This morning, I sat staring at the ocean while praying. As I marveled at its majesty, I felt God say to me “see that vast, wild thing that had eluded the human need to control everything since the beginning of time? I made that, and it stops exactly where I tell it to.”
It seems to me that the more civilized we become, the more we want to control everything around us. In this modern era, we have gained so much knowledge in our quest to overcome sickness, death, and discomfort. But if there’s anything we can learn from the ancients, it’s that they recognized their lack of control in this world. That’s why they prayed to God (or gods, in the case of the pagans). But every so often, something breaks our modern illusions of control: a natural disaster, a death, etc., and it feels cruel. But ultimately, it’s God reminding us of the fact that He is in control, whether circumstances are good or bad.
Recently I’ve been reading in Lamentations, chapter 4, v. 1-13 this morning. As punishment for their sins, Israel is under siege from the Chaldeans. The temple and the people are lying in ruins. But it’s God’s discipline meant to move them to repentance. In the moment it felt cruel and un-compassionate. Israel needed a reminder of who was in control when, like Satan, their pride made them feel bigger than God. And like Satan, it caused them to fall from grace.
But the prophet who wrote Lamentations (thought to be Jeremiah but not proven) notes that the suffering can’t last forever. God DOES have compassion and will take back His repentant children. Like children who, for their own good, can’t be allowed to believe they are in charge, sometimes we need to be reminded who is in charge.
Pieces of creation like the ocean remind us who is in charge. It rolls in God’s rhythm and stops where God commands. It can’t come farther unless God allows it for His own reasons. Even when it overflows from the shoreline, leaving devastation in its path, God is faithful to return the tide to its banks. My own life is a testament to the fact that even when the waves break loose and leave destruction, God makes the devastation into something beautiful.
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