Job felt it.
Habakkuk had fleeting moments when the thought crossed his mind.
Jeremiah wondered as well.
They all had crises when they asked the question…
Is God cruel?
I know in my head that God is good, a God of love, of mercy,and of grace. He is far better to me than I deserve. I was born in sin and I embraced my nature willingly. My heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. On the outside, I have been a “good boy.” But I know the darkness of my heart – the self-centeredness and pride, the anger and vindictiveness, the lust and greed and…well, you get the picture.
I know that if I got what I deserved from God I would be in hell right now.
I know that I was saved by the grace of God and not by any merit on my part.
I know all that. I preach it. I believe it. But sometimes I do not feel it. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder, Lord, what are you doing to me. And why?
Let me tell you why I am feeling this way.
We have been facing a kind of major crisis in the Miller family recently. I made some decisions a couple of years ago that I thought made sense at the time. I wasn’t trying to be rebellious or willfull; in fact, I believed I was being smart. But looking back on it now, I can see that I ignored some warning signs I probably shouldn’t have ignored, and relied on some advice that turned out not to be sound.
I made a decision that has put us into a financial crisis right now.
I have admitted that I made unwise decisions – to God, to myself, to my wife, to others with whom I discussed this. I wish I could go back and undo what I did, but that door is closed.
A month or so ago, after I shared this problem with some friends, out of the blue two of them came to me and said, “This is not a big problem, we can help you.” I was floored and grateful – I don’t cry that often, but I was in tears as I told my wife that God had opened a door and the problem was going to be solved.
Three days later, the men came to my house and withdrew their offer of help. It absolutely cratered me – that is about as low as I have ever been. Having the clouds part for a couple of days made the darkness seem even darker.
Just as I was forcing myself out of my fetal position of depression, another solution presented itself and things looked up. Again, I dared to believe that there was an end to this nightmare that has cost me more hours of sleep than I can count.
Today, I had a phone call that let me know that this solution is likely going to turn out to be another mirage. My spirit is partly cloudy with a chance of storms!
And in the mind of my flesh, I am wondering why things happened as they did. Why did two solutions present themselves as if they were God’s provision, only to be pulled back at the last moment and leave me dangling?
And I know that I will probably never understand. God seldom answers the question why to his children. He wants us to trust him without understanding. That is exactly what I am having to do right now.
I have to hold on, to trust that God has a plan, a way out of this, or through it, or under it, or whatever.
I guess there are several things I have to remember as I go through this time when I am baffled by God’s work. These are all things I know in myA head, but have to remind my soul at times like these.
1) Serving God is about serving God not getting God’s goodies.
As much as I hate prosperity theology, I find I have a little bit of it in me at times. I think because I’m a “man of God” that he should work everything out for me. I serve him because of who he is and not what he gives me. If I forget that, maybe he needs to remind me!
After he has given me eternity, will I question his goodness because of these temporal issues?
2) God is not obligated to make everything work out in my life.
When I consider the issues I am going through with the problems Paul faced, outlined in 2 Corinthians 11, I realize that my issues are pretty minor. Paul saw hardship as a normal part of his life, while I tend to see it as an unfair invasion. I must remember that God is not obligated to smooth out all the troubled waters, just to guide me through them.
3) God purposes are not always my purposes.
I think of Peter, who out of loyalty to Jesus, pulled out a sword to protect him in Gethsemane. Think about it. Peter was trying to stop the crucifixion which was the only hope for his eternal soul. In his wisdom, preventing Jesus’ death was crucial. In God’s wisdom, Jesus’ death was God’s will.
I don’t understand what God is doing, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t doing something good.
4) My job is not to understand, but to trust and obey.
Job was never told the reasons for God’s dealings with him. He was simply told to trust in the goodness and sovereign power of God even in his confusion. My job is to trust a God I often don’t understand and to serve him whatever comes my way.
Like Job 13:15 says, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
Sometimes, we just have to hold on in the night to what we know in spite of what we feel. So, I’m going to hold on to the goodness of God when my mind is confused, my heart feels betrayed and my flesh is weary.
And one of these days I will be able to testify here – either of God’s provision or his sustaining grace.