If you’re like me, you’ve asked “why?” a lot in this life. Why do good friends, who love God and seem in the prime of their lives and who are the backbone of their families, have to die? In the past 18 mos., two of my best friends since childhood have died. One died from a battle with cancer (45 years my best friend), and another died from what appeared to be a malpractice biopsy. Both men served Jesus. Seems they could have done more HERE. Wasn’t my call.
But what do I know about life? Having lived 67 years, I have a lot of questions that will not be answered this side of heaven. So what do I do? Recently, I confess I went through the most trying emotional time of my life. I thought I could handle it. Prior to this, I thought I had enough Word, stability in Jesus and experience to deal with this, but I failed miserably. I came apart at the seams.
However, I overcame after much grief, times of prayer and a deeper understanding of what God was after inside of me and my responses to very trying circumstances.
But the point of this blog is to answer the question “what?” not “why?” God’s plans are far beyond what we believe are “reality.” In this our abbreviated view of life, we may think we know what IS. We don’t. Romans 8:28 is obscured from our purview, since we often have no glimpse of the future, only trusting that if we love God, things will turn out for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Prophetically, we see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12). Sometimes the “sure thing” is not, however, and this causes a great deal of disappointment.
Trusting in His Character
The Bible promises “a sure word of prophecy,” (2 Pet. 1:19), but this is strictly what God has already determined and not what we surmise to be true. Holding onto “a word’ can sometimes be disappointing to us, not because His Word isn’t true, but because the timing, the situation and the events don’t line up with His timing or will for us. How many people can say “Amen” to that? I love it when a plan comes together, but sometimes it doesn’t.
God’s character is perfect. He doesn’t make mistakes, and He is 100 percent pure and holy, and His will is always right, whether we believe it or not or like it or not. I would venture that most people in America don’t believe this. It may take years for us to see these things come true, but they are true, nonetheless. In our head we agree theologically, but our experience and reality may prove otherwise. We may judge, rail and even dismiss God as failing us when He hasn’t. Did He fail Christ on the cross? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).
No, this was Jesus cry, as He was separated from the Father, as the sins of the entire world were placed upon Him. He became sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). He, the innocent One, was judged in our place, so there is no need for another judgment, unless you haven’t accepted Christ into your life. Our only other judgment is that of works, whether what we did was led by the Spirit of God and gave Him glory (1 Cor. 3:11-13).
The why we may never know. Job had this kind of deal from the Lord. God suggested a test of Job’s character; Satan agreed, thinking Job would blow it if he had enough trials and tribulations. And after all he’d been through – the deaths, the destruction, the boils, Job began to suggest to God that, quite possibly, he’d (Job) gotten a raw deal, and if he could just talk to God about it, he’d surely get his due in the matter. Job never knew the agreement between God and Satan to test him. He only knew what was happening, and it didn’t seem fair. His “godly” wife told him to “curse God and die.” Wow, can you imagine the empathy oozing from her while the puss in Job’s boils oozed from him?
It wasn’t until the whole scenario was played out that God revealed to Job the purpose of the whole thing, and God blessed Him richly for enduring the experience. It may be the same with us. Some of you are undergoing severe testing in life, whether it’s spiritual, emotional or physical. You may not get an answer until you reach heaven, or perhaps you will.
Testing for a righteous response
Trials will reveal what’s in us. As long as life is going along fine, our response is fine, but just let things start to go south. We find what mettle we are of:
Take away the dross from the silver, And there comes out a vessel for the smith; (Prov. 25:4).
The dross (something regarded as worthless; rubbish) in us is “melted” away by the fiery trials we go through. They allow us to see His true purposes and the building of our faith during the process:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Pet. 4:12-19 (KJV).
The purpose of Job’s testing was to 1) prove to Satan that God’s chosen vessel (Job) wouldn’t deny Him 2) Remove self-righteousness from Job. Job, like every Christian today, had a problem with self-righteousness. He was indeed a righteous man (justified as an Old Testament saint), but it took testing to reveal what was underneath the robe of righteousness (justification) God had given him. God allowed Satan to push his buttons. I don’t know about you, but based on what I read in Job, I would have folded early like an accordion.
About 10 years ago I had to undergo open-heart surgery to repair a mitral valve. After “standing” and praying for four years for a healing, the cardiac doc said, “Joe, within four months you’re going to have to have surgery, or you’re toast” (my words not his). I asked God “the what” of it. The thing I believe He said was, “I’m going to teach you how to face death.” In heart surgery they put your heart on a pump while they do the number they need to do on it. Besides the mitral valve repair, I had several holes in my heart that needed repairing. This kind of heart surgery prompted the late comedian Lewis Grizzard to write the book, “They Took My Heart Out and Stomped that Sucker Flat!”
Most of life falls into the “what” category? if we have the guts to ask it. Life is really more about becoming like Christ than necessarily understanding what just happened or is happening to us. It makes us mad – that Adamic part of our nature that always want to stay in charge and know what’s going on as well as the outcome. Forget it. You won’t. The what is often hidden and may not be known for a long time, if not in eternity. This is reason some people visit psychics or others who might shine light on the future (forget it; it’s not right, according to Scripture. Plus most of these bozos can’t find their shoes, which prompts me to ask, “Have you ever seen a psychic with a nice house?”). Around Alabama, I’ve never seen one! “Madam See-all, Know-all” generally lives in a dumpy house. Remember: There’s a curse on this sort of thing!
God reveals things to some folks, but sometimes you have to be searching like a king:
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing” (Prov 25:2 Amp).
God enjoys a mystery, and He is thrilled with those who can find the secret to the whole thing. This ain’t cheap. He’ll never reveal deep things to those who aren’t hungry:
53 He has filled and satisfied the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty-handed [without a gift] (Luke 1:53 Amp).
No offense, but the average Christian will not search out a thing like a king to find the answer they desperately need! They’re too busy with Facebook, the latest Hollywood crapola or some other time waster to spend time enough to get an answer from God.
God hates passivity!
It has occurred to me over many years that God hates passivity. He can deal with sin, but He can’t stand indifference. This is why He detests our idols! God created us to love, adore and serve Him. Anything short of this is falling short. His bountiful love expects a return on His investment. To turn our backs on this love is an insult to the Godhead. So The What often remains obscured from most people’s view because they have chosen other things as more important – other people, their time or personal interests.
As we grow older, we run the risk of getting “religion” with no heart. That is, we can substitute church, religious programming or other activities for God Himself:
“These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’ ” (Matt 15:8-9)
This kind of thing leads to churches as social meeting places where people exchange howdy do’s, and who their football beat or lost to on Friday or Saturday night and the like. A lot of Church meetings consist of three songs and a dry sermon, but people in the condition above don’t know the difference because they are “faithful” to their denomination, which may have forgotten the Truth many years before. The Holy Spirit probably hasn’t been there in power in a long time because the people have preferred“ the traditions of men.”
Ditching God’s command and taking up the latest fads (Mark 7:8 The Message).
As I have tried to write in this blog, asking “why” is usually essentially useless. You will likely never know. But as Joseph testified about the ill treatment he received from his brothers as a result of his proclaiming to one-day rule over them (Gen. 37:5), he said, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
The “holy mix” in this life is about what may be going on behind the scenes, as God works out our lives in His “laboratory.” His love for us is amazing, as he places before us opportunities to grow through often-inexplicable circumstances. We can either get angry, stay confused about life’s latest challenge, or decide for ourselves that God has something positive up His Big Sleeves:
11 In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will, (Eph. 1:11 Amp).
Joseph Beckham is the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls http://amzn.com/1493781286