Friday, June 17, 2011

Having eyes to see God in it all

It's true that bad things happen to good people, and so often that leaves us with unanswered questions and a struggle to find God in it all. But I'm struck with how often the Bible says that the adversity or affliction that God's people experience is actually from God. Isaiah 30:20 says, "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher." James 1:2-3 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." Though it doesn't explicitly say there in James that the various trials are from God, it's certainly implied by the fact that those trials are described as tests intended to help us to grow. Growth is from God, and so are the tests that produce growth.

It's so valuable for me to recognize this on a daily basis. If I can see life's trials -- big or small -- as something that are often from the Lord for His good purposes, I won't be so vulnerable to offense with God if they persist. Yet so often, I find it hard to see God in the midst of trials. All I can see are the troubles. But God is there, ever wanting to teach us and ever eager to see us grow, and will always eventually reveal Himself amidst our circumstances so that we can see Him as our Teacher in it all.

I really need God's help to see Him at such times, but even if He chooses to hide Himself for a time (see Isaiah 8:17), I want to learn to approach life's difficulties with faith that God really does want to use life's troubles to help me grow increasingly steadfast as I walk in this uneven world. Only then will every problem truly be an opportunity -- for my good and God's glory!

© 2011 by Ken Peters

Friday, June 3, 2011

He moves in inscrutable ways

I often find myself trying to figure God out. Why'd He do that? Why didn't He do that? Why is He taking so long? So many "why" questions can be asked in such a tumultuous world. And so many more such questions can be aroused as we read about how God hardened some to reject the Gospel and softened others to accept it (Romans 10:20-21; 11:25; see also 11:26-27). But then I feel stopped in my tracks by the apostle Paul's response in Romans 11:33 (ESV)... "Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!"

I don't think I have ever used the word "inscrutable" in a conversation. It means mysterious or beyond comprehension. In other words, God's ways won't always make sense to us. He has mercy on some and hardens others (Romans 9:18). He creates some for destruction and others for glory (Romans 9:23). And as Christians, the Bible tells us that God ordains that we should suffer in afflictions (1 Thess. 3:3) as well as succeed in good works (Ephesians 2:10). What a mishmash! It's tempting to want to argue with God about such ways, but then I wonder who am I as such a small and limited created being to argue with such a great and infinite Creator (Romans 9:20)?

On the days when I get really frustrated with God's ways or God's timing or God's choices, I think it's really important for me to remember that I'm not God and can't possibly expect to fully grasp his ways. Like Job, I sometimes need to cover my mouth before answering God rashly (Job 40:4). Yes, God has revealed a great deal about Himself to us in His Word, but that can tempt us to think that we should always have enough data to be able to figure God out. And yet, however much God has revealed to us about Himself, we need to remember that His thoughts and ways will still always be higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), and that He will continue to move in inscrutable ways. So on those days when I'm frustrated with God, it's far better for me to simply yield to His ways and trust "the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God" than to get offended because I can't figure Him out.

© 2011 by Ken Peters