In the Middle of the Mess

Whoever said, “May you live in interesting times,” got his wish. It’s been quite a time, hasn’t it? My wife and I have been in a self-imposed quarantine which seems to have stretched on for almost a year. We’re down to 379 rolls of toilet paper. It’s tearable. Pardon the ill-placed pun. Today I said, “Hey, look at the low gas prices!” Ramona said, “Ya, but where are you gonna go?” Good point. In times like these, perspective is invaluable.

Helmet Thielicke was a famous German preacher whose difficult life rivaled Job’s. Plagued by ill health, he lost his job for opposing Hitler. Under constant risk of imprisonment, interrogation, humiliation, and threats from the SS, he faithfully preached the good news of Jesus Christ. One day, he reached his Stuttgart church to find that bombs had reduced it to rubble. Arriving home, he found it too had been destroyed. His children were starving. In fact, he found them licking the pictures in recipe books. Imagine. Yet, somehow he stood each week behind a pulpit amid the remains of a demolished church offering hope to a demoralized congregation. This is what he said: “The one fixed pole in all the bewildering confusion is the faithfulness and dependability of God.”

Despite disorder and chaos, he found God’s purpose, telling his parishioners how one day in heaven we will say with amazement, “If I had ever dreamed when I stood at the graves of my loved ones and everything seemed to be ended; …if I had ever dreamed when I faced the meaningless fate of an endless imprisonment or a malignant disease; if I had ever dreamed that God was…carrying out His design and plan through all these woes, that in the midst of my cares and troubles and despair His harvest was ripening, and that everything was pressing on toward His last kingly day…I would have been more calm and confident; yes, then I would have been more cheerful and far more tranquil and composed.”

I’ve been praying my favorite prayer lately, “Help!” But rather than ask, “What is this world coming to?” let’s remind ourselves Who has come to this world. A Saviour. Where we find ourselves today is precisely where God has allowed us to be, and He is here in the midst of the mess. He is faithful. May we be faithful too.

Want to read more from Phil?

3 min read

Rebuilding My Greenhouse

What can we learn in the storms of life I learned about weather when I was a kid. About cold…

3 min read

Simple Resolutions

My gratitude for answered prayer My New Year’s resolution last year was to eat an apple a day. So that…

2 min read

The Gospel According to Peanuts

What you missed in Charlie Brown’s Christmas special One of the most profound books my pastor father ever brought home…