Never Say Never

How many times have you used words such as “unprecedented,” “unforeseeable” and “unexpected” to describe the past three months? But looking through a wider-angle lens, I never thought I’d see tsunamis kill over 200,000 people in Asia; airliners fly into the World Trade Center; the fall of the Berlin Wall; a space shuttle explode on its way to orbit. But I’ve seen them all, and each of them brought the same surreal “is this really happening?” feeling.

Well, maybe it’s time to stop saying “never” and being surprised by the improbable, for it is quite obvious that we live in a world of uncertainty punctuated by the occasional mind-bending, earth-shaking catastrophe. This is the way the world has always been. Both sacred and secular history document watershed moments that left the survivors shaken to the core.

The Bible documents such events as:

  • The flood that killed all humanity except eight souls;
  • The incineration of Sodom and Gomorrah and its suburbs;
  • The sudden collapse of whole civilizations, such as Babylon in 539 B.C;
  • And numerous droughts, famines, pestilences and earthquakes that killed countless people.

On closer inspection, the above list reveals the punitive hand of God. In previous articles, we have noted that the present pandemic may or may not be attributable to the “wrath of God.” Without inspired commentary, we don’t know for sure. But this isn’t the point anyway. The point is, if we believe that Christ rules the world from heaven (cf. Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23), and we believe in the Creator’s sovereign right and providential power to intervene in earthly affairs, then we ought to expect the unexpected.

There is no corner of the world where God cannot reach. There is no power God cannot humble. There is no nation free of God’s oversight. There is no enemy of God’s kingdom that He cannot vanquish. The world belongs to God, and He has the right to govern it according to His divine purposes.

On the other hand, there is no prayer beyond God’s ability to grant. While the answers to prayer always hinge on God’s prerogative, God cares for us and will respond benevolently to our requests: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. ... Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:7-11)

So, pardon the obvious contradiction, never say never. Don’t try to put God in a box, for no box can confine Him. God is not limited by our knowledge, assumptions or expectations. He is God; we are not. “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab. 2:20).