Wednesday, 25 March 2020
It was Nicholas Roerich who in 1922 drew a painting titled The Last King. Empty throne. It caught my attention when I saw it in Jill Carathini's write up on Creation is Groaning in Slice of Infinity this morning.
In the middle of our predicament and distress as humans on earth, especially in times of crises as we are in currently, it is easier for some people, having looked at every corner without getting any answer, they equally look at God's direction, and all they could see is an 'empty throne'. It is as if everything is out of control and humans are running helter-skelter to lift themselves from their bootstraps without any transcendental oversight. We hear the statistics and fear grips our hearts because everybody seems to be doing trial-and-error while people are dying and being buried. Nobody has an answer. Many atheists have confessed that one of the reasons they do not believe in the existence of God is because of the presence of evils like this, though Christian apologists have taken time to give explanations like the one here. Even many Christians seem to be very confused because just two months ago, many of their prophets were declaring bogus things about the year 2020 in the name of God, but none of them saw the ravage Coronavirus would do to the whole of human community. In the middle of the confusion, they look at the direction of God and what they see, as it were, is an 'empty throne'. But nothing can be farther from the truth.
Firstly, It is an unhelpful approach to try to figure out what God looks like from the middle of a broken situation. Like Henry Blackaby said in Experiencing God, "when you face difficult or confusing circumstances, they can overwhelm you. If you bury yourself in the circumstances, you will always have a distorted understanding of God". Our experiences and feelings can change and fluctuate with time, and we cannot trust them to make objective conclusions. We must make conclusions based on information from outside of us. Philip Yancey said in Where is God when it hurts, "a wise sufferer will look not inward, but outward" towards God, who is a wounded healer Himself, in times of suffering. When we look around us, buried in the current statistics and the sufferings we and others go through, most likely, we will see an 'empty throne', as if nobody is in control; even when we see someone on the throne, it will be a distorted view of God. Hence you may say, "God does not love me" God is not fair" "God has abandoned me". But these statements are not correct. They are distorted views of God taken from the midst of our troubles. It is very important that we step out of the middle of our troubles and see things that happen around us, our circumstances and situations from God's perspective. Blackaby continues, "The Holy Spirit will take the Word of God and help you understand the event from God's perspective. He will reveal to you the truth of your circumstances. Then you can adjust your life and thinking to what God is doing".
What is it that is revealed to us from the Scriptures? An empty throne? No. "For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously". Ps 9:4 NIV. The Lord Jesus is seated on the throne with His Father even as we speak. (Rev.3:21). "He that made this world, runs it". Observe what the Psalmist said in Psalm 9 quoted above: firstly, He that sits on the throne is active in his life. God has maintained his cause and he has a relationship with Him. Secondly, God judges righteously. In the midst of any situation, what He does is righteous.
Even in the current COVID-19 pandemic, God is on His throne. Nobody else is there. We are His children. He knows that we are still here and will uphold "our right and our cause". The coming weeks are critical especially for those of us living in Nigeria. But our approach should not be that of fear and panic but that of faith and hope. Observe all you are asked to do as a person living in this human community. He will do what is right no matter what your experiences may be in all of this. His love and peace make all the difference. The throne is not empty. He sits on it and is actively working in and around our lives. He has proven over generations that he can be trusted. Remain blessed.