Word Magazine December 1960 Page 5
THE GREATEST FACT OF ALL TIME
By Very Rev. Father Michael Baroudy,
I want to discuss in this article what I consider the most challenging truth of all times. “If God be for us who can be against us.” The Christian priest today being somewhat puzzled by the complexity and the uncertainty of our time would want, naturally, to use his good offices by choosing a subject of discussing a theme which would, in some way, help his people and help him over the rough spots we at times must travel.
Life today is so constituted that a person finds himself in a tug of war every hour of the day. Life’s demands are of such a nature that he is kept on tip-toe trying to figure out some solution to his difficult problems. Read your daily newspapers and you will soon discover the trend of our daily living. There are three definite ways open to a person. He will either swim with the current and follow the dictum which says. “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” Or, he may give up in despair and say, “What is the use, or he may rise up to the occasion and say, “By the help of God, I am going to remain loyal to the royal in me, for I am sure that if God be for me who can be against me.”
Taking this statement or this text for what it is worth, we should remember that it is not a formula which we repeat in the morning and at bedtime. Trusting God is not easy — it is never easy. It is a high calling out of darkness into light. It is a challenge to each of us to know and to believe in the certainty of God, the fidelity of God and the finality of God, three aspects of God which each of us must believe and cherish.
Taking them in their respective order, we have the certainty of God. “If God be for us,” said the inspired writer. In other words, be certain, first of all, of your attitude and standing — that they tally with the Divine will so that you may be assured of the final results.
It is not easy to know the will of God in some difficult situation. Sometimes one feels doubtful whether God is interested in his affairs. We get to the point at times when we think that the more we pray, the darkness deepens. The cry of the Psalmist finds an echo in our hearts when he asked, “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercy?”
In this connection, let us remember that delays are not denials. If no answer or response is forthcoming as speedily as we wish, it is no sign that God has abdicated. We should then try to be more insistent and increase our efforts in staying close to God. Who knows but that God might be testing our faith so that it becomes stronger by learning daily, patiently, to lean on the everlasting arms.
On the Pacific Coast, there grows a gnarled and rugged tree. With no protecting shield between it and the ocean, the tree has had to combat all its life the almost continuous westerly wind which sweeps in upon it from the sea. But the opposition of the heavy winds and rains have not stopped the growth of the tree. Instead, the tree has grown daily stronger, reaching ever upward toward the sunlight though frequently blown and buffeted by the gale.
A little Dutch boy stood with his father on a boat looking at the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. In confidential tones, the father explained to the little boy the exact situation. The father did not know anyone in America; he had no friends here, no job waiting for him, and there were only a few hundred dollars in his possession. The little boy was silent for a minute, and then he asked. “What are we going to do if you don’t get a job?”
“My son, this is America,” said the father, “It was in this country that a boy, born in a one-room cabin with a dirt floor and a single candle for light, climbed to the greatest gift within the power of the American people to confer, the presidency. In a land where such a thing could happen, there must be room for a Dutch immigrant who has faith in God and is not afraid to work. There must be a place for us.”
This brings us to the second important element in the nature of the Almighty, fidelity. God is truth, faithfulness, love and fidelity. Our sincerity, proneness to wander away from Him can never change His love for us. Our wayward ways grieve Him because God cannot cooperate with us when we stray from His Divine will.
You and I become very much upset when we see flagrant wrongs, when we discover that wicked people at time are most prosperous. We grieve and with righteous indignation say, “Why will God permit such people to live, why do they seem to go from strength to strength materially, socially and politically. Our misguided wisdom ascribes injustice to God, because by comparison see some good, religious, honest, sincere people who are not faring so well. The most devastating, doubt-provoking thing is that we see many good, kind, loving and lovable people who are taken before their times, while wicked peoples lives are prolonged upon this earth. Dwelling on such ideas tends to undermine our faith. Our thoughts in this matter should be guided by the knowledge that living will be judged by quality, not by quantity, adding life to our years, not years to our lives.
So then knowing that God is faithful and will remain so despite some peoples faithlessness, it is highly challenging to us to meet His faithfulness with our being faithful to Him and to others. How foolish most of our earth-bound notions are when we doubt God’s faithfulness. I wonder many times a day at the marvelous grace of God. His loving kindness and tender mercy. Were we to consider our faltering steps, our doubting habits and manners, our insulting behavior in the light of the knowledge we possess, our stubbornness and our rebellious spirits, we feel honestly constrained to say God indeed is good.
After all, it is worth much to know, that our help is in the support which God provides, the same God who had the power and the will to make heaven and earth. Translate that into action and see what it means. When I have hard, physical work to do, God releases the necessary strength through the wonderful reserve of my own body. I am amazed at my own strength at those times. When I have mental work to do which demands alertness and insight and interpretive ability, God is present to quicken my mind. When courage flags, when my energy is drained and I am overcome by weariness, God most wonderfully restores my soul and lifts my spirit.
When my faith in goodness begins to tarnish, and I begin to wonder whether, after all, the good man receives any support outside of himself, then in the darkening moment, God’s Holy Spirit takes hold of me and prompts me to say, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Man’s darkest moments arrive when he sidesteps God; one finds himself then on a slippery slope. But on the other hand man’s brightest moments come when man feels within his soul his deep need to the Eternal Spirit. When the cry of the songwriter becomes his very own. “The Lord is my strength and my song, and is become my salvation.”
Come further and let us consider another aspect, the finality of God. God is revealed to us in the Scriptures that He is not only the Author but also the Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and Omega, the Supreme Judge whose will and words are the final authority, and from whom there will be no appeal.
We are living at a time in human history characterized by confusion and indecision. We strain our ears to catch what this or that leader has to say. We seem to think that their words are final because they are in a position of authority.
Therefore, the confusion is becoming worse confounded. The reason for that is our thought-life is at fault. If the individuals, the families and the groups which compose the bulk of this great nation of ours could or would have its thinking clarified by the reassurance that God still lives and that the final word is with Him, what a difference it would make! God’s voice would be heard in our inner conscience saying to us, “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted in the earth.” It will sustain, and undergird us morally, mentally and physically when such fear-defying faith becomes central in our thinking. An iron-clad faith, fear free, that is, free from doubts, skepticism. and infidelity will be adequate for this or any other time and shall, by God’s help triumph over all difficulties, then we discover that we are becoming more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
The voice of God is heard saying through the Prophets. “Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth. fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Surely God is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silent before Him.
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen…