READ: Deuteronomy 13-15, Psalm 57, Luke 13, 1 Corinthians 13
The biblical optimist realizes that Scripture has a fairly dim view of unredeemed man. Man is prone to wander, humanity tends to self-destruction, this world is decaying, and though God’s people remain as preserving salt, trouble will increase until Jesus returns in glory. Wheat and tares will grow until the end, but Jesus is coming back because man has made a mess of things and will continue to do so. In this milieu of a troubled world decaying, terrible things will happen. When bad things happen, we need to be careful to ask the right question. Jesus’ point in Luke 13:1-5 is startling. Essentially, Jesus is saying we all deserve to be tortured and have towers fall on us. The question is not why bad things happen to good people. The point is that we all deserve tragedy and the real wonder is why good things happen to us, wicked as we are.
While it is true that sickness is a bondage of Satan (Luke 13:16) and evil does manifest itself against us in diverse ways, it is also true that in select cases (for the glory of God and for the gospel of Jesus Christ) we embrace and even pursue what is difficult. When Jesus was warned to flee Herod, he reminded that old fox that resurrection was the destiny and the cross a necessary way point. We, too, must press on towards our Calvarys. In the event that we are the hunted and evil is the aggressor, the Scriptures give us hope. Psalm 57 tells of being swallowed up, set on fire, hunted by spears, stabbed with sharp swords, nets set for our steps, souls bowed down by assault. Evil does hunt us – doggedly. In these moments we have essential recourse.
Take Shelter. We make our refuge under the shelter of His wings until the calamities pass us by (Ps. 57:1). There is a land of Goshen. There is a place of quiet rest. There are times when we are covered and protected; there are moments for wise withdrawal and waiting out the storm in some protected place.
Stay Steadfast. At other times our shelter is the presence of Jesus, and we experience His dynamic reality in the course of prison, suffering, sickness, loss, and grief. In these moments His love in us helps us not be provoked, not think evil, bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things (1 Cor. 13:4-5, 7). Love is magnified under pressure. Love from above holds us steady in tragedy. The real proof of the people of God is the love that comes out of us when we are crushed.
Sing. When hunted, it is unsettling to our pursuer when we sing. Who sings, who praises as they flee for their life? Who whistles in the night when the monsters close in? Singing under pressure does two key things in the spirit realm: it declaws the enemy (he does not know how to handle the one who praises Jesus under duress) and it magnifies the Lord. God is exalted above the heavens and gloried above all the earth when we sing while we are being hunted (Ps. 57:11).