Understanding: Dallas Willard

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9

“For most of us, the thought of a life without lack is unimaginable because we live in a world so obviously full of lack — lack of kindness, fairness, and compassion, all of which are more precious because they seem so rare. So much is going wrong all around us: injustice, oppression, natural disasters, broken relationships, perversity, selfishness, pride, and apathy, so much pain that it seems we would need to block it all out and pretend that all is well to have any hope for a semblance of safety and sufficiency. Yet it is not pretense we need, but understanding.

We live in a world under the care of a wholly good God with unlimited power, who lacks nothing and intends only good for His creation. Why, then, is there so much lack and evil? What has gone wrong? Many people believe that the source of these problems rests with humanity alone but we must acknowledge the activity of Satan here. His presence in the world accounts for the seemingly unlimited extent of human wrongdoing that goes far beyond what humanity (made in the image of God) would generate on its own. He has humanity in his grasp through the ideas, beliefs and bastions of wickedness he has developed throughout history, and he intends to keep them there. He works in the realm of the heart and ideas, in their individual as well as social forms, to control the major structures and processes of human life upon the earth.”

Dallas Willard (1935-2013) in Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2018) 67-68.

A great gift we can give to people during a plague is understanding.

We must help them grasp that God is sovereign and that He sends plagues to get our attention and call us to a place of humbling ourselves, confessing our sins, and changing directions (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

But we must also alert them to the fact that much of the evil and havoc in the world, the lack that exists around us, largely links to the devil, the father of lies who leads many astray (John 8:44).

This is where we find our purpose. When people have understanding they can navigate the storms of life. To do this we must tune out the noise and attune to the Word of God in order to help others stand firm in the faith.

Listen to the challenges of those around you and show compassion by giving understanding generously.