It was my privilege to speak yesterday at the 52nd Annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Louisiana. Gov. Edwards and his staff were most gracious, and the planning team did a terrific job. The music group Veritas performed—they are some of the finest vocalists I’ve ever heard.
Louisiana’s leaders are grappling with very difficult budget challenges made worse by the recent catastrophic floods. So I focused my talk on the principle that God redeems all he allows. Because he is sovereign, he must allow or cause all that happens in the universe. If he allows or causes anything he does not redeem for greater good, he has made a mistake. But he is holy and perfect, so he cannot make a mistake. Therefore, God must redeem for greater good all he allows.
We may not see or understand his redemption on this side of heaven. I don’t have to be a pilot to fly in an airplane or understand my laptop to write this Cultural Commentary. But one day we will understand what we do not comprehend today (1 Corinthians 13:12). In the meantime, we can trust our Father to redeem all he allows in our fallen world. (For the transcript of my talk, I invite you to go here.)
Does this principle apply to every situation?
How could God redeem the ongoing tragedy that is radical Islam? One answer is that the horrific extremism of ISIS and similar groups is driving multitudes of Muslims from Islam and to Jesus. As a result of ISIS terrorism in Bangladesh, lawmakers are considering a petition to drop Islam as the country’s official religion.
How could God redeem the refugee crisis in Europe? In recent days I have spoken with several groups who are planning mission trips to minister to these refugees in Jesus’ name.
What about the anti-Semitism that is rising on college campuses and across the nation? (For more, see Nick Pitts’s Anti-Semitism on the American College Campus.) Schools such as the University of California are now passing resolutions decrying such ideology, while attacks on synagogues are generating greater sympathy for Jews in America and in Israel.
Of course, the good does not always outweigh the bad in our observable present experience. But we can know that our sovereign Father is working right now for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28), in ways we can see and in ways we cannot.
When we consider the future significance of present obedience, we can say with Paul, “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
And when we remember that our Father feels all we feel, we find comfort in his presence: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3).
On this Maundy Thursday, know that the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross of Calvary always lead to Easter Sunday. As the song says, “When you cannot see his hand, trust his heart.”