The following article recently appeared in Adventist World written by Executive Editor Bill Knott.
From Fear to Awe (Part I)
“When we were children, it seemed sometimes that we controlled the world.
“We held stubby fingers up before our eyes, and beloved family members disappeared—but only for a moment.
“We laughed, and a roomful of adults stopped all their busy talking to laugh uproariously with us.
“And when we cried, the world ceased all its normal turning, for people rushed to hold us, clean us, comfort us, or feed us.
“We prayed for lost kittens and puppies, and (mostly) they came home. We prayed for the safety of those who went to share the gospel, and they returned with tales that validated all our prayers.
“There was, we thought, a straight connection between our actions and the happenings around us. When we were good, the sun broke through the clouds. When we were angry, churlish, selfish, mad—things only went from bad to worse.
“Bicycles or cars broke down on Friday afternoon because we hadn’t adequately prepared for Sabbath. Friendships ruptured because somewhere, somehow, there was a sin we never had confessed. In the universe we knew, good things happened to people who made wise and good choices. Bad things—terrible, unspeakable things—were waiting for those who lived without the law. Because we finally learned that ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’—not us, not me—we wondered if the fire that burned the barn or the accident that broke a wrist was somehow heaven signaling us of our lost innocence and poor choices.
“But then there come events so cosmic and so vastly scaled there seems no way anything in us could be the cause of them. National economies slide into debt, and currencies are devalued. Corruption reigns where justice ought to sit, and all our moral compass seems reversed. A terrorist attacks an oil lagoon 10,000 miles from where we live, and suddenly, we find it difficult to fill the fuel tank.
“Wildfires rage and icebergs melt. Hurricanes and typhoons spin across vast oceans, targeted, it seems, on just those places where the misery will be greatest. Coral die; species disappear; and coastal cities watch their gleaming towers succumb to rising seas.
“A great pandemic sweeps the globe—carrying off the righteous and the uncaring, the faithful and the atheists. Neither age, nor health, nor race, nor wealth protect us from a tiny enemy we cannot see. And with each COVID death of one we know, of one we love, we lift our weeping eyes to heaven and murmur in our grief, ‘Don’t You care if we perish?’
“The storms of everyday existence in the twenty-first century are real enough, and we have come to realize that there are larger, darker forces as their cause than anything we did, or any choice we made. ‘For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Eph. 6:12, RSV). Like overtired and fearful disciples clinging to a sinking boat, we wait impatiently for rescue: ‘How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?’ (Ps. 13:1, NRSV).
“And there, in the stern of our boat, lies the One in whom we have been taught to trust, sleeping the imperturbable sleep of innocence and faith.”
Next week, Pat’s Chat will contain Part II of From Fear to Awe.