As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been working through a study on 1 Samuel. One of the more recent sessions began a discussion that really struck a nerve with me. I’ve never been in a situation that has left my faith shattered to pieces. I haven’t experienced that moment that makes me really question if God is real or if I’ve chosen the wrong path for my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have questions…they just aren’t devastating, life-altering questions.
This particular topic though has given me something to think about over the last few weeks and I’m sure it will resonate with many fellow, Christ-followers.
It started with a read of 1 Samuel 16:1-23…if you have a moment, read the passage because it’s a great portion of scripture but what led to the big question can be found in verse 14, “Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” I have read the story of Samuel, Saul, David and Jonathan but have NEVER come across that passage in a meaningful way. Do you see what it says and what the implications of that scripture could be? I read it, I studied my bible study notes, I poured over that small passage for days. How could the evil spirit that tormented Saul have possibly come from God. First I couldn’t fathom the God I know to be in any kind of relation with evil and second, that He would choose to SEND an evil spirit to torment His own creation. It seemed to have so many implications…does that mean God controls all the evil in this world, does He purposefully send bad things to the lives of His children, how can He love us so much but do these types of horrible things to us. I struggled with this question into the next week as we talked about Hannah and her barrenness. I questioned how a loving God could then purposefully close the womb of such a godly woman (if you read the story of Hannah, you see that she LOVED God and served Him, yet He continued to keep her womb closed). Does this same loving God close the wombs of women today and why does He do this? Does He give cancer to those sitting in hospital waiting to die? Does He purposefully cause floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, that devastate nations to their very center?
My brain continued to argue and my heart began feeling weighted with this terrible sorrow for the image of who MY God was and that I was losing that image to a much darker picture. It wasn’t so much that I felt He wasn’t/isn’t God but that MY God of grace, mercy, HAPPILY EVER AFTER…wasn’t so true. My picture was becoming tainted with reality and understanding of a MUCH BIGGER God!!!
Maybe age really does bring wisdom, maybe experience brings wisdom, maybe it’s both or maybe it’s just the true desire and seeking after God’s heart brings clarity to faith.
A few things came across my path the following week and a half that gave me a more stable perspective but I just couldn’t let go of this idea that God has somehow caused great suffering in those who love Him and a feeling of great letdown at this revelation. Why? Why would you do that…How could you do that…Don’t you love us so much more than that???
My heart’s desire is to know and follow but my intellectual mind cries for understanding and justification.
I prayed and peace came…I wasn’t about to let Satan have a stronghold like that and I know that God was fighting that battle too. But I came across a short article posted by a co-worker that nailed it on the head for me.
Again if you have time read the whole article but if not then here’s a brief synopsis and what really struck me. This pastor is famous (I’ve never heard of him but he preaches in the states to a congregation of 7000). He’s young, married with three children. As he puts it everything he’d touched turned to gold…until the day he was diagnosed with cancer of the brain. Brain surgery, chemo, seizure, recovery, not a hopeful prognosis at all but this was his response…
“There’s this part of me that’s so grateful that the Lord counted me worthy for this.”
This was, of course, the first flash of, “wow, I think I need a shift in perspective of this whole, what is God doing thing”! Then he followed it up with these thoughts…
“After all, if he believes God is sovereign in all things and that events in a Christian’s life are God’s will, does that mean God gave him cancer? And if He didn’t, what does that say about His sovereignty and perfect will?”…”Chandler says. “I don’t think God gave me cancer … but He knew it was coming. He certainly didn’t stop it, and He’s certainly able to. The whole Scripture is: bad things happen in a fallen world, and God is enough in those things and uses those things to the Glory of His own name.”…“It’s not punitive; it’s not random; and it has not been given to us by God to show us who’s boss,” Chandler says. “There’s a purpose in it; there’s a limit in it; and in the end, God is not going to give to us what He will not sustain us in. And I believe at that moment, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to stand. That’s exactly what we found out. And I’m rejoicing in what He’s doing in it.”
How on earth could I possibly argue the Sovereignty of a God I’ve committed my life to when all the “earth-shaking” that’s happened in my life is a simple bible study on 1 Samuel. I’ve never experienced this type of life-or-death situation so why would I need to question who God is and why He does what He does.
In truth it gave me perspective. Perhaps I will face tragedy in my life…I have no doubt I will face hardship but perhaps that tidbit of information will prepare me to make a statement such as Matt Chandler. Perhaps it will serve to strengthen my resolve to allow God complete control over my life instead of holding back.
If my deepest heart were known it would reveal that I still doubt, I still question, I still wonder how this all lines up but my conscious mind is choosing to leave some questions to be answered on the day I meet my Creator. Perhaps in the meantime I can find that balance between God’s Sovereignty and His utter devotion and deep love for His children that would soften His heart to hear our prayers as we DO seek to do His will.