Let’s begin with some good news: First responders at the Surfside condominium tragedy are receiving hundreds of homemade cards from children. One note said, “Dear First Responders, thank you for everything you did and are doing even tho some people have not been recovered you guys are working day and night to find those that are missing that’s what makes you guys hero’s.”
So far, nearly five hundred similar notes, crafted by children of all ages from near and far, have been hand-delivered to first responders at the scene of the collapse. Hundreds more are expected to pour in as the search for victims continues.
The idea began with Florida state Sen. Lauren Book, who returned home from visiting the site and had to explain the tragedy to her four-year-old twin children. They wanted to help, so they spent the day at their dining room table with crayons and construction paper, creating about fifty cards. Their mother brought the notes to the site the next day, handing them to any first responder she met. Many of them cried instantly, she said.
She then posted the idea on Twitter, asking for children to mail in similar notes of encouragement. Cards have been delivered from around the country.
Death toll from COVID-19 passes four million
People obviously need such encouragement today.
Eighteen more bodies were recovered from the rubble Wednesday as the search of the collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, turned from a rescue effort to a recovery operation.
The global death toll from COVID-19 passed four million yesterday, a number equivalent to the population of Los Angeles. Japan’s prime minister announced a coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo this morning as organizers consider banning all spectators from the Olympics.
The Washington Post reports that “America’s workers are exhausted and burned out” after fifteen months of pandemic-related stress. Axios notes that many Americans are responding to such stress by drinking more alcohol—a lot more for some—even though the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism warns that alcohol-related death is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the US.
Reflecting the stress of recent months, an American Psychological Association survey found that 61 percent of US adults experienced undesired weight changes since the pandemic began. And experts are calling the ransomware attack that began over the Fourth of July weekend a “landmark event” that could lead to future “disruption on an absolutely massive scale.”
“He is our actual hope”
Where can we turn to find the best source of strength and peace in these hard days? The answer would surprise most people in our secularized culture.
MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, recently made headlines when she and her current husband made a $2.7 billion donation to several groups. She included several progressive Christian groups but excluded evangelical ministries.
Kelly Kullberg, editor and co-author of the bestseller Finding God at Harvard, responded: “The Left is attempting to redefine the gospel, using biblical words but not their accurate meanings. If we, as individuals, no longer admit our sin, we no longer turn to Jesus. And he is our actual hope. And biblical truth yields great love for people and great progress for cultures.”
Kullberg is exactly right. The paradoxical truth is that we will not turn to Jesus as our “actual hope” unless we recognize that we need what he alone can provide. As we noted yesterday, to fear and revere the Lord is to recognize that he is the true King and Judge of the universe and to admit that we need his forgiveness, grace, and peace.
“The mind of Zeus is hard to soften with prayer”
How can we experience God in such a transforming way? The key is to see him as he actually is.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (v. 1) and saw himself in the light of God’s holiness (vv. 3, 5). Isaiah’s confessional response led to his cleansing (vv. 6–7) and his commission as one of the greatest prophets in history (vv. 8–9).
We are not to fear God as did the Greek and Romans, whose deities were capricious, sinful, and vengeful. Zeus was unfaithful to his wife Hera, Poseidon was known to foist storms and shipwrecks on those who displeased him, and Ares was feared for his violent temper. In Prometheus Bound, the Greek playwright Aeschylus (525–455 BC) said of their gods, “Many a groan and many a lamentation you shall utter, but they shall not serve you. For the mind of Zeus is hard to soften with prayer.”
Nor should we see God as a “resident policeman,” “parental hangover,” “grand old man,” or “managing director,” as J. B. Phillips notes in his classic Your God Is Too Small.
Rather, we are to fear and revere God as “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3), the one true King of the universe. The more we worship him with humility, repentance, and submission, the more we experience his perfect will and empowering presence.
When last were you awed by God?
I invite you to take some time today to experience God as Isaiah did. Read Isaiah 6 and imagine yourself in the text. See God on his exalted throne. Hear the angelic worship. Feel the foundations shaking. Smell the smoke filling his temple.
Ask him to reveal anything in your life that displeases him, then confess all that comes to your thoughts and trust him for his cleansing grace. Now surrender your life to his purpose—whatever he asks, wherever he leads, whatever the cost. And know that as you fear and revere your King, he will use your life for his eternal glory and your greatest good.
When last were you awed by God?
Why not today?