How do we make sense of the suffering we experience and still cling to what we know of our merciful, loving God as presented in scripture? To Pastor Lutzer the answer is this: we live by promises, not by explanations. Join us for the second to the last episode of the series “Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters: What is God Saying to Us?”
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today and we are coming near the end of the series, “Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters.” One of the things that I have learned is that God is a God of mystery. And God desires that we believe Him even when we do not understand. And one of the best examples of that is a pastor in Germany during the 17th century, that was the period of time when there was “The 30 Years War,” soldiers came through his town, a terrible plague came. Sometimes he buried up to 50 people a day in a joint service. Historians tell us that he buried probably 4,000 a year. And all that responsibility was on him because he was basically the only pastor who lived. Did he lose his faith? No, he wrote these words that you probably have heard. “Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices, who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices. O may this bountious God through all our life be nearest, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us.” We’ve all sung that song, haven’t we? Why was this pastor, Pastor Rinkart, able to put together the mystery of suffering and still have faith in God? The answer is very simple. He believed that we live by promises; We do not live by explanations.
When Martin Luther was confronted with the mysteries of God regarding predestination and all those difficult doctrines, he said, “what do we do when we are confused?” And he gave this advice. He said, what you have to do is to hurry to Jesus Christ because in Christ we see God in the flesh and we get a glimpse of what God is like that we can understand and so we approach the mysteries of God with humility.
There’s another quote I wanted to read to you from Origen, who was a man who lived many centuries ago, because the bible says that God’s ways are unsearchable. You’re acquainted with that verse in Romans 11. This is what he writes and let me read it to you even as it has been given, “Paul did not say that God’s judgments were hard to understand but that they could not be searched out at all. He did not say that God’s ways were hard to find out but that they were impossible to find out.” And then he goes on to say no matter how far we advance in understanding the mysteries of God we’ll always learn that ultimately God is inscrutable. That’s why it’s so important for us to cleave to Jesus Christ in a time when we do not understand.
I want to leave you today with a pastoral exhortation. I won’t take time to read the passage because you probably know it by memory. At the end of Romans 8, the Apostle Paul lists all of the things that you can think of that might count against God’s love for us. He mentions destitution, nakedness, peril, sword, martyrdom, he says in all these things, we are “super conquerors.” You notice that the Apostle Paul is telling us, God does not have to deliver us from COVID or any other plague, or any other disease, in order to be faithful. God’s love remains no matter what. And I want to encourage you today even as we think about these mysteries that we always have to go to God and remember and you hear it—you hear me say this many times, we have to know we actually are basing our life on promises, not explanations.
At this stage in my life, I have to say that I’ve given a lot of contemplation to God. There’s so much mystery. But I’m so thankful for the words of Jesus Christ in the 17th chapter of the book of John where He says that He came to reveal the Father and the Son and through Him, we have hope. No matter how many doubts you have today, bring them to God. He can handle them and keep on believing no matter what. Join me next time as we give the last in this series entitled, “Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters,” because once again, I’m committed to encouraging you among all of the chaos and all the uncertainties of life. See you right here next time but as for today you just go with God.