A number of years ago, I lived and worked in a small volunteer center in the south of Russia. A week before Christmas, a snowstorm blew down the main power line for the whole region. Nobody knew how long the blackout would last, as the repair crew had to wait for the weather to clear before they would be able to reach the affected area up in the mountains and fix the cables.
Technological developments can help us understand a bit more about God and how He manages His affairs. For example, prayer can be illustrated by the cell phone, used to immediately communicate with someone on the other side of the world. Computers are capable of storing and processing every bit of a company’s information. This helps us understand how God knows us so well that the Bible says that even our very hairs are numbered.1
Victor was a carabinero, or police officer, stationed at the remote Chilean customs compound known as Los Libertadores, high in the Andes on the border with Argentina. Since Victor had received special training in mountain rescue work, he was usually assigned to dangerous areas like this one. He enjoyed the mountains, but missed his family.
Over forty years later, this episode from a holiday in Scotland is still vivid in my mind. That morning, my friend Adrian and I set out from the youth hostel in Fort William, intent on climbing Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain (1,344 meters [4,409 ft]). We were a pair of adventurous teenagers and brushed off warnings from the locals that it was not a good day to climb.
Every year, a month or so before Christmas, I used to go to the same office to renew my visa. My visit there was usually made easy by the help of Judy, one of the office staff.
One year, after several minutes of small talk, Judy burst into tears. Her husband’s cancer had returned—he had already had one tumor removed from his liver—and his doctor said he didn’t have long to live. “Thomas is only 42,” said a tearful Judy, “and our two sons are so young!”
For years I nearly always closed my Meditation Moments radio show with the words “God is still on the throne, and prayer changes things!” Someone once wrote in and said, “I don’t find those words in the Bible.”
No, they’re not in the Bible, but they’re certainly scriptural and express an important truth.
When someone suggested that I try to be thankful even in bad situations, it seemed impossible. I was familiar with the biblical admonition to “be thankful in all circumstances,”1 but it had never dawned on me to take that literally. Was it possible to have a thankful disposition and to vocalize and act on it, even when things were at their worst?
A retelling of 1 Kings 17:8–16
“Have you something for me to eat, something to drink?” the unassuming stranger asked. “I’m weak from hunger and weary from my journey. Please, I beg you.”
My heart reached out to him. I felt the same hunger pains. Zarephath, where I lived, was like wherever this man had come from—in the grip of famine. I too was weak and weary. I too needed someone to rescue me before I perished.
Jude: Jesus, a new road lies ahead of me. I’ll soon be moving to a new situation, making new friends, doing new things, and probably making new mistakes. I’m essentially starting a new life for myself and my family. The immediate future worries me. I have questions, and I need some specific answers.
Jesus: Ask away.
Jude: It says in Your Word, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”1 How much will I need to rely on You to supply, and how much will I need to rely on good old-fashioned elbow grease?
Hot air whipped through the open windows as we drove north along a narrow Mexican highway toward Monterrey. There was a stark beauty in the expanses of dry fields on either side of the road, broken only by an occasional tree or house, but the sweltering summer heat and the hum of our van’s motor were beginning to take their toll. My son Shawn and I fought drowsiness. Four fellow volunteers were already asleep in the back of the Volkswagen van. The back highways in Mexico are notoriously narrow, and this long stretch had no lighting or firm shoulders, making night driving even more unsafe than under more “normal” conditions. We were anxious to reach our destination before dark.