(Part 5) March 15, 2020 Sunday Sermon: Submit in Trust to the Sovereignty of God
By Pastor Robbie Casas
3) Respond positively to God’s ordaining affliction
We can accept that God ordains affliction and even submit to His reasons for doing so. But we can do this grudgingly or in a way that pleases God.
To respond positively – in a way that pleases God, I see only two ways we can do this:
Firstly, WE MUST RESPOND IN TRUST IN GOD.
As Sovereign God He is in absolute and perfect control over every circumstance in our lives, including the afflictions that He ordains.
We are never truly at the mercy of nature or of men; as those redeemed by nothing less than Jesus’ blood (1Pet 1:18-19), we are ultimately always at the mercy of our God who also is our Father (Lk 1:78; Jn 20:17). That is why though we may not always know or understand why He ordains certain things in our lives, we are commanded to “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and… not lean on [our] own understanding” (Prov 3:5). We are to remember how Job responded to his unbelievable tragedies in Job 1:21-22 (“21 Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God”)” and Job 2:10 (“‘… Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”). What a testimony of submission and trust in the Lord in the midst of a situation that was beyond, not only his comprehension, but ours as well! Of course to be able to respond this way, we must strive to view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense, to which often our “own understanding” is tied.
Secondly, WE MUST SEEK TO GLORIFY GOD AND SEE HOW THE CIRCUMSTANCE CAN BE USED FOR THE GOSPEL. Instead of fretting about the situation and, in effect, fighting the sovereign hand of God, ask, “Lord, what is the purpose You wish to accomplish in this situation? How may I glorify You in this? What opportunity are You opening to me for the propagation of Your glorious gospel?”
Recall Paul’s response to his imprisonment in Phil 1:12-14: “12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” With this kind of positive response from Paul, no wonder he later exhorted, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).
Beloved brethren, the circumstances we are all in is unique for most of us here. This is something that most here, if not all, are experiencing for the very first time. This is an event that will surely test each of us individual believers and our local church as well. And, unfortunately, barring a gracious miracle from the Lord, this crisis will not be over in the next couple of months.
My prayer is that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we would be among those who are responding both in faith and in wisdom.
To respond in faith, we must seek to be a source of biblical hope to those around us. We must not join the panicking crowd, most of whom do not know the Lord, but nonetheless continually preparing in whatever way we can to mitigate this crisis’ effects.
We must be fervent and constant in our intercession, not only for our families and our church but for our community, our nation and the world as well. We must pray fervently for all health workers in the frontlines everywhere (many have perished due to this virus). Include all those who do support work in and for the hospitals, like the janitors and garbage collectors; those who still go to work to provide basic services (banks, drugstores, groceries, utilities); those who are daily wage earners who are not able to work; those who have lost their jobs; the small business owners who have had to close down their businesses; those among our police and military forces who still have to work in all conditions, especially those manning checkpoints. We must pray for government leaders, that they all will put the welfare of our nation, our cities first before their own (many are still engaged in corruption, taking advantage of their positions, for example, to get ahead of the line for Covid -19 testing, even if they yet have no symptoms!); that God in His mercy might still guide and use them to do the right things and to make the right decisions; that they reach marginalized people in our cities with relief goods and other assistance. We must pray that no societal disorder would occur because of the rising desperation among those who need to feed their families. Of course, we need to intercede for all those who are already infected and those who are PUI’s and PUM’s, for healing and recovery.
Our intercession must very importantly include the protection of God for His church, yes, but also the opening of numerous opportunities for the gospel and, as a result, many coming to the saving knowledge of Christ.
To respond in wisdom, we must not act as those who think they are invulnerable to all of this but rather as those who might be hit by this disease any time. We must realize that we don’t want to be not only infected by but also unwary carriers of this virus. As such, we must exercise prudence in taking extra care of ourselves (fortifying our health, being vigilant regarding contact with people, following all proper hygiene protocols, etc.), being also willing to cooperate with the approved government bodies tasked to handle this crisis.
Finally, may our good and merciful Lord continue to keep us and be our help in this time of major crisis.
May His name be glorified in all this!