Whether you are a football fan or not, you have most likely heard of the missed passed interference call at the end of the NFC Championship Game this past Sunday that effectively changed the game’s final outcome. Anyone who has seen the play (including the officials themselves) would agree that a flag should have been thrown and a penalty issued. That would have allowed the Saints to run out the clock, attempt a game-winning field goal, and secure their place in the upcoming Super Bowl. But that was not the case as the missed call left plenty of time for the Rams to tie the game at the end of regulation and later win in overtime. The officials for that night had to switch hotels due to safety concerns and harassment, and some fans have even filed a lawsuit against the NFL. New Orleans faithful are bemoaning what “could have been” and are still crying “Not Fair!”
Every one of us could name a time when we felt that life had not been fair to us. We often tell others “life is not fair,” but when it happens to us we know how hard it is to deal with. We see examples of this all through the Bible and history. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and then thrown into prison after being falsely accused of rape. Job, “a righteous man,” loses all his children, crops, barns, animals and all other possessions as Satan tries to accuse him before God. Jim Elliot and four of his missionary buddies are speared to death by the very Indian tribe with whom they are trying to share the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. When we hear of these things or experience them ourselves, we often ask, “How can this happen?”
When we endure circumstances that stretch us beyond our ability to understand, it is easy to question the goodness of God. Anxiety often follows when we view our situation as beyond our control and think, “It’s not supposed to be this way!” The truth is, we can’t have peace and also live with a preconceived idea of what everything should look like. As much as we would like it to be, peace is not found in what we would interpret to be a desirable outcome. Peace is found in a Person. The Person. Trusting the Prince of Peace is a realization that we don’t have to understand everything. It is the relief of laying aside the weight of our futile attempts to control everything and resting in the One who does control and understand everything.
In Philippians 4:7 Paul tells us that “The peace of God, transcends all understanding.” I have often thought of this as proclaiming that God’s peace is so far greater than I could ever understand, and it certainly is. God’s peace is mind-blowing. But I also think there is a sense here in which Paul is saying that we don’t find peace by understanding what God is doing, or why. If our peace is dependent on our interpretation of circumstances, then our peace will always waiver.
Our peace does not depend on what we think about our circumstances, our peace comes from what we think about our God. The writer of Lamentations spends a great deal of time rehearsing the many woes of his people, and then in chapter 3:19-20 he sums up his feelings with the statement, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” But we find where his hope comes from in the following verses 3:21-24, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.'” Notice what brings him hope – not understanding his circumstances, but understanding who God is.
A Christian author and good friend of mine once said, “When there are things that you do not know about your life’s situation, you must focus on the things that you do know about your God.
So, whether you are a New Orleans Saints fan that is having a hard time getting over the missed penalty that kept you out of the Super Bowl, or the rest of us who struggle seeing through the difficulties of life that seem unfair, let us remember that our hope is not in circumstances going our way, but in our God who holds us and our circumstances in His wise and loving hands.
Karl Stephens is our Director of Worship Arts and is a life-long Denver Broncos fan.