God is there for us when we are ‘scattered’

Published 11:52 am Friday, February 9, 2007

By Staff
In the first verse of chapter 1 of the New Testament epistle of James we read, "To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." The context of everything James says is to a group of people who have been uprooted and "scattered." They were not settled and secure; they were in places they did not choose, with people they did not know, and all familiarity was absent.
James says two things that are relative to this difficult circumstance. First, he says in verse 2, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials." In other words, rejoice in being scattered, insecure, and unsettled.
Second, in verse 12, of chapter 1, James continues, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation [trials]." Nothing can happen to us that does not first pass through the hands of God. God has the power to prevent happenings and change circumstances, but many times He may even be the engineer of things going on in our lives that uproot and scatter us. At the minimum, He knows exactly where we are and what is going on.
The Old Testament prophet Nahum says of God in Nahum, chapter 1, verse 3b, "The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm." God uses the storms of life to test us, to strengthen us, to prune us, or to move us where He wants us to be. God is there when we are scattered.
There is some tension between the human drive to be settled and secure, and God's work to keep us dependent and trusting in Him. No matter how close to God we think we are, we are not as fervent in seeking Him when everything is in place and clicking along according to our plans. It is when circumstances scatter our security that we seek the Lord with more diligence. The only things that seem to fulfill God's purpose to make us like His Son Jesus Christ are the same kind of difficulties Jesus suffered while He lived and ministered on the earth.
Abraham was settled and secure when God "scattered" him. In Genesis, chapter 12, verse 1, God said to Abraham, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you." Abraham was told to leave what was dear to him, what was known to him, what was comfortable for him, and what constituted his security to go to an unknown place that God would show him. Not many of us would sign up for that.
The Apostles were scattered when Jesus called them from their jobs, their homes, and their friends to follow Him. Jesus had nothing to draw these people except His life and mission. None of the Apostles were ever settled and secure in the sense we think of after Jesus intersected their lives. They were used mightily to establish and spread God's kingdom, and most of them died as martyrs. God is there when we are scattered.
The One who was most scattered and remains our example is Jesus Christ. He was scattered from His home in Heaven and given by God to be the perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind. In the book of Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5-8, Jesus was co-equal with God the Father, but He laid aside His heavenly glory, emptied Himself of heavenly power, and came to live as the God-man. As a man, He humbled Himself to complete obedience to the Father, and His life was scattered by men who condemned Him and crucified Him.
As only God can gather the scattered, God the Father resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead, gathered Him to heaven, exalted Him above all, and set Him at His right hand on the throne of the universe.
Scattered? Trust God. He not only was in on the scattering, but He is the master gatherer and restorer. As God scattered Job and then gathered him to have ten times as much as before, so God is there when we are scattered and has a plan for gathering us beyond our comprehension.
Count it all joy when you are "scattered."