Have you ever been through something when what God sends you doesn’t make sense? I’m not talking about just when you go through hard situations. You see, there are some hard situations where you can more easily see what God might be doing. And sometimes there are even Scriptures that seem to speak directly to your situation.
For example, losing a loved one. A grandparent for example. That’s hard. I hope that I’m not insensitive in saying this, but for me, I understand that they’re actually not suffering anymore. They’re with Jesus. It’s actually better for them to be there.
I’m reminded of the beautiful passage in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.[1Co 15:51-58 ESV]
Or what about a physical injury? Like Joni Eareckson Tada. God redeemed her story; her ministry has brought many many people to Christ.
But what about things where you can’t see the good? Where it doesn’t seem to make sense at all. Like losing a child or having a child or a spouse walk away from the faith. How can that be good?
I think that’s the problem with humans. We’re always looking for something that somehow works to make our life better. But what if it doesn’t make our life better? What if it’s just bad?
Paul answers that in Romans 9.
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.'” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”[Rom 9:14-26 ESV]
We say things like “God was gracious” when our loved ones were spared from a life or death situation or when things work out the way we want them to. But what if it didn’t happen that way? Would we still call him gracious? Do we think of God just like our good luck charm?
I think we see a helpful answer in the book of Job.
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.[Job 1:20-22 ESV]
Tim Keller says, “Is it possible that a man or woman can come to love God for himself alone so that there is a fundamental contentment in life regardless of circumstances? Yes, this is possible, but only through prayer.”
We forget the power of prayer. We deny ourselves the flood of grace that is available if we would just pray. Let’s commit to trusting God, wrestling with God, bringing all of our grievances before him. Let’s commit to pray.
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