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“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.”

(Psalm 31:14-15)

King David realized he was subject to change and adversity but, by faith, he entrusted his fragile life (Jas. 4:14) to the unchanging “hand” of God. This comforting truth finds expression in Psalm 46:10: “Cease striving and know that I am God." What does it mean for us to commit ourselves to the care or “hand” of God?

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.

But where does this thinking lead? Like the Stoics, we might say “Que sera sera” (whatever will be will be). But by faith we can say instead, “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 Paul encountered in Athens 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. But this view turns freewill into a prison. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “We are left alone, without cause… condemned to be free.” In his novel Nausea, observing the nauseating quality of life, he said, “Man is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.” Existentialism turns into nihilism. Nihilism turns into fatalism 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. But Jesus says today matters because of what God has done in the past and what he promises to do in the future (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 BEING 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 he a personification of nature (Pantheism). But this does not mean he has forced his will upon us (Calvinism). Rather, God is orchestrating everything according to his plan and incorporates us into his plan when we choose to follow his will (Acts 17:25-28; Eph. 1:5-7). Though his hidden will may be mysterious and confusing to us (Deut. 29:29), especially when we suffer, his revealed will is clear and comforting: “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…” (Rom. 8:28-29)

As we live by faith, we are being shaped, one life experience at a time, into conformity with the image of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Jn. 3:2). Despite our changing circumstances we must commit ourselves into the Potter’s shaping hands. Though there are times God’s hand may seem hidden (from our perspective) his rule remains absolute. He is aware of the most minute details of life on earth, even down to the lifecycle of a lowly sparrow, “and you are of more value than many sparrows” (Mt. 7:11; 10:29-31).

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