Pastoral Letter 09 Aug 2020
My dear readers,
God Always Cares!
Proverbs 15:25: “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”
The care of our heavenly Father is most needed and felt in times of greatest adversity. Living and serving in a world of global wickedness where the debaucheries are lauded and promoted as good whereas the life of holiness is disdained, God’s children need the care of their God desperately in these last days. The care from fellow believers helps tremendously, especially for those who experienced this first-hand whilst serving in church. The Worship Services, Fellowship Meetings, Prayer Meetings and Bible Studies together, followed by tea, lunch or dinner fellowship were common experiences. Fellowship like these became the way of life for many. Things seemed to go routinely well for the past forty years until this year, which no one expected. It has been traumatic and earth-shaking!
Because of Covid-19, everything comes to a halt almost immediately. It is as if the sun has stopped shining and darkness has descended and covered the face of the earth with an invisible blanket of fear that has not lifted. All human life stops. Streets are deserted. Shopping centres once thronged with excited shoppers become ghost towns. Churches are emptied by law and self-preservation. All social life ends outside of our individual homes. “Lock down” (or a more comforting semantic like “circuit breaker”) appears all over the news. In the heart of every human is self-preservation as evidenced by panic buying of all essential items, ignoring our neighbour’s welfare. For example, a deacon overseas shared that his church had to ask fellow members to donate rolls of toilet papers to help other members who were in dire need. Shelves were emptied of such essentials all across the city.
The spiritual side of the picture is just as bleak. Christians have to stand and walk alone as if they are in a prison! No one is able to hold hands when they traverse through the quagmire of uncertainty and economic turmoil. Soon the fear of job losses creeps in as the global impact of the economic downturn hits home. Faith is stretched very thin. Trusting in the Lord to provide becomes a frightful reality as the confidence that occupied the heart at the end of last year evaporates like a mist before the heat of the noon sun. Nervous trepidation has replaced confidence. Struggling to recall the promises of God compounds the emotional collapse. Each new day brings a listless despondency never felt before as aimlessness seems to become the new normal. With calamities tripping over one another in its affliction of the world in quick succession, the faith of some of God’s children may have been shaken to the point where they may begin to doubt that God always cares.
Proverbs 15:25 may help to spark the life of faith and trust into every believer’s heart. The literal translation is: “The house of the proud, the LORD will destroy but he will establish the border of the widow.”
The Proud – The proud and the widow are contrasted in this verse. The proud are usually self-reliant and wealthy. They are self-made. They believe that they have arrived at the top through their wisdom and ingenuity. Man-centred confidence leads to arrogance and pride. Their houses must be the largest in the city. Their large properties are covered in hundreds of acres of fruitful farmland and an innumerable number of livestock. Leaning upon wealth and measuring their lives according to the abundance of what they possess is their obsession. The moment this diminishes, panic sets in and confidence dips. They will try to increase their material wealth at all costs. For the proud, enough is never enough. Their heart is like the Sahara Desert and no amount of liquid wealth will be able to fill it and turn it into an ocean of contentment. But they are supposed to be the people of God living in the Land of Promise! They have a mission to a world dying in sin. The world depends on Israel to be holy to see Christ! The proud in Israel have transgressed!
The LORD will surely destroy the house of the proud. Why would the LORD do this? He does this because He cares. He wants the proud to be humbled. He wants the proud to return to holiness. The removal of the seat of his confidence will drive him back to his LORD. Is the house of the proud not the citadel of his confidence and pride? The grandeur of his house is a manifestation of his wealth and success. If the LORD shows mercy to such a proud one, He will destroy it before his death. The destruction will humble him. He has time to repent. He can still return to the LORD. This is His loving chastisement. God can very well leave the proud alone till they die in sin and find the wrath of God waiting for them. Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” The LORD chastises because He always cares.
Proverbs 15:25 warns those who are starting in life to beware of seeking wealth that leads to pride and destruction. Seek the LORD first and always.
The Widow – In contrast, the widow is despised. She is unloved and ignored. When in want, she starves. When bullied, she weeps. She sleeps alone at night. If she has a simple meal a day, it would be regarded as luxury. On most days, she would suffer hunger. The widow, like the orphan, is the reject of society. The LORD provides a social system to care for the needy. For example, the corners of the farm are not harvested. The fields are not permitted to be picked clean. The widow is permitted by God's law to pick the food from these farms in Israel as long they have the strength to do so. If they are too weak, then someone else has to do it for them, like Naomi who depended on Ruth, or else she would die of starvation. Since the widows have no one to care for them, the LORD says here that He will.
The borders, i.e. the boundaries, of their property, a paternal inheritance, will be secured by the LORD. The home of a widow is usually very basic and simple. She barely makes ends meet. To say that the LORD will establish her border or boundary means that the LORD will care for her whole property, i.e. everything in the widow’s life. No one will be able to bully her. She will be cared for thoroughly by the LORD. Safety and security will be the LORD’s doing. Food and water will be the LORD’s ample provision. She will suffer no lack. Since no man will care for the LORD’s widow, He will always care. It is to be noted that this is for the people of God, it is not applicable to every widow on earth.
Food for Thought – Either the proud or the widow, know that the LORD always cares!
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew