JOURNAL: I think most of us have had times when we have been disappointed with God. A time when we felt like He let us down somehow. Maybe it was due to something we wanted so badly and prayed so hard for and then in the end, it did not happen. Or maybe it was due to something we didn't want to happen very badly and we prayed so hard that it would not, only to have it roll over us like a steam roller. Maybe it was a marriage or relationship that failed or never came to be. Maybe it was the loss of job and stability, the death of a loved one or any number of things you could to plug in here that has thrown you for a loop. There is no doubt this life can be a rough place for sure. But just because these things happened, should you be mad at God…should all the blame be laid at His feet?
When I think of these kind of things, it brings to mind of a couple of different thoughts.
First, I think that much of what we get mad at God for in this life really boils down to our “freewill”…our right to choose. God has given us the right to choose this or that…too or fro…frick or frack…potato or po-tah-to and choose we do. Then when we don’t choose well and things go inevitably wrong, we blame it all on God. Do you have doubts? Try this simple example (don’t really do it…just think about it)
Get a hammer, put your hand out flat on a hard surface and then with the other hand, grab the hammer and smack your awaiting hand. Ok, did that hurt? Yes, of course it did. Did you do that with your own freewill? Before you blame me, remember, I did not make you do it, I just asked you to do it. Because you made that choice and now you will never play the piano again and must now go to the hospital…is that God’s fault? Of course not and quit saying it’s my fault! It’s your fault because you chose to do it. You could have said no and chose something else that was not destructive to you. It was your choice and you will live with the consequences good, bad or indifferent. In this example, the only thing God is guilty of is giving “YOU” freewill.
Have we not all done things that we can relate to in this way in our lives from time to time? Can we not look back and see how OUR choices took us down smart paths or not so smart paths? Did we not have the choice to go either way at every “Y” in the road? Most of the time, we probably did, when it just involved just ourselves, right? But sometimes, other people’s freewill affected our lives and we did not really have a choice in it, we were just affected by it. And if we follow that same line of thinking, all of our choices affected others too in some way, whether we realized it or not. Now we are on to something. Now expand that thought to everyone in the world and all the good and bad things that happen because of everyone’s freewill. It explains a lot of the good and a lot of the craziness that goes on in this world if we really apply it.
Next, there are those things that don’t make sense, the things that freewill does not explain. In my life, the loss of my son, Daniel, in a fire right before his first birthday is the pinnacle for me. It was THE very lowest point in my life I have ever experienced. That loss just about destroyed me. It did destroy my marriage and change my life, the life of my wife at the time and the life of my daughter, Ruthanne, in the way she grew up. But then in all that, freewill jumped back in and played a role again. You see, how I dealt with that loss was “MY” responsibility. I did blame God and I was surely disappointed in Him and it took me many years to realize that God was still God, even if I did not understand…even if there were no answers to the big WHY question. I had to come to realize that some things I will just not understand while I am still on this side of eternity and that took some time to accept as truth in my heart. And though I wasted my potential for many years being mad and not trusting God, in the end, God has used it to make me stronger and less tossed by everyday life that messes with a lot of people. In it all, I have learned to trust God even when I do not understand…even when nothing makes sense...just because of WHO HE IS.
God is very clear in His word in Isaiah 55 that the ways He thinks and does things are not anything like we think and do things. And just so we have a better chance of understanding that point, He goes on to say more. It is like He is saying, “No really, you need to listen up here…really get this.” Then He goes on to say that the distance between heaven and earth…get that in your mind…that is how far apart how we think and do things is from how He thinks and does things.
Then in Jeremiah 29 He assures us that He has plans for our lives and good ones to boot. But our problem way too often is that we think those verses mean God is joining in on OUR plans for our life when what He is really talking about is US joining in on HIS plans for our life. Those are two very different animals people…Monkey vs. Giraffe…Hippo vs. Lemur…Hamster vs. Lion kind of thing. If we can get this straight, many things in life will start making much more sense. Yes, it really is NOT about “US”. :) (monkey sounds heard in the background)
Our disappointment with God always seems to start when our belief in Him is tied into our expectations of what He should or should not be doing to us or for us or in the world in general. But as I have tried to get across, I think that is just plain bad thinking and we need an adjustment.
Looking at things from someone else’s eyes may help us grow a new perspective. To be very clear, God does not owe us anything but through Jesus, He has given us everything. He also does not answer to us and/or our expectations of Him or to our wants and whims but in His love and compassion, He does hear us and our heart’s deepest cries. Let’s take a peek into the life of Job and see if we can glean any useful insight from it. Read what kind of answers Job got when he questioned God. I will share just a little of the opening to give you a taste.
Job 38:1-11 (NIV1984)
The Lord Speaks
Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
Yes, I know…Yikes! And these were just the opening lines that go on for some time. At the end of this first round the bell rings and it says this.
Job 40:1-2 (NIV1984) The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Uh oh! This is about the time I would have been looking for the nearest exit while apologizing profusely and maybe even screaming and crying like a little girl. (In my head…yes, I know…I get the picture of the cowardly lion running down the long hall away from the “Great and Powerful Oz” crying as he goes and then jumping through the glass window) And what Job said was not far from that. These are his words.
Job 40:3-5 (NIV1984) Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”
Then the bell rang for round two and God continued on again for some time to ask him more about what he knew and did not. In the end, after the final bell, when God was done questioning him and his corner was waving the white towel, this is Job’s reply.
Job 42:1-6 (NIV1984)
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
That is a humbling response for sure but so much more than that...it is the correct response. You see, sometimes we forget that we are the creation and God is the Creator, and not only of us, but of everything we see around us. Not to mention all the things we don’t see in galaxies far past our view and all the things in the spiritual realms around us. Who are we to questions such greatness and perfection? Who do we think we are to even consider that we know better than our Creator what is best for us?
Is it so hard to understand that maybe we just don’t know…maybe just can’t really see where everything is leading in the big scheme of things? If you are parent, you have a small model to look at. How many times have you had your kids say, “That’s not fair!!!” We have made a decision as THE parent that they don’t like, don’t understand and therefore think we are mean and cruel and TRYING TO RUIN THEIR LIVES!!! And yes, that would be a “teen” example and yes, I have had a few teens. But it’s true with young children too. Mom, can I please play with the steak knives, we are playing Knights of the Roundtable and it is time for our sword fights. Not too hard to see why it would not be a good thing to give in to that request is it? I hope not anyway! :)
My point is this…we don’t have a clue how this whole thing we call “life” truly fits together. And not just in the small scheme of things of just ourselves and those around us but with everyone, everywhere and in everything…the whole puzzle put together…the finished picture…the whole shabang. But God does. He has seen it all from beginning to end.
So does that mean that we can’t or should not ask God things? Of course not, He tells us to come to Him with our needs and requests. We have an Abba Father that loves us so much and cares when we are in pain and rejoices with us when we are in joy. Will He always answer our prayers? Yes, but you might not think so unless you consider the responses of “No” and “Not now” as answers. If your 2-year-old asked you to tell them where babies come from, would you? Why not, they wanna know for heaven’s sake? Yes, it is because it is not age appropriate, not the right time and really, they have no way of understanding what you would tell them if you did.
Many times, I think it is the same with us. It is not the right time in our lives and/or we just would not understand the answer anyway. I believe that there is much that is so far above us that really, there is no way for God to show us the answers now…no way to explain it to us in a way we could comprehend. It would be like trying to explain calculus to a toddler, but much great than that.
But for now, in all answers, if we can learn to rest in the love of the One that does know everything…the One that knows the beginning from the end…the past, present and future…the One that knows what we really need and what we really do not…then, maybe we can learn to have peace in all circumstances. And yes...that IS a big maybe for us. LORD, I believe...now please help my unbelief.
Let’s sum it all up with this: We were nobody’s…who became somebody’s…because of the great love of our God who loves us more than we will ever understand as long as we are on this side of eternity. I am so thankful for that!!! God, you rock!!!
So in all that I understand and in all I do not, I trust You, God, my Creator and Great Lover of my soul and I rest in You and You alone.
David L. Wood 10/10/2012 (c)
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Hebrews 4:16 (NIV1984)
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV1984)
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV1984)
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV1984)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV1984)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.