“"My Times Are In Your Hand"”
“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.”
One of the many unique benefits about living as a Christian is how we view personal tragedy. As we live by faith, we can affirm with David, “My times are in [God’s] hand.” The very expression “my times” is an admittance of the brevity of life (Jas. 4:14). We are subject to change and adversity. But David also affirms his fleeting life is in the “hand” of God, submitting himself to God’s control.
The sons of Korah expressed this comforting truth another way, “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10). What does it mean for us to commit ourselves to the care of God amid tragedy?
We Are Not Transcendentalists
Because we believe in a sovereign God, we are not trapped in the grip of blind predetermined forces. The Stoic philosophers Paul encountered in Athens (Acts 17:18) believed in a merciless system of unchangeable fate. They believed events were predetermined, so instead of struggling against this blind force we should simply accept things with a spirit of resignation.
This is true not just of the ancient Stoics but also of our modern day Pantheists. This blind impersonal force that directs the fate of men is really just a personification of what people call “mother nature” today. Life is a collection of individual cells making up a global organism. And we are all part of one awareness not unlike “the Force” (see Star Wars).
Man-made spirituality like Hinduism, the New-Age movement, Qabbala, even radical environmentalism, all have a Pantheistic view of reality (Universe=deity). Nature is sacred (see Avatar) and the only way we can contact god is through nature and in ourselves. But where does this thinking lead? Like the Stoics, “Que sera sera” (whatever will be will be).
But we say, “My times are in your hand” or as David said of God in another psalm, “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me” (Psa. 139:5). It is a personal, loving God who is in control of our lives, not some blind predetermined force.
We Are Not Existentialists
Because we believe in a sovereign God, we are not ships tossed about on the sea of chance. The other philosophers that Paul encountered were Epicureans (Acts 17:18) who believed everything happens by chance. Since there is no existence before birth and nothing after death, “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). The greatest good is what brings the greatest pleasure.
The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “We are left alone, without cause… condemned to be free.” He viewed freewill as a prison. In his novel Nausea he observed life and saw the nauseating quality of existence and the meaningless drudgery of life. “Man is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.” Existentialism turns into nihilism which turns into fatalism. Life becomes devoid of purpose and value which translates into hedonistic and indulgent behavior.
So the attitude is, “Carpe diem!” (seize the day). The nihilist says there was nothing yesterday and there will be nothing tomorrow so do what you want today. Isn’t this what Jesus is saying in Mt. 6:34? No! Jesus says today matters because of what God has done in the past and what God has promised for the future. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself…” (Mt. 6:34)
Our lives are not the result of random chance with only black nonexistence in the future. Our lives matter because there is a loving God in control of all things who works all things according to His will.
We Are Clay Shaped by God
Because we believe in a sovereign God, we are being trained in the school of God’s providence. God has not abandoned His creation (Deism) nor is God a personification of nature (Pantheism) nor has God forced His will upon His creatures (Calvanism). Rather, He is orchestrating everything according to His plan and incorporates us into His plan when we obediently follow His will (Acts 17:25-28; Eph. 1:5-7).
God’s hand may be hidden but His rule is absolute. Though His hidden will may be mysterious and confusing to us, especially when we are suffering, His revealed will is clear: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:28-29)
We are being shaped, one painful experience at a time, into the image of Jesus, the perfect image of God (Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Jn. 3:2). Despite our difficult circumstances we must commit ourselves into the Potter’s shaping hands. We may feel as if God isn’t there but we must remember His hand may be hidden but His rule is absolute. He is aware of the most minute details of life on earth, even to the lifecycle of a lowly sparrow, “and you are of more value than many sparrows” (Mt. 7:11; 10:29-31).