As I walked down the aisle trying to find the next item on my grocery list, I saw a familiar face. He recognized me at the exact same moment and we both smiled and walked toward one another with excitement. As I approached, I instinctively started to put out my right hand to greet him with a handshake. When my hand was halfway to him, I remembered that we were in the middle of a pandemic and handshakes were a no-no. I had already committed far enough into the handshake that my retreat from the process was graceless and made the situation uncomfortable. Attempting to recover, I smiled and clumsily waved like a shy child. By that time, my brain was in such panic mode I couldn’t think of anything to say and the silence only added to the awkwardness.
A handshake used to be simple and mindless, but now I must undo years of training and instinct to keep myself from doing it. This is a just small example of how things have quickly and drastically changed this year.
We’ve all likely noticed there’s a lot of frustration in the air. You feel it in everyday conversations, and you see it on social media. Although there are many reasons for such frustration, it’s likely that some stems from a fear of uncertainty brought about by fast-paced change. None of us like having the very ground shift under our feet. Our day-to-day life, perhaps a way of life that we have had for years, has in a matter of months been completely turned upside down.
How do we, as God’s people, react to such uncertainty? In the midst of fear and frustration, how can we exhibit to the world people who are fundamentally different? How can we draw comfort when everything around us seems to be changing? Perhaps we need to be reminded that our hope is in a God who is timeless and changeless, and then let these truths marinate in our soul until they influence how we think and feel.
NOT RESTRAINED BY TIME
In Psalm 90:2, Moses reminds us that while our lives are short, God is eternal:
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Job 36 teaches that “the number of his years is unsearchable.” Our God is not bound to time like we are. Like a circle, he has no beginning and no end. It’s hard for us to comprehend how someone can be outside of time, but God sees into all of human history. He sees what you did yesterday, what you’re are doing right now, and what you’ll be doing tomorrow all at once. I can only be in one moment at a time, but God is not limited by such restraints.
Because he is outside of time, nothing catches him by surprise. We are surprised when certain things happen and catch us off guard. One moment things are going well, then we receive that dreaded phone call or see the awful news headline and find ourselves in shock and disbelief.
Nothing happens in your life that God doesn’t already know. Tomorrow’s news headline might be a surprise to you, but even now God is already aware and is working to prepare you for it. He’s working through many things all at once to prepare you for whatever may come next week. This doesn’t necessarily make these things less shocking when they occur, but it does give us hope that God is aware and at work in the lives of his people.
UNCHANGING AND PERFECT
Scripture not only teaches that God is eternal, but he is also immutable (unchanging). Our Lord is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). In Malachi 3, the Lord reminds his people, “I, the Lord, do not change.” The fact that God is forever, he always has been, and he never changes is of great comfort to us. It might seem like lofty doctrine, but it’s foundational to our faith. Since God is perfect, it is ideal that he does not change.
Humans, on the other hand, are not perfect, so there are times when change is good. However, there are other times when our mutability can be a source of great frustration as it leads to inconsistency and an unworthiness to be trusted.
Consider how hurtful it is when someone promises to love you and stay with you forever in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, as long as you both shall live…only to change their mind years later. Such change of mind leaves you feeling betrayed and hurt. How frustrating is it when a politician tells you that if you vote for him he will do a,b and c. You vote for him and once he gets in office, he changes his position and doesn’t keep his promise.
Aren’t we thankful that a perfect God never changes?
Imagine Abraham leaving his family and his home because God said he was going to give him a new land, only to have God decide he’s going a different route. Imagine believing that through repentance and faith you can be forgiven of your sins because of Christ, only to stand before God on the day of judgment and find out he has changed his mind. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about this; because of his perfection and immutability, he is worthy of our complete trust.
TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS
After considering the timelessness of God and the brevity of man, Moses prays in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” The reality of life, as we have seen, is that it’s constantly changing and we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Such reality can be unsettling and frustrating, but coming to grips with this reality can lead us to a heart of wisdom. Our anchor in the midst of such a brief life is our God who is outside of time and who does not change.
Equipped with the truth of who God is, we can face each day with hope and security. If our hope is in our circumstances, then it will falter when our circumstances change. If our hope is in anything temporal such as relationships, position, financial status, etc. then it will change. However, believers have a hope in something much more secure and everlasting.
Are we displaying this hope to the world? If people listen to our words, if they read our social media posts, will they see that we have hope in someone unchanging, or will they see the same fear, frustration, and hopelessness as everyone around us?