It is interesting to read the news, filled as it is with the tribulations of men, and then by way of contrast, go for a walk on a warm spring day, observing the blooming flowers, the growing grass, and the sun as it moves through the beautiful blue sky. What a difference there is between the sorrow on one hand, and the majestic beauty on the other. There is a gentle reminder in this study of contrasts between the eternal and the temporal.
The various problems that plague mankind are very real in the moment, and they can feel very important as we go through them. War, plague, death, poverty, hunger and all the rest of the evils common to history cause us great sorrow and are legitimate sources of pain. It is easy to be overwhelmed by tragedies, both personal and communal, and to feel as if all is falling apart around us. And yet, as we consider the greater picture, the sun continues to rise, the seasons continue to turn, and the world goes on as it always has, despite our personal losses or gains.
Solomon observed, regarding this reality, “A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. (Ecclesiastes 1:4-7; ESV)”
Again, this does not downplay the importance of any given moment in the human experience, but rather serves as a reminder that there is more beyond ourselves, a greater whole that is not affected by our own personal tragedies or triumphs. The world is more than the sum of our experiences and will continue on with or without us. The eternal foundation for all that is greater is God, of whom the Psalmist once testified: “He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. (Psalm 104:5),” and then “may the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works (Psalm 104:31; ESV).”
The world is a testimony to the power of God, who made all things. As we consider the heavens, the works of God’s hands, we are moved to recognize our own smallness in the midst of it all. This becomes especially true as we consider that no matter how lasting the world appears to us, even the unchanging mountains are not as durable as the God who made them, “who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! (Psalm 104:32; ESV)” The Bible testifies: “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end. (Hebrews 1:10-12; ESV)”
It is the eternal, unchanging, powerful nature of God which allows the Christian to have hope in the face of any difficulty or trial. For we know that no matter what happens in our lives God remains the same. We can rely on Him when all else disappoints and fails. Thus, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’” and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:5, 8).”
Money, health, and even nations will disappoint and fail us. God will never fail.
The one who therefore places their hope in God above all others, obeying His word, and living according to His will can weather any storm with hope and confidence. “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17)”
So, when all the world seems to be falling apart, take a moment to notice those things that remains the same, and notice as well, from whence they came. The works of men will fail while the works of God endure. And if this is true, then if we allow God to work in us, shaping us and molding us according to His word, we will not fail, for we will be His workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus (cf. Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Though we may be social-distancing at the moment, when the moment passes, the church of Christ invites you to visit and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions or comments, we invite you to share them with us at chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.