Yes, folks, it’s a new blog post. Pardon the dust, but I hope to be resuming weekly posting again, starting with this entry.
Unless you’re living in a rather hermit-ish cave — in which case I would highly doubt you’d have internet service — you’ve heard of the protests and political instability in Egypt, and hence, in the Middle East as a whole. It’s a very serious situation, with a great deal hanging in the balance. The outcome will affect not just Egypt, but the entire world.
In times like these, speculation is abundant and opinions fly faster and harder than the blizzard that’s slamming the Midwest. Talking heads on news outlets of all sorts are trying to break stories and posit viewpoints for the sake of being able to say, “We told you so, and we told you so first.” Heads of state are, rightly or wrongly, trying to strategically align themselves to influence and benefit from whatever happens. Political factions with big ambitions are trying to turn the chaos into a door of opportunity. The powerful and power-hungry alike are jostling for advantage as a discontented and frustrated group of people are simply trying to make something go well for themselves for a change.
We at the House of Prayer have been praying for Cairo ever since the demonstrations began breaking out. I’ve felt a certain level of uncertainty, and consequently, anxiety in my heart about the situation. I of course don’t know what will happen. I have a small idea of what might happen. Yet I don’t feel like I have a very clear idea of what I think should happen. As my weak little human heart has balked at the scope of it all — things that are clearly much bigger than me and very far out of my control — I’ve felt the Holy Spirit reminding me of a verse, over and over again.
“[The Lord] changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…” (Daniel 2:21)
Seeing as I am a bit of a Daniel geek, I suppose it’s not too surprising that this verse is in my mind. The theme of the sovereignty of God is actually one of my favorite things about the book of Daniel as a whole. I love and affirm the truth of this verse. But as I’ve been praying for Cairo, and those words keep resounding in me again and again, I have to do more than just affirm it. I need to contend with the question of “Now what?” How do I, as an intercessor, respond to the sovereignty of God in this moment?
A big error that is all too easy to fall into is to shrug and go, “Well, God is sovereign. He raises up kings and removes kings. What is there to be done but watch and see what happens?” I must admit that in my initial grappling with this situation, with a very overwhelmed heart, I felt this inclination welling up in me. If God is in control anyway, and I don’t know how to fix it, and couldn’t if I did, then that means I can just let it slide out of sight and out of mind, right? I’m free to just walk away from it, knowing it will all work out according to God’s will, right?
Yeah, not so much.
We can’t use God’s sovereignty as a convenient excuse to stop caring and praying. And in many smaller, less overwhelming circumstances, we actually don’t. For instance, I see in Job that God has the treasury of snow (Job 38:22), and is thus sovereign over it. But as KC is staring down the barrel of a blizzard, you can bet I’m praying that my car stays on the road and that the electricity stays on the grid. We don’t usually have problems asking God for things like comfortably weathering a snowstorm or passing a test, but we waver when we start asking for big things like world events or for the healing of a deathly sick person. Although it’s easy to dodge praying for those things in the name of God’s sovereignty, I suspect that by avoiding them, it proves we actually have very little understanding of how sovereign He truly is.
In reality, God’s sovereignty should be exactly what emboldens us to pray all the more fervently, approaching the situation in Cairo with faith, rather than fear. The nations are raging. People who have power don’t want to lose it. People not in power are eyeing the thrones of those who are. Everyone has mixed motives, everyone is in uproar, and when it comes right down to it, nobody really knows what to do. But the thing is, there is Someone who is actually able to fix it.
While we are tempted to opine, fret, and wring our hands, let us not forget that our God raises up kings and removes kings. He is the Lord of heaven and earth who loves justice. I can almost picture Him standing over Cairo, restraining His hand, with His eyes on His praying church, saying, “I know what I want to do. I am able to do it. Will you ask Me? Who will be with Me in the longings of My heart?”
In fact, Daniel — whose same voice declared God’s power over kings — Daniel himself dove into prayer for that which he knew full well that God already wanted to do. Almost the entire chapter of Daniel 9 is his earnest prayer for God to fulfill something He promised through Jeremiah, twice. Daniel recognized that the seventy years of Jewish exile was at an end. He knew that God changes times and seasons. This was not too hard for the God who spoke the world into being. This was not by any means beyond the power of the Almighty One. But instead of taking that as license for complacency, Daniel seized on it as empowerment for intercession. If God could do it, and God wanted to do it, then that was all the green light Daniel needed to contend in prayer to see it happen.
God doesn’t want passive spectators of His activity on the world scene. He wants partners. He doesn’t just want nodding heads; He wants engaged hearts. We must not forget that He will substantially restrain His activity if we refuse to lift up our weak and imperfect petitions to Him (James 4:2… “You do not have because you do not ask”). We can come before Him in confidence that He is not shaken by the turmoil in Cairo like we may be. Things are not spinning out of His control. He is not at any sort of loss about what to do now. He is able and desirous to not just bring peace, but to bring justice to the land of Egypt. Let’s agree with His sovereignty and start asking for His will to be done — not as a disinterested acquiescence to the circumstance, but as an eager expectation for His mercy, grace, and justice to be poured out over that region.