Tear Gas, Tutu and Trust

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tgtatthumbWell, it’s Monday. And it has not been a great one. I needed to take my wife to the hospital this morning for a bi-monthly procedure. I stopped by my office to get my computer so that I could get some work done while I spent the morning in the waiting room. I got distracted by something, left the office, drove to the hospital only to realise that I actually never picked up my computer! Added to this was some bad news that I received on the way to the hospital. The Monday morning blues were starting to settle in.

When I got to the hospital, I connected my phone to the WiFi and logged onto the news. (After all, without my computer, I couldn’t do my work and so, hey, why not some more bad news to deepen the blues?!)

The headlines revealed that, after a weekend’s reprieve, the protesting began again at our universities—nationwide. Sadly, much of this contained the all too prevalent thuggery of violent agitators. Stone-throwing students were met with tear gas-lobbying police. Blood was shed in some places while those who simply wanted to go to class were interrupted—once again. The bravado chants of, “We are willing to die for this!” (i.e. free tertiary education) apparently outweighed the calm and quiet desires of those who simply want to finish their education—an education that both they and the government were already paying for. Not a great start to the week.

Desmond Tutu was also in the news. This weekend, he has been speaking to the issue of euthanasia and asserting that those who are ageing, like himself, should be given the opportunity of assisted suicide. He said he realises that he is closer to the “departure lounge” than to the “arrivals hall” and he would want people to show him compassion by not allowing him to unnecessarily suffer as he draws near death. The Hospice Palliative Care Association is rightly saddened by Tutu’s support of assisted suicide. And they are spot on in stating that this is a dangerous conversation. It is particularly dangerous when a man of the cloth, who is held in such high esteem by so many, pontificates about the virtues of violating the sixth commandment. (As an interesting aside, the commandment, “You shall not murder” comes right on the heels of the commandment to honour father and mother [Exodus 20:12–13]. What Tutu is arguing for would in many cases amount to what is, in effect, the murder of one’s mother and/or father. Such action is hardly “honourable,” regardless of how legally allowable it is.)

No, in many ways, at least for me, it has not been a great Monday. Until a few minutes ago when I read these words by J. I. Packer in his book, Knowing God:

In Isaiah 40 … God speaks to people whose mood is the mood of many Christians today—despondent people, cowed people, secretly despairing people; people against whom the tide of events has been running for a very long time; people who have ceased to believe that the cause of Christ can ever prosper again. Now see how God through [Isaiah] reasons with them.

Packer then unpacks (excuse the pun) the contents of this chapter. God is revealed as the one who controls all nations and all of their leaders. God views the immense universe, with its countless galaxies, as dwarfed by His majesty. It “was God who first set the stars in space; He is their Maker and Master: they are all in His hands, and subject to His will. Such are His power and His majesty. Behold your God!” Indeed, and amen!

Packer’s point is that, as Christians, we have every good reason to trust God in these difficult times and in doing so we will be hopeful rather than hopeless. He challenges our pessimism when he writes,

Our thoughts of God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of His limitless wisdom and power. Because we ourselves are limited and weak, we imagine that at some points God is too, and find it hard to believe that He is not. We think of God as too much like we are. Put this mistake right, says God; learn to acknowledge the full majesty of your incomparable God and Saviour.

I don’t know what kind of a Monday (or whatever day it is when you read this) you are having. But if you are tempted to despair, let me encourage you to read Isaiah 40. And in the midst of tear-gas, Tutu (and Trump!!), look beyond all of this and behold and trust your God.

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