- Trusting His Way
His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)
In the later chapters of Genesis, after Joseph had become prime minister of Egypt, he could surely see some of the results of the affliction God had allowed in his life- but he certainly could not see them while going through it. To him the whole painful process (as narrated in Genesis 37-40) must have seemed devoid of any meaning and very contrary to his expectations of the future, as given to him through his dreams.
But whether we see beneficial results in this life or not, we’re still called upon to trust God that in His love He wills what is best for us and in His wisdom He knows how to bring it about.
I think of a dear friend who for more than thirty years has passed through one adversity after another- incredible physical problems in the family, numerous financial difficulties, and family heartaches. As far as I can tell, no apparent “good” has come out of any of these adversities. There has been no happy ending as in the case of Joseph. Yet, in a recent letter received from her, this friend said, “I know God makes no mistakes: ‘As of God His way is perfect.’”
So we should never demand that God explain or justify His actions or what He permits in our lives. Margaret Clarkson said, “We may not demand of a sovereign Creator that He explain Himself to His creatures….God had good and sufficient reasons for His actions; we trust His sovereign wisdom and love.”
When I say we should never ask God why, I’m not talking about the reactive and spontaneous cry of anguish when calamity first befalls us or the one we love. Rather, I’m speaking of the persistent and demanding what that has an accusatory tone toward God in it. The former is a natural human reaction; the latter is a sinful human reaction.
I think the favorite question of life is that of why. From a small child through adulthood we seem to focus our inquisitive questions more on why that perhaps any other question we might ask. Children wish to know why the sky is blue or the grass is green and I supposed we could present them with a detailed scientific explanation of light filtering through the atmosphere that allows us to see the spectrum of blue and the green is due to the chlorophyll in the plant. However, unless that child is a genius, that kind of answer would be so far outside their comprehension that they would go away feeling they still didn’t know why.
The Bible says that the ways of God are higher than the ways of humans. In other words, like the little children, we may not in many cases be able to comprehend God’s answer if He gave it to us. In our question of why, we approach life with an earthly view. What we know of life is limited by the scope of less than a century- a life span, but God views His plan from the view of eternity, both past and future. As an eternal Being, to whom time and space do not affect His decisions, in comparison to us that are affected and controlled by time and space, His actions are many times beyond our ability to understand.
We approach the questions of life with two means, either by the “you never question God” or “God, You have to make me understand.” Let’s look at each of these approaches and by God’s grace find a place of trust.
The idea that we accept life as it comes without question has its roots in mysticism that promotes the idea of predetermined fate. In this thinking, everything that happens to us in life has been already decided and it is our fate to be experiencing it. Let’s bring this belief under scrutiny against the knowledge we have of life from a biblical view. We know that Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and in that place they were given a test through the forbidden fruit. The fatalist would say that it was their destiny to eat the fruit and as a result being thrown out of the Garden. In other words it had to happen because God designed it that way. The Bible never teaches that they had to eat of the forbidden fruit. As a matter of fact, it teaches they did so by choice. What we learn from this is that sometimes calamity is the result of our own choices. In other words it is cause and effect. We may teach our children, for example, to not touch the hot stove, but then they do. We as their parent might wish to prevent them from being burned, but the consequence of touching the stove results in a burn and their choice to touch created the result of being burned. God has given us life instructions to follow. To choose to ignore them brings about the consequence of adversity. Further we must recognize that since we all live together in the same world, the choices of others can and will also affect us. For example, someone may choose to run a red light resulting in us being in an accident with injuries. Though we chose to obey traffic signals, they chose not to do so and we suffer not from our choices but theirs. Let me pause here and say that the consequence is always directly connected to the action. I say this because of those who might think that the person who ran the red light and caused the accident was diagnosed with cancer sometime later which was the result of their causing suffering with their carelessness. The law of consequences does not create adversity that is unrelated.
The second reason for adversity is the work of Satan as we read in the book of Job. Though it was with the permission of God, but not by God, Job suffered adversity that was caused by Satan in his attempt to push Job to break his relationship with God. The devil’s strategy is still the same. Jesus told us that this would happen to us in this life.
“I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.”
“The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
The disciples, as they viewed the blind man asked the why question. They wanted to know why was this man born blind. In their thinking, and often ours, they saw all adversity as the result of sin or displeasing God in some way and therefore suffering as a result. Now don’t misunderstand, there is those moments when we are disciplined by our Heavenly Father, but He doesn’t use or need to use adversity. In truth all He has to do is leave us to ourselves and we will create a mess by ourselves. The disciples saw the condition of the man a punishment by God and they wanted to know whether it was the man’s fault or whether he was suffering because his parents had sinned. Jesus in His reply negated both reasons and told them that this man’s condition was an opportunity for God to be glorified.
You and I may never know in this life why things are as they are. It’s not that we shouldn’t bring our questions to God. If we as humans are open to the questions of our children, how much more is our perfect Father open to our questions. What Jerry Bridges is saying is that when we have brought our question to God and especially if He has answered, that we shouldn’t be like children who are never satisfied with the answer given.
I truly believe that someday, in this life or the one to come, we will either fully understand God purpose for our adversities or it won’t matter in the eternal view. Until that moment comes, let us keep coming to God and pouring out our hearts, our pain, our hurts and our questions. Let us ask Him to help us trust Him with what we don’t yet know or understand. Let us remember that He loved us so much that He gave up His Son for us and that Son died for our sins. Let’s us find our comfort in knowing that if God has shown His love to us in such a powerful way then whatever we are experiencing has His attention and whatever we are going through, He is going through with us. I am learning to ask a different question when I’m experiencing adversity. I’m learning to ask, “God, what am I supposed to learn from this and how can this adversity bring You glory?” I may never know the why but I can choose my response. I’ve found that adversity can either make us better or bitter, and I choose better.
In every adversity we have this promise:
…..for He has said, “ I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “ The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me ?”
Dr. John Thompson