“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it…The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever…Hast thou not known? hast thou 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.” – Isaiah 40:5,8,28
“And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” – Luke 24:31-32
It’s funny. When I was younger, I wanted to be a journalist. In my mind, I had this romanticized idea of the exciting life of a news reporter. Some thirty years later, my perspective on the news is quite different. I’m struck not only by the endless talk of tragedy, but by the sad realization of how much trouble the world is in, when left in human hands.
In Luke 24, Jesus’ followers are still reeling from His death at the hands of their local leaders. Mary Magdalene and the women have returned from His grave with stories of angels and an empty tomb, but the reality of the resurrection hasn’t taken hold yet. Verse 11 basically tells us that the men thought the women were crazy (“their words seemed to them as idle tales”), and although none of them had an explanation for the empty tomb, none of them believed that Jesus could actually have risen from the dead.
In Verse 12, Peter goes to the tomb to see for himself, but he still can’t wrap his head around what’s happened. Two of the men leave Jerusalem and set out for the village of Emmaus (about 7 miles away). Not surprisingly, they are troubled by the events of recent days. The cause that they had built their lives around now seems hopeless, and their pain seems pointless. As they talk of the tragedy, a stranger joins in (Verses 15-16). He appears to be completely unaware of the local news, and as they fill Him in, they can only talk about the trouble wrought by human hands (Verse 20).
But in Verse 25, Jesus starts to explain the same events in a completely different light. He takes their 6 o’clock news account and puts it in the context of scripture, prophecy, and God’s plan. For these two disciples, it is an eye-opening experience, as their sorrow is intertwined with sovereignty. The pain of the crucifixion doesn’t go away, but it loses its senselessness in the light of God’s sovereign plan and prophecy fulfilled. This sad story is not simply the work of human hands – it is a stitch in time, as the Unseen Hand of God weaves His purpose through even the most horrible of events. And because those are the same Hands that first formed the world, and will one day make all things new again, the story is not over (Genesis 50:20, Job 19:25, Psalm 18:2, 25:20, 90:2, Revelation 21:5). It does not end on a hopeless and senseless note, but with a glorious and deliberate purpose.
In Verse 31, they realize that Jesus Himself has been walking and talking with them all this time. It suddenly all clicks. He is alive. The purpose of His death was to rise again. The pain was all part of the prophecy (Isaiah 53, I Corinthians 15:3-4). Human hands were never really in control here. The Unseen Hand of God ordained and executed it all, and their hearts burned with a new understanding of Him (Isaiah 40).
Now, take your tragedy. You think you can’t make sense of it, and I dare say you never will. In human hands, the hurts of this life are pointless, senseless, and cruel. But hold your hurts up to the light of scripture, and your heart will burn with a renewed understanding (Psalm 93:1, 119:71, Isaiah 43:2, Luke 24:32). I’m not saying you’ll have all the answers. I’m not saying the pain will go away, but mix a little sovereignty in with your sorrow, and you’ll see that the story’s not over yet.
If you’re walking a difficult road today, ask Jesus to meet you where you are. But don’t be surprised to find that He’s already there, walking right beside you, and just waiting to give you a new understanding of His work in your life. Human hands are not in control here (Psalm 27:1, 56:11, Proverbs 10:22, Zephaniah 3:17). Get a hold of the Unseen Hand, and see your world in a different light.
Do not settle for a 6 o’clock news perspective of the events in your life. Get into God’s Word, and get His perspective on the things that are happening to you. He is your hope. He is in control. And He is not finished with you yet.