Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
October 5th, 2022
“Cast your burdens on Jesus, for he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
I’m sure you have many times been where I have, when the discouragements, difficulties, stressors and sadnesses of life seem to overwhelm us to the point of despair. This past week hasn’t by any means been the worst of those, but several contributing factors have definitely confluenced to make it a tough week.
During those times, naturally, I want to communicate to the Lord about it. And I’m so glad to have him as a resource to run to! I, frankly, don’t know how atheists, agnostics, and the like “soldier through” life without going to the sweet place of peace, acceptance, and unconditional love.
I frequently yearn to hear from God: to get specific advice for my problems! “Just reveal to me your will, Lord, and I will do it!” And while, of course, spiritual impressions, counsel from Spiritual friends, dreams, and even an audible voice are all in God’s toolbox to use, for the most part, God chooses to remain silent. For sure, sitting with us, comforting and consoling us through the issue(s), but choosing to not directly intervene.
At such times, obviously wanting to hear from God, I turn to the Bible: His primary method of communicating with humanity. The Bible is profound! The eternal truths applied and contextualized to our time and place never cease to bring out great blessing and insight.
But again, you can probably relate with me on this: the Bible doesn’t always speak direct advice to the crises we face in our daily lives. “I want to know about your will for a relationship, or a job opportunity!” And we open the Bible to see a description of the Israelites battling with the Assyrians. “I need counsel on what path to take regarding medical intervention!” And we open to see a passage on something like beasts fighting each-other in prophecy.
In my current personal Bible reading plan, I’m currently in the middle of Job, a dense chunk of many chapters harping on suffering and asking questions of God’s justice throughout. My current issues, while causing some angst, have nothing to do with personal health or family suffering (for which I thank God), and so I was like “Man, Lord, this isn’t relevant to me in my needs right now!”
And then I had to pause for a minute and humble myself. First of all, I have to respect the fact that God didn’t write the Bible for exclusively me, or even "us", he wrote it for all humanity throughout all periods of history! So of course some passages aren’t going to be relevant to me right now. To package in 1200 chapters something that will speak to all cultures on all continents throughout all periods of history is a seemingly impossible task! Yet God has done it.
I also had this thought: God is more than happy to hear from us. He wants to know our trials, our struggles, our victories, and our defeats. He is fully willing, through prayer time, to hear us talk about our agenda at any time. He will listen sympathetically, patiently, compassionately. He will love us despite our shortcomings, our sins of commission and omission, our weaknesses and our cowardliness. He is wonderful to accept us as we are, to soothe and heal, to forgive and embrace us despite our faults and failures.
But when we open the Bible, we put ourselves on God’s ground, to speak His agenda. I should not expect or demand that the Bible be tailored to me, I must submit myself to it as acknowledging that this is what God wants me to know for living and navigating life.
Many parts are counsel for how to walk according to eternal principles. Many parts are accounts of how God came through for his people through the ages. Many parts are predictions, divine assurances, of what will come. The fact that the majority of prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled is easily verifiable confirmation for us that His word is indeed sure.
So, between the two, prayer being us talking to Him, scripture being Him talking to us, it makes for a two-way street in which true, authentic, communication is being accomplished. Yes, it may at times feel like the two routes of communication are “talking past” each-other, but if we are eager to receive as willingly as we are trusting that God is hearing our prayers, I hope we would see reading scripture as an epic opportunity to see life from God’s eyes, His perspective.
So, I had to humble myself in regards to grumbling about the Bible. We are fortunate to have it! As the Apostle Paul confirms: “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
So: God does want to hear from us: help us, walk with us in our issues, all of it. But he also wants to speak to us on his terms. And the desire to do the one does not negate the necessity of the other. We are fortunate to have this arrangement: let us never get discouraged in it. God has truly given us all we need to navigate life on a daily basis, and to acquire a knowledge sufficient for salvation (1st Timothy 2:4, 2nd Timothy 3:15).
I pray a blessing for you and your families for this week and beyond, May God bless you and keep you, ‘till we meet in person once again.
Pr. Mark Tatum