The last few days, Brazil has seen moments of suffering and pain on several fronts. On the way to the South American championship, the rising Chapecoense team, along with journalists and others who accompanied them, was wiped out in an airplane crash. While Brazilians were reeling with grief over the death of their idols, in the silence of the night, Congress passed laws with tremendous consequences for the future: one curtailing the action of justices in investigating and judging dishonest politicians, thus guaranteeing that the attitude and actions of “I`ll do as I pleases” continue in this Wild West; and the other, permitting, “no questions asked” abortions until end of first three months of gestation.

In Ohio, USA, once again gunshots felled college students, spreading terror and confirming that no one is safe anywhere! All over the world we hear of tragedies—some refugees drowning, dumped at sea, situations so terrible that they are unthinkable, on their way to “freedom”—and we would rather not hear any more about it. We also hear of people who, in compassion, take in refugees and are permanently hurt by them, as has happened repeatedly in Germany and other European countries, by Muslim “refugees” who rape and kill their benefactors whom they deem “infidels”.

The Cuban dictator’s ashes are being carried around the beautiful island country that he ruled with terror and deprivation since he ousted Batista (another dictator) in 1959. I remember as a fifth grader, my classmate telling me that her father, an officer in the US Army, was hopeful that the new revolutionaries would make Cuba paradise on earth—but he got suspicious of their intentions when seeing evidences of their Godlessness.

Recently I watched three historical movies, and though I realize that fiction permeates the stories we read or watch, have to admit that history moves my present, giving both hope and confirming some despair at prospects of future grief. Over the past year, several of God’s servants whom we knew and loved were “promoted” to heaven, and their families and churches still feel pain, though they know the Lord and trust in Him. Recently a beloved pastor-teacher who taught me and Lau since the beginning of our ministry, Dr. Russell Shedd, died.

Also recently, I heard a person I love express hope in the midst of a hopeless situation in which I can do nothing but pray for her, and remembered the many times in the history of the world, in the history of God`s people, and in my personal history, in which God intervened in direct answer to prayer. A sovereign God always knows what is, what was and what shall be—YWEH is the I AM from beginning to end, even if without a beginning and in ever in eternity. Both in historical past and more recently, we have witnessed God’s presence in midst of trials. One must return to the Word of God whenever always and recently perturb our present time. Jeremiah had his fill of persecution, suffering and affliction. He said:
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is,
So I say, “My endurance has perished;
So has my hope from the Lord.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!”
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
BUT this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end,
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul,
Therefore I will hope in Him.”
                                   (Lamentations 3:17-24)

God is sovereign in time and eternity, but whether in recent or distant past, or soon or someday future, we have opportunities to do, for our own good, and the good of our fellow human, what is required of us: fear and love God, walk in His way s, serve him with all our heart and soul, keep His commandments and statutes (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). That is why, over the ages, heroes rise. I was thinking of two women heroes, one a prophetess-judge,  the other a foreign princess married to a heathen despot king. Both dared change history even if it killed them. Read the narrative of the situation after Deborah had been judging Israel under her palm tree for twenty years:
Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron ad he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time… “Up! For this is the day which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?”(Judges 4:14)

When Mordecai informed his niece of the political situation in Persia, he challenged her to act:
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? ... “if I perish, I perish.” 
                                                      (Esther 4:14-16.)

The beloved story of Purim follows, where a beautiful woman, immersed and guided by the prayers of her people, dares enter the king`s quarters and puts herself at his mercy. The God of history had placed her in a strategic place at a strategic time, and she was willing to change the situation even if it killed her. It was for such a time as that!

We are spectators in this wonderful, wicked, willful world, but we live in it, we breathe here and are part of what we watch, what we hear, what we see. There are many things in which our hands are tied and we are merely weak witnesses. But if there is something we can do to change situations where we are, none of us is immune, none can say, “there is nothing I can do!” 

What is required of us, God`s servants? Only “that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). To a Great and faithful God, we are small and our abilities are few and weak. Where have you been recently? Where are you now? Where will you be ten years from now? Francis Schaeffer reminded us that there are no little people. The Koheleth wrote: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)—for the Christian, it is not a question of “no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol”, but “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. So: “Arise and be doing, the Lord shall be with ye!” We are in this world for times such as this!

                                                                                                                                                Elizabeth Gomes

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