To say it again, the scene in Bag End where Gandalf confirms the identity of the One Ring is not only pivotal for this book and its subsequent volumes, but it is important to understanding all of Middle Earth. Tolkien reminds us here that though things seem to be falling into place coincidently, there is a great power at work. It is a lesson that Christians should take to heart.
Gandalf explains to Frodo that the Ring has made its way to Frodo, and this indeed isn’t by any random chance. He says, “There was more than one power at work…” The Ring’s journey from the finger of Sauron to the hand of Frodo was a long and many-storied one. Gandalf recounts this story, and then makes one of the greatest statements in Tolkien’s Middle Earth canon. He says, “Behind that there [Bilbo finding the Ring] 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 also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.” Frodo’s answer is simple: “It is not.”
We understand this. Of course, it’s not a comforting thought to think that the great Ring of power that the greatest evil in the world will stop at nothing to posses now lies in your hand. That’s quite discomforting by my estimation. However, Gandalf convinces Frodo that he is the one to carry the Ring to the supposed safety of Rivendale, and that is what he beings planning.
What about for us? We regularly receive news like Frodo receives here, but not as plain and usually not directed at us. Just today, for instance, I read that North Korea bombed South Korea. That’s scary news to be quite honest. There is nothing comforting or encouraging about that. The thought that our country could be at war with a country that has near-infinite manpower is disheartening and frightening. Other news that we hear regularly is something to the effect of, “Family of 4 gunned down” or “Two teenage girls missing” or “Earthquake kills hundreds.” What comfort can there possibly be in the world where bad things seems to rule the day and the only good news we receive is the news that the bad things are over. Good always seems to be fighting evil and doing just enough to keep up. What is the answer?
Jesus said, “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He also said, “Therefore do not be anxious…but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” How can he get away with saying such things? Was there not turmoil in his day? Surely, the threat of Roman attack was always present, as was the threat of disease and famine – things that we have a much greater handle on today than the ancient people then had. Frankly, I’m surprised those people ever stepped outside their door. How can he make such claims and seem so calm? Because Jesus Christ is God Almighty – He is, He was, and He will always be. He created all things and all creation gives him glory. Nothing happens outside his sovereign hand. He is never surprised by anything, nor is he thwarted in his efforts.
John Newton, a famous Christian hymn writer wrote, “When life sinks apace, and death is in view, the word of His grace shall comfort us through, not fearing or doubting, with Christ on our side,
we hope to die shouting, “The Lord will provide.” (Though Troubles Assail Us) What great words from a man who had many troubles assail him over his life. This isn’t to say that bad times won’t come. They will. However, we worship a God who is in control and cannot stop being in control. All that happens, good, bad, or ugly, happens because that is how he ordained it. He is “the power at work” that we cannot understand, but we must trust. All that He does, whether we understand it or not, he does for his own glory and for the good of those who love him. That is an encouraging thought.