We are not through the Covid 19 pandemic that the world became acquainted with in March of 2020, a world-wide threat to life on earth that keeps morphing into variant virus strains to this hour. We have experienced unwanted quarantines, agonizing separation of loved ones some of whom we had to bid farewell to through a glass window as their life ebb away. Those of us who are living through this now will never forget it. Those who are believers would affirm that God has given us a “graduate school” course on TRUST. We are not the first nor will we be the final generation to have been enrolled in the “crash” course. Solomon learned and taught to “trust in the Lord with all thy heart; lean not unto thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Provs. 3:5,6)
In an issue of Our Daily Bread the late Henry G. Bosch related a story about an elderly woman in England who endured nerve-shattering bombings during World War II with extraordinary calm and apparent peace. When a friend asked her how she could experience the war-time calamities with such composure, the senior saint replied, “Well, every night I say my prayers. And then I remember that God is always watching, so I go peacefully to sleep. After all, there is no need for both of us to stay awake!”
That is the kind of trust the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote “Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust.” (Ps.40:4) He confessed in another psalm “O my God, I trust in Thee….” (Ps.25:2) And, he would exhort us in Ps. 37:3 to “Trust in the Lord and do good….”
Sometimes, through forced shut-downs like we have experienced nationally and individually these past eighteen months, unexpected good can come. In 1832 the French engineer Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps was traveling on the Mediterranean Sea when some fellow passenger become sick with a contagious disease, prompting the ship’s captain to issue a quarantine order. It was of course a frustrating time for the engineer and all fellow passengers. Lesseps decided to spend the long hours of isolation in studying further the proposed development of the Suez Canal, something he had been contemplating but had not had the time to give his full attention to. So, he read the memoirs of another well known engineer who had also studied the feasibility of constructing such a water-way. Lesseps developed, during the quarantine, a detailed plan for construction of the canal which was in time begun and then completed 37 years later in 1869, an invaluable gift to the world of then and now!
Matthew Henry reminded his readers that the better we know God, the more we trust Him. Whoever knows that God is a God of infinite wisdom will trust Him further than they can see Him, Henry affirms.
“Although thou sayest thou shalt not see Him, yet judgment is before Him; therefore, trust thou in Him.” (Job.35:14) Job was able to testify that, although he could not see the purposes of God’s work at hand in his suffering “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him….” (Job 13:15)
This was underscored in my thinking in a real time incident that Ellen and I observed some 15 years ago while visiting the Calvary Baptist Church in San Francisco, then pastored by our good friend, Pastor Ron Allen. Ron’s son-in-law, Bill Johnson, at that time had a cancer in his body that was life-threatening. Bill was taking chemo at the time and on the particular Sunday morning that we were present in the service Bill testified, “How can I do anything but trust God in all of this? I’ve been telling my students for 20 years to trust God. I’d be a hypocrite now to do anything less.” That was in February of 2006 and the disease ran its course in spite of the best medical treatments and Bill died trusting God. Ron and Barb would soon thereafter move to Georgia to be involved in helping their daughter and their grandchildren cope with the big gap left in their lives by Bill’s homegoing. They all have continued to serve the God whom they had learned to trust. Augustine centuries before had uttered wise words when he said, “Trust the past to the mercies of God, the present to His love and the future to His providence.”
Back in June of 2002 my heart was sorely saddened when I read that a beautiful teenaged girl, Melissa, had been killed in an automobile tragedy at the age of 17. Melissa’s friend Lindsay had died 9 months earlier. Another of her friends, Jon, had been buried in a gravesite within 50 yards of Lindsay and Melissa. Melissa’s father, writing in a daily devotional book, wrote “How could God allow these three Christian teens to die within 16 months of each other? And how can we still trust Him? Unable to comprehend such tragedies, we cling to Psalm 139:16: “In Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me.” Once again, we are reminded that even when we cannot trace Him, we can, yea, we must trust Him. He makes no mistakes.
A story is told of a young pilot who was on her third and almost final solo flight. She had been practicing some maneuvers at 1500 feet when she lost control of her Cessna 150 and began spinning speedily toward the earth. After an initial panic, the pilot remembered her instructor’s words, “If you ever go into a spin in a Cessna 150, just take your hands off the controls. It is built to fly on its own.”
Susan shouted to herself several times, “Let go!” Finally, she pulled her hands off the controls and prepared in any way she could for what she thought would be an imminent crash landing. But seconds later, the plane began to cease spinning and in seconds returned to a level flight pattern. Having fallen a half-mile in descending altitude, the youthful pilot survived because she was able simply to “let go.”
I surmise that most everyone reading this lesson can recall a time when you to had to simply “Let go and let God.” John MacArthur said in a message that we can know how to trust God in the present by watching Him in the past. “God has already established a pattern of faithfulness.” He is and always has been a faithful God. Even “if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim.2:13)
“Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by; trusting Him whate’er befall, trusting Jesus, that is all.” (Edgar Page Stites, 1836-1921)