DR. PHILLIP BRASSFIELD
Over the door of the Staunton Harold Church in Leicestershire, England is this inscription:
“In the year 1653 when all things Sacred were throughout ye nation, Either demolisht or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet, Founded this church; Whose singular praise is, to have done the best things in ye worst times, …”
It is said that Sir Robert Shirley built the only church constructed in England during the Cromwellian Revolution and civil war of England in the 17th century. It was crazy days indeed as Great Britain descended into civil war. There were riots in the streets, religious conflict and controversy, and ultimately the legislative branch revolting against the executive branch of governments. It was traumatic and, I must admit, their times were not so different from these in which we find ourselves today.
Are you like me and you have felt lately like you were living in Crazy Town? And it gets crazier by the minute – a global pandemic, politics gone mad, economy out of control, accusations of sedition, and social and political unrest. Oh my goodness! There are a million, no a billion, reasons to shake your head in awe and wonder considering the absurdity of it all! But, I’m glad we serve a God who specializes in doing the best of things in the worst of times.
God specializes in forgiveness when we have failed miserably. He is a master at deliverance when we have allowed ourselves to become enslaved in bondage. And healing? Miracles are His stock in trade.
Ancient Israel discovered this, and even called God by special names that testified of His character during challenging situations. Each of the compound names for God from the Old Testament came from a place or moment of crisis! And I’ve met God is these ways too.
For example, Abraham called Him Jehovah Jireh in Genesis 22- Meaning, my provider. When faced with losing everything that meant anything to him, God provided a ram in the thicket and spared the life of Isaac. God was called Jehovah Rapha – my healer, in Exodus chapter 15 when the waters were bitter and Israel had nothing to drink, an absolute catastrophe, by the way, if you were in a remote desert area with herds and families without drinkable water. The Lord healed the waters, and at the same time encouraged the people that He would be their healer as well.
Moses built an altar in the place where God caused a great victory over the Amalekites and called the altar, Jehovah Nissi – The Lord my Victory. I have known God in this way too. I remember many moments of conflict when God’s proverbial cavalry came riding over the ridge just in the nick of time. And on it goes for Israel and for me. Jehovah M’Kaddesh – The Lord who sanctifies me. I’ve learned this in moments of failure only to be forgiven and reconciled to God by His grace. Jehovah Shalom – The Lord my peace. When chaos and turmoil and panic had taken over, He stepped in and calmed the storm in my life. Jehovah Rohi – The Lord my Shepherd. When confused, afraid and bewildered, He became my gentle shepherd to protect and guide. Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord my righteousness, The door, in some renderings. For me, He’s the way out of the ‘fun house’ of this world with its distortions and mutations. He’s been my way out when the circus of craziness showed up in my world and the 20 clowns all packed into that little VW bug seemed to climb out and scare the daylights out of me.
Jehovah Shammah – The Lord who is there. When the pain, even crisis, of loneliness attacks, He’s been my hope and my help. A God who says, “I’ll never leave you alone”, has rescued me.
Come to think about it, I, like Israel of old, have personally known God in all these ways. He deserves every title, every crown. All these names remind us that our God is the God who can do the best of things in the worst of times.