Posted: December 13, 2021 in: Faith, Pain-2-Power


The world can look like a very chaotic place.  Right now, it certainly does.  Leadership is sorely lacking.  Integrity seems to be becoming scarcer and scarcer.  The economy is anything but predictable.  Nations are threatening other nations.  Many people insist they are locked in the wrong bodies, in terms of gender.  Technology is crowding out humanity.  Add Covid to the mix, and it can seem like there is no rhyme and no reason to the events unfolding and no one in sight to bring any sense to them.

The Old Testament has an answer for times like this—especially the Book of Judges.  Because all manner of horrors unfolds in Judges.  Rape, deceit, massacres are perpetrated by men who one might swear could do no good and contribute nothing to the forward momentum of goodness and decency.  Yet, that isn’t the case.  Because God, it becomes clear, is using everyone—including the deeply flawed leaders in Judges.

As Eugene Peterson, who published The Message, points out:

God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work.  He can and does work with us in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us.  God, we are learning, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people [in Judges].  If God found a way to significantly include these leaders (“judges”) in what we know is on its way to becoming a glorious conclusion, he can certainly use us along with our sometimes impossible friends and neighbors. 

Twice in Judges (17:6 and 21:25) there is the telling refrain:  “At that time there was no king in Israel.  People did whatever they felt like doing.”  But we readers know that there was a king in Israel:  God was king.  And so, while the lack of an earthly king accounts for the moral and political anarchy, the presence of the sovereign God, however obscurely realized, means that the reality of the kingdom is never in doubt.

Is it hard to believe that there is a good and all-powerful force at work behind the scenes when men and women fail so spectacularly to lead the nation?  Of course.  Is it hard to believe that there is a good and all-powerful force working behind the scenes to preserve human empathy and decency when we read the headlines we do about horrific violence and self-deception.  Of course.  But though difficult, it is not impossible to believe:  Just get up a little early and watch a sunrise.  Just think about how much you love your son or daughter.  Just look at some of the examples of heroism that still break through all the negativity on the news to reach us, from time to time.

God is still in charge.  Is he using some pretty messed up people to get us where we are going?  Sure.  That’s always been the case.

The Promised Land comes after the desert.  We’re on our way.

Dr. Keith Ablow

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