Letters from Neil | May 29th, 2020

July 7, 2020  |  Redemption AZ

May 29, 2020

Good morning Salties & friends,

This will be my last daily connection. This weekend I’ll begin working on the lesson for our meeting on Thursday. After our 2 sessions on the 4th which are full, I will send out the notes as we continue our study in Genesis.

I’ve been thinking about how applicable the book of Ruth is to today’s Covid-19 pandemic. That story takes place in the time of the Judges around 1100 BC. It was a dark time in Israel’s history. The last verse of the book of Judges says “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” In addition to the pervasive disobedience of the time, in the story of Ruth, there’s also a famine probably as a result of God’s discipline (Deut 11:16-17). In the midst of the dysfunction and disobedience God gives us a story that has been called the most beautiful short story ever written. It deals with ordinary people and normal matters of life. But it deals with them in such a way as to show that God is actively involved. God’s unseen hand is clearly revealed in this book. We can recognize that there’s a master storyteller behind the scenes guiding the story for the good of those who love Him and for His glory. Regardless of the circumstances God is working out His purpose and blessing those who trust Him.

If the message of Ruth could be summarized in one word it would be providence. The story gives us the sense that God is there, He cares, He rules and He provides. Providence is the opposite of chance or luck. It means that God didn’t just create this universe like a wind-up toy, set it in motion and then He hopes things turn out the way He wants. Providence is the continual care that God exercises over the universe He has created. It expresses His constant power exerted in and over all His works to fulfill His ultimate will. Even though the opening of Ruth’s story is filled with famine, death and poverty; ultimately behind the pain we see the providential workings of an Almighty God causing things to happen in such a way so as to fulfill His higher purposes.

It is no different for us today. Going through the isolation and anxiety of a stay at home order, the fear of the virus’ spread and mounting death toll we can be quick to blame God rather than recognizing He is working and will carry us through it all. Sometimes God’s providential hand moves in ways that are painful. But if we’ll trust Him, we’ll recognize that behind the troubling circumstances is a Person who loves us with an everlasting love. Because of God’s character and His omniscience, He knows sometimes it takes these challenges in order to bring good to our lives. Even in the worst of times God is laying a foundation for our good. According to Romans 8:28 God’s providence rules in such a way as to ensure everything that happens to us is working for our ultimate good. Joseph, Jacob’s son who suffered mightily because of his brother’s jealousy was able to say in Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good….” God is completely in charge of His world. His movements may be hidden but his sovereign control extends to all things. Every event in our lives including this pandemic is an opportunity to trust Him and rejoice in His goodness and providence.

Looking forward to seeing many of you Thursday, Neil