God said that he would never leave himself without a witness. Christians often think of this in terms of preachers witnessing and telling people about God. This of course is essential, but there is far more in our world that shows us God as this verse from the Bible explains:
“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy.” (The Bible)
We live in a fallen and broken world and yet God’s presence and good character are still seen all around us: in creation, nature and his provisions.
But where do we see Him today in the middle of our situation, when there is so much suffering and death? What are the ‘witnesses’ to God’s presence?
I see Him in the myriad of examples of his grace and love that he shows everyone. God has graciously created all of us in his image and we see this demonstrated in the selflessness of the doctors in Italy willing to give their lives to protect the vulnerable, or the tens of thousands of people in Britain who have volunteered to help the NHS, or the amazing response to the Street Champion scheme in my home town of Pontardawe. People often wonder where suffering comes from, but isn’t it equally important to ask where such profound sacrificial love comes from? We bear the marks of our creator.
I see Him in the utter grief and sorrow felt by those facing the loss of a loved one. We are far more than animals. Where does such love and compassion come from?
I see Him in the awakening of souls in times of crisis. C.S. Lewis (author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) described suffering as God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world as it shows people that we need him. James (one of Jesus’ disciples) told Christians to consider it “pure joy” when we face trials as it deepens and matures our faith. Take everything else away and there is only one Rock that remains. God himself. More people have realised this in 2020 than for many a year. Where does this need for a God of comfort, peace and refuge come from?
I see Him in the 75-year-old pastor admitted to hospital with COVID-19, holding the hands of those dying around him and reading the Bible to them. A kind and gentle man helping others amid a personal storm.
I see Him in the doctor who treated the old pastor and who was devastated by his death; an atheist for years, who had never believed such hope was possible, but now believes and trusts in Jesus.
I see Him in the saving grace and love experienced by millions, like the doctor, rescued from death, destruction and despair, and given forgiveness, a relationship with God and eternal life.
I see Him in my brothers and sisters in church; disciples of Jesus, of varying ages and backgrounds, overcoming all manner of technical obstacles to carry on worshipping together, praying, weeping and rejoicing, sharing God’s blessing, and going out to serve and bless their neighbours and communities.
And ultimately I see Him in the Bible and in the Lord Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, and I can’t wait until Easter this year, when in the midst of everything we will remember the life-giving power of the death and resurrection of Jesus. He died to take the punishment we deserved so that we can know God and enjoy him forever.
There are witnesses testifying to God’s goodness everywhere. The question is: Are we listening? Maybe in this unique time in our lives, when so much else is silenced, we might find time to hear the One who cannot be silenced, to repent and turn to Him. He is there, and he sent his Son to die on the Cross so that you should not perish but have eternal life and know him personally today and forever.
Steffan Jones (Pontardawe)