Though the world around us may be shakingA. Turner
Though the darkness rolls in like a flood
We will fix our eyes on what’s unchanging
Standing on the truth of who you are
Not even now are You defeated
Not even now are we alone
Not even now are you less than almighty God
Not even, not even now.
Autumn is the best time of year. Ever since I was small, I have anticipated the season with eagerness.
Autumn holds memories of raking giant leaf piles with my sisters, the smells of dying pumpkin vines and corn stalks in our garden, bike rides up and down the notorious hill in our old neighborhood. Eating pies and caramel apples (before I became allergic to apples). Thanksgiving with cousins, making pilgrim plays and racing around the woods. Leftovers for days.
For the past three years, I have missed Autumn entirely. I have spent it in Haiti, where the seasons vary little. I came back to sweet smells replaced with biting winds, cold nights, and frosted over windshields.
Though not the same, this time of year still holds some of my most precious memories in Haiti–when little Julinsky took his first steps at 15 months after a long battle with malnutrition and the day Nelson asked me to marry him.
This Autumn is different. The world is shaking. Circumstances are uncertain, plans crumbling like dead leaves. All those fond times seem strangely far away. Like a dream. I have woken up to a new reality that is harder than those joy-filled days I so treasured. The ground is trembling. It is a dizzying fight to stay upright.
The world suffers from loss of life attributed to the virus and the harmful effects of developing cures. I have been in a season of frequent and unrelated illness myself, with more hospital visits and medical expenses than the entirety of my life previously.
In the US, some feel the new restrictions threaten their freedoms. There are growing rifts in relationships and churches because of it. Choosing sides creates friends and enemies simultaneously. A choice, which should be just a choice, turns into much more.
In Haiti, our freedoms disintegrate at a breathtaking speed. There is no government, no enforced law. Gangs are in control of the cities and major roads and spreading into rural areas. Kidnapping is normal. Food prices and building materials are skyrocketing. All gas distribution is at a standstill. Motorcycles and vehicles sit parked for weeks on end, and the hospitals have shut down many services. People are desperate to leave.
Everything is changing. Normalcy is a common word now. We rarely used it until we lost it. The very foundation of our lives is crumbling; all the news is negative these days. Danger lurks at every turn, little remains stable, nowhere is safe. The facade of safe Christianity is finally falling away in much of the world. The church is coming to realize who is really of the faith and who is not.
I heard a Christian complaining about the government enforcing mandates the other day. They said, “They must think we are dumb sheep or something”. I thought, “That’s it! That is exactly it.”
This person meant to say that we are not sheep and not to be so easily pushed around. The truth is we have forgotten that we are sheep–we are sheep, and this world is full of wolves. We should anticipate these trials. Satan is roaming about, seeking to devour. We were never promised a safe and comfortable life with our full rights here. If we expect that, then we don’t know our Lord.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.John 16:33
Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword (or kidnappings or sickness or vaccines)? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.Romans 8:35-37
These times are trying–I am convinced–because we have not yet learned endurance. We don’t live above our circumstances. We are attached to our comforts. We love our choices more than our neighbors. Christians, our feet aren’t meant to be planted here on the shaking soil of a fallen world, but the rock of His faithfulness. All the trials we face now are building something. Character. Dependence on Him. Slowly, if we lean on Him, we will learn to rejoice even as the layers of comfort are being removed.
I will run in fear at the slightest trial if my hope is in being safe, comfortable, and healthy. My faith will be shaken like the leaves on the trees if I set my hope on never experiencing the effects of sin in this imperfect world or holding on to my freedoms
That is not where I stand! I stand on the high ground unmovable. Where, despite the darkness right now, I can see afar off a light dawning in the distance. The Lord will come. He is coming, as He has promised.
For He will come like a rushing stream… a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those… who turn from transgression…Isaiah 59:19, 20
When all the plans I have for my life crumble and shatter into pieces on the ground, when the darkness feels thick and all around is bad news and worse news, then I remind myself of who Jesus still is, despite all that my circumstances are not. Not even now is He less than God. God, the one who created all of this, and holds the world in his hands. We fix our eyes on the only one who is unchanging.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.Isaiah 40:28
In the end, all pain and suffering will cease. None of this compares to the unseen joys which are coming for those who endure to the end. Take heart. Though earthquakes and wolves ravage this world, God holds us in safety. Though we suffer losses here, one day we will go home, where sorrows cannot follow.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:17, 18
I hold on to these truths. I remind my husband of them when personal loss feels overwhelming and when regret is heavy. I remind him while his country is becoming an unfamiliar place, no longer the home he once loved. He reminds me while on a hospital bed, in a strange place. He reminds me while I weep on the floor because we have so little for the staggering need at our doorstep. And when we spend months sleeping at other houses with no place to call our own, when I am on a flight home without the one who is my home.
We must remind each other to never forget. God is not defeated. Choose to stand on the one who is unchanging with the seasons. To rise with Him on the high ground of spiritual wholeness not based on circumstance. To look into the distance and see the light coming. With the sound of a rushing stream. He is coming. Fix your eyes on the horizon.