An Encouraging Word: "Reading Backwards"
Many years ago, Readers Digest reported that a newspaper ran the following correction: “The title of The First Christian Church program in last week’s paper was written as ‘Our God Resigns.’ The actual title is ‘Our God Reigns.’”
What a comfort it is to know that our God never resigns or retires! Rather, He is forever on His throne, rightfully ruling and reigning.
The fact that He reigns, is in control, and is sovereign is the very thing we remind ourselves in difficult times, isn’t it? This is also the comfort we offer to others when they, too, go through hardships: God is in control.
Knowing that He is sovereign gives us peace in the chaos as well as perspective in our confusion.
He is in control and is mightier than the uncontrolled chaos around us and even that which is, perhaps, raging within us: “The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty. The Lord is robed; He has put on strength as His belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.” (Psalm 93:1-3)
Oh, isn’t that true at times? Don’t the floods lift up their roaring? In fact, FB Meyer wrote, “What are the wild waves saying? As the waves of trouble roar wildly around our life, there are times when surge on surge rolls in upon the soul, and breaks with boom and roar.”
Yet, the psalmist continues: “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (Verse 4)
To an Israelite, the raging sea was the greatest symbol of uncontrollable chaos. The psalmist offered the assurance that the Lord, the One who is sovereign, the One who reigns, is mightier than even the chaos.
Whatever waves are crashing upon your life right now, whatever the waves are “saying” – whether in a whisper or in a shout – HE is mightier! He is mightier than even that which seems like uncontrollable chaos. Why? Because the Lord on high reigns! His throne, a symbol of His sovereignty, is established. What peace this truth can bring to our hearts and minds!
Speaking of the sovereignty of God, Spurgeon said, “It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were always to remember this.”
Regularly recalling and reminding ourselves that our God is sovereign affects our peace and also corrects our perspective. Spurgeon told a story of a master weaver to illustrate the importance of perspective. He described a conversation that took place when a woman entered the place where carpets were manufactured. Despite the master weaver stating one was the most beautiful carpet ever to be seen, she commented on the lack of beauty she saw. She said, “Why, here is a piece hanging out, and it’s all in disorder.” The weaver replied, “Do you know why, ma’am? You are looking at the wrong side of the carpet!”
So often we, like this woman, unknowingly look at the wrong side of the “carpet” and thus determine there is no beauty in something. We only see the disorder, the piece hanging out, the mess, and the hopelessness. We think that’s it; that’s the finished outcome, and we lose heart. We forget that we have a Master Weaver who is sovereign over every detail of life, every “loose string,” every bit of disorder and that He is still working. We must remember we are looking at it from the “wrong side.” The right side, the true side, the real side, is the view our sovereign God sees.
Luther, when on his sick bed, between groans, managed to say, “These pains and troubles here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.”
How we need to learn to “read backwards” when we can’t see what He is doing, when things don’t make sense, and when we can’t see an ounce of beauty in a given situation.
When Jesus explained to His disciples that He must suffer many things, would be killed, but would be raised to life, Peter rebuked Him and said, “Never!” Jesus replied, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23)
When we remember God’s attributes, that He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, to name a few, we can’t help but realize how small and short-sighted our perspective is. We can relate to Peter’s protest of seeing his beloved Lord suffer, while not grasping what Jesus said about the resurrection, can’t we? In that moment, Peter failed to “read backwards.” How often, we too, may fail to grasp the eternal significance and purpose of God when we try to make sense of our heartache and troubles on this side of eternity.
What peace and perspective it brings to remember our God is, indeed, sovereign. He rules and reigns over our chaos. He rules and reigns over every loose thread. He rules and reigns over every trouble and pain suffered by His children. Let us, therefore, with eyes of faith and hearts fixed upon Him, get in the habit of “reading backwards.”
With much love in Christ,