"How can we trust when we're down on our knees, living through darkness, death and disease?
How can we trust when times are tough, when life is bleak, and things look rough?"
It was with those lines - taken from a spoken word piece - that Co-Mission Women's Day 2021 began. Incredibly, by God's grace, in the midst of another challenging and repetitive week of lockdown, over 570 women from more than 30 churches in and around London came together to worship and meditate on the sovereignty and goodness of God.
As I logged on, weary eyed and all too aware that lockdown isn’t the only thing that looks rough first thing in the morning, Gabby Samuel from Stockwell Baptist Church took to the floor. "This is something you'd probably hear at Sunday School", she jokingly began. What she meant was not a catchy song with actions, but an opportunity for all at the conference to be brought back to 3 central and elementary Gospel truths: God is sovereign (1), God is good (2) and therefore we can trust Him (3). Easy, right?
Gabby referred first to the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17. Slowly but surely she painted the picture of God's sovereign hand working in personal situations that were seemingly too messy to be deeply meaningful. The lives of women like Ruth, Mary and Bathsheba tell us of the God who is at work in uncertainty, tragedy, exile, marriage, loss, loneliness, the mundane and even death. Jesus' lineage is, therefore, a prime example of the God who is not untouched by sinful brokenness and who for all our sakes, transcended it.
During the break my discussion group rejoiced in this, but were left questioning...why, then, does knowledge of God's unchanging nature still fail to bring us peace? So often over lockdown we've read of God's faithfulness, we've praised Him for it and perhaps encouraged others with it. Yet just as often, we've questioned it and not let our hearts rest in this confidence. That is, as Gabby argued in the second talk, because we fail to realise that God is good all of the time. During interviews with women later in the afternoon who have endured times of terrible suffering, we were reminded how we don't always see this goodness nor do we always feel it. However, because of the revelation God has given of Himself in the Bible we know that He is both sovereign and good, even in the chaos and confusion.
I was struck as we ended in chorus to “He Will Hold Me Fast” that God gives us his spirit to help us abide, trust and pray each day until we see Him face to face. Now isn’t that an almighty, good God.