Encouragement From The Word

He’s got the whole world in his hands…right?!

The political tension that exists in the Ukraine these days reminds us that the world is not exempt from turmoil that results from everything from greed to InHisHands5political or religious differences. For a while – in the west – it seemed that we had been experiencing relative peace.

Times like this are good times to remember the truth of the old children’s song: “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” We teach kids this little ditty and get them clapping, but do we honestly believe it’s true? Do we believe that God has the whole world in his hands?

Many people find it hard to believe. They look at the world around them and see war and injustice, and they think it would hardly be possible for God to have the world in hand when there is so much going on that would not please God. But does that mean God is not caring for the world?

We do not always understand God’s plans for the world, or for us. The divine mind is infinitely greater than we can grasp or imagine, so God’s plans for the world, likewise, are beyond our understanding. Not that God’s plans would include war or injustice; but can we believe that whatever human freedom exists can be leveraged for God’s greater purpose?

You and I see things going on in the world that anger us, frustrate us, even scare us, if we’re honest. But in the midst of that, can we trust – trust – that God has the whole world in his hands? That God cares infinitely more than we can grasp or imagine?

It can be challenging to let God be God and trust him with the world’s turmoil. Of course, God invites us to work for justice so that his world can more closely reflect his heavenly Kingdom. But if we can, in faith, say, “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” and trust God for the present and the future, that will free up any preoccupied space in our minds to reflect on how we can serve to make the world a place that shows forth God’s reign and realm.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation” (Psalm 145.8-9, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Ropes of kindness and love

Back when you were in nursery school and kindergarten, do you remember how the teachers kept everybody together?  In my day, anyway, it was with the rope.  Typically, the teacher would hold the front of the rope, and a parent or a helper would hold the back of the rope, and in between would be a series of knots in the rope, and each student was required to hold on to the rope near one of those knots.  That way, everybody stayed in line, and everybody was accounted for.

Most of us were pretty excited to ‘graduate’ from walking along beside the rope.  When you’re in kindergarten and some older kids pass by, it can seem pretty embarrassing.  It probably wasn’t really all that embarrassing – instead, it was something that kept us all safe.

I don’t know about you, but when I consider that image, I can still feel the prickliness of the rope.  Can you?  Teachers never used the silken ropes – just the jute ones, or something like that, making you feel like you were holding on to a sack of potatoes.  It was prickly, but it kept us safe.

I thought of this image when I read Hosea 11.4 in my devotions this week:  “I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love.  I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him” (NLT).

The book of Hosea is a book depicting the covenant faithfulness of God in pretty poignant ways (the prophet is enjoined by the Lord to marry a hooker – do I have your attention now?!).  In spite of the people’s unfaithfulness to God, he constantly and continually sought them out and redeemed them.  He led Israel along, as the Scripture says, with his ropes of kindness and love.

Our teachers’ knotted ropes were ropes of kindness and love, too – whether we chose to see them that way or not!  They used those tools for our safety and protection.  Likewise, the Lord protects and guides us, perhaps with ropes invisible.

Think about the times when you have been protected and cared for when you thought you were done for:  perhaps losing control on a highway covered in black ice, or something like that, when you were able to regain control.  The Lord led you with his ropes of kindness and love.

Sometimes, his ropes of kindness and love do feel prickly, though.  We sense that being under divine guidance and discipline is not the most comfortable thing ever.  But it is for our good.  God knows what is best for us, and his guidance, as we hold the proverbial rope, will keep us in his care.