We all need a bit of encouragement each day. This world pulls us down. Wars and rumors of wars are nothing new. Scandal, fraud, and deceit are part of the human condition. It’s easy to get stuck on the bad things going on. But thankfully, the will of men and the work of evil aren’t they only forces at work in this world, which something we must remind ourselves daily.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
-Jesus of Nazareth, John 16:33
Encouragement In Dark Times
One of my favorite passages from The Lord of the Rings is the exchange between Gandalf and Frodo about the nature of the Ring. The Ring was a weapon of mass destruction built by the most malevolent being in middle-earth. Even this dark, cataclysmic power had limits:
‘There was more than one power at work, Frodo. The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur’s hand and betrayed him; then when a chance come it caught poor Deagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and send out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoneed Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire!’
‘Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you were also meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.’
-Gandalf to Frodo, The Fellowship of the Ring
The Ring could not be outsmarted. The ring could not be subverted for good. There was no one on middle-earth with the will to control the Ring’s power, save its maker as it was a part of him.
And yet, the will of the Ring and its maker were not more powerful than the One who willed that the Ring should be found by Bilbo Baggins.
Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings in a way that reflected his worldview; that’s no secret. One of the greatest themes from this work is not that the good of man will triumph (indeed, it is the weakness of man that furthers evil in middle-earth), but rather that the will of the Creator will not be thwarted or overwhelmed. That theme is a direct reflection of God’ sovereignty.
So, while the strength of our will is little compared to the Evil One, his will is nothing compared to the Lord of Hosts. If we only focus on the activity of evil, we may despair. However, the sins of this world are tiny compared to the grace of our Lord.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
The Lord preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.
We must lift our eyes higher to see our Hope. He is not in the gutter, manger, or on the cross; He is on His throne.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
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