Neveah Thompson is a student at Liberty Middle School in Spanaway, Washington. She was being interviewed for a video on classroom technology, or so she thought. The topic turned to her mother, 2nd Lt. Cherie Thompson, who had been gone for seven months of military training. The interviewer asked Neveah if she'd seen "surprise military" return videos, and she said she had. Then he asked if she'd like to be in one. She quickly said she would.
At that moment, Neveah heard the door close behind her. Her mother had entered the room holding a bouquet of roses. She flew into her mother's arms and the two embraced and cried together. The fact that Neveah couldn't see her mother in the room made her presence no less real.
The video makes a point that is larger than the moving story it tells.
It's easy to be discouraged in times like these. Voters are increasingly frustrated by the presidential race. The economy may be slowing, as last Friday's bad employment report indicates. Atheists gathered over the weekend in Washington, DC for another so-called "Reason Rally." ISIS is shooting civilians trying to flee Fallujah as fighting intensifies there. There's much bad news in the news.
But here's the truth: When it seems that good is outnumbered by evil, it's not. When it seems that God is absent, he isn't. You may not see him in the room, but that fact makes him no less present.
When Syrian armies surrounded Elisha, the prophet assured his servant, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16). Then he asked God to open the young man's eyes, and "he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (v. 17).
When the king of Babylon threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace, the king would soon "see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire" (Daniel 3:25). And he would exclaim, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him" (v. 28).
When Daniel was thrown into the lions' den, he emerged unhurt because "my God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me" (Daniel 6:22). When the ship on which Paul was sailing encountered life-threatening storms, he told the crew: "This very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul'" (Acts 27:23–24). The apostle and all with him were spared.
You cannot see electricity or the Internet, but that fact makes them no less real. So it is with the presence and power of our Father in heaven. However, we must have faith to receive what our Lord intends to give. We must ask God for his protection and trust him for his provision, and then he can give his best. Faith doesn't deserve his blessing—it positions us to receive it.
Anglican priest William Ralph Inge claimed, "No Christian can be a pessimist, for Christianity is a system of radical optimism." Do you agree?
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Publication date: June 7, 2016
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