ourselves, with our personal situation ... we need to start with God. We need to start with what we know about His resources, His wealth, His strength. Before we start counting how bad it is for us, we need to open our hearts to what we know He has done for us and for others in the past. Before we lash out in fear, we need to look up in faith.

Be mindful of what Paul wrote: "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything." [Philippians 4:5-6]

The Lord IS near! You are NOT alone! You may FEEL alone. You may THINK you are alone. But there is NEVER a moment in which you face life without help. God is NEAR!

God repeatedly pledged His presence in the Bible.

To Abram God said, "Do not be afraid ... I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward" [Genesis 15:1] When Isaac was expelled from his land by the Philistines and forced to move from place to place, God appeared to him and reminded him, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." [Genesis 26:24] After Moses' death God told Joshua, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." [Joshua 1:9]

God was with David, in spite his adultery. He was with Jacob, despite his conniving. He was with Elijah, despite his lack of faith.

And how about this for a clencher? God called Himself IMMANUEL which means "God with us!" He became flesh. He became sin for us. He defeated the grave. And He is still with us. In the form of His Spirit, He comforts, He teaches. He is present.

Do not assume that God is watching from a distance. Dispel the thinking that God has left you all alone. You are not by yourself. You are not alone. God is with you!

With all that in mind, have a blessed weekend ...