It looks so simple – Malachi ch.3 v.6 says it in black and white – God does not change. He is a rock of stability for us to cling to in a universe of shifting shadows and storms on every side.
But there’s more to it than that. The passage tells us much more – these were people who faced trouble, but that came from their inability to keep their side of a sacred covenant.
The promise was a great deal for them – had they kept their side of the contract. Follow me, the Lord had said and I’ll bless you. Spiritually, materially, emotionally – fullness is yours for the asking. But they didn’t, and catastrophe followed.
For these people, the remedy was simple enough – as the Good Lord hadn’t moved, it was they who had strayed – all they had to do was return to him.
For us, there’s an added dimension – bad things don’t just happen to bad people. If they did, Job’s counsellors would have been praised for their depth of insight and theological astuteness. And the cross? That would be sheer folly!
We know this – and it hurts – because we can’t give glib answers to hurting people. When we face disruption, uncertainty ourselves it’s of little consolation to us that we walk in the footsteps of One who suffered far more than us. We want answers, we want resolution. We want our comfort and stability back. And it hurts us even more when we see our struggles from a divine perspective.
There is one thing we share with the descendents of Jacob to whom Malachi’s prophecy was directed. God has not written us off – in their case, it was the covenant made with their ancestors. God refused to give up on these wayward people – He would see His purpose fulfilled, whatever the cost.
For us, it’s a new covenant – made through Jesus’ unique sacrifice – once for all of us. For that reason we can be certain that this unchanging God will change His mind about us. He has declared that He will be with us, that He will work through us, He will perfect what He has started in us. Therefore it will happen.
He has not promised it will be easy or painless.
He has not promised material benefits at the expense of our spiritual health. But He has promised to meet all our needs – although the method He chooses to deliver on this promise is entirely down to Him. He is, after all, a Creator – and therefore His methods are often creative, original and unpredictable.
It seems strange to come full circle – to take comfort in the fact that we can be certain that in a world of instability we can be confident in seeing God’s provision for us through unexpected ways. But dare we pray it? Surprise us, Lord, through your unforeseen bounty – because it’s so much better than monochrome, hum-drum predictability.