Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Five of My Favorite Words in the Bible - Part 2

"Even if He does not."

This is where the rubber hits the road, my friends. Like our friends in Daniel 3, most of us as believers have no problem ascribing God His rightful attribute of power. He is mightily able to move mountains, protect from harm, heal diseases, and a host of other miracles. The issue we wrestle with isn't whether or not He CAN.

But where Shad & his buddies received their true victory of faith was in the recognition that, sometimes, to accomplish His greater purpose and glory, He chooses NOT to do those things. And only when we come face to face with that reality will we discover where we have really placed our faith: in Him alone, or in what He gives us. And because our 3 Daniel dudes had their faith firmly anchored in God, they were willing to go into the fire with no guarantee of physical deliverance.

This is why those who hang their hats and their hopes on a prosperity gospel are left scratching their heads and looking pretty hopeless when tragedy strikes.

Even as an outstanding pastor and evangelist, Ron Dunn says he struggled with this too:

The truth is, I felt I deserved better treatment. My position ought to merit some consideration...A few perks of the job?...Hey, I'm a child of God. I've devoted my life to serving Him--He ought to keep that in mind when He starts handing out calamities and catastrophies...I always thought of faith as a buffer, a cushion that would protect me from the sharp edges of life. But when one of those sharp edges penetrated my faith and pierced my flesh--that's when...I made the shattering discovery: You can trust God and still get hurt. And that's when you discover what kind of faith you have, because there is one thing both God and Satan agree on: Faith that depends upon prosperity is not genuine.
I think we particularly struggle with this in the good ol' USA. Because of our material abundance, we equate a life filled with stuff, ease, and answered prayer with His love & goodness. I don't think the folks who meet in underground churches or who face persecution for their beliefs struggle with this to the extent we do.

How many times do we say in a prayer group "The tumor was benign! God is so good." or "God is so good! He protected me from the attempted robbery." or "God is good. My son came home safe from Iraq." or "My baby is healthy. God is so good."

I submit to you that yes, God is indeed good, but that statement is independent of the others. If our circumstances are how we determine God's goodness, then what is left for these folks to hold onto: the dear believer whose body is riddled with cancer?...the precious college girl attacked on her way home from class?...the family burying their fallen soldier...the heartbroken mother with empty arms?

I can't even begin to understand God's plan or purpose. He alone is Sovereign, and His ways are above my ways. But this I have learned:

God is good - even when the tumor is malignant.
God is good - even though my friend's 8-year-old son died of cancer.
God is good - even when your marriage is hurting.
God is good - in the midst of the darkest despair.
God is good.
All the time.

Being utterly convinced of this in the deepest parts of our souls is what enables us to trust Him, even when we don't understand the "why". Knowing that He is Love and is good enables us to trust His greater purpose and sovereign plan, even when we can't see beyond our tears. (And yes, we will still have tears. This does not turn us into stoic stiff-upper-lip types; rather, He weeps with us as He did with Mary & Martha at Lazarus' tomb.)

Remember Lisa Beamer, the 9/11 widow of "Let's Roll" Todd Beamer? She has said
God’s sovereignty has been made clear to me. When I am tempted to become angry and ask ‘What if?’ and , ‘Why us?’ God says, ‘I knew on September 10, and I could have stopped it, but I have a plan for greater good than you can ever imagine.’ I don’t know God’s plan, and honestly, right now I don’t like it very much. But I trust that He is true to His promise in Romans 8:28: ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.’ My only responsibility is to love God. He’ll work out the rest." Beneath her signature Lisa writes Genesis 50:20, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."
I have walked down some dark roads with dear Christian friends....a couple who buried their only son who died of SIDS when he was almost 2 years old....a friend who lost her 8-year-old son after a struggle with brain cancer....parents whose newly-married daughter was tragically killed by her husband before he shot himself.

Each of these friends would stand before you and bear unshakeable witness today to the fact that God is good and loving. Even though their hearts were broken and life was forever changed. Because in the midst of their pain, like Job, they experienced God as never before. And although they were already believers, they can now say in a new way: "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5)

And because of this, though they would not have chosen to walk the hard road, now that they are on the other side, they discovered that God is worth it. Because they discovered that He is sufficient. He is loving. And He is good.

When He protects us from unimaginable heartache.

And even if He does not.

(So much for a "few" comments. I'll be putting up my preachin' soapbox now and go back to regular blogging! Have a great Wednesday!)

View blog reactions


Anonymous said...

You just keep right on preaching!!! Yes He is Good all the time!! I am so thankful He loves us right where we are at. Good word:)

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

A precious family in our church just lost their baby to SIDS yesterday. We are in shock and just aching for this sweet couple. What a timely post for me. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

You preach it, girl! God is so good.


Denise C said...

Thank you for this wonderful reminder that yes, indeed GOD IS GOOD all the time. Your insights are very wise and accurate! I often say, "There are so many things we will not understand....on this side of Heaven!"
I had a dear friend who lost her son awaiting a liver transplant...and through the entire journey of his short life (he was 2 years old when he died)....she shared with me that the "Mountain Tops are so wonderful....but the valleys are most peaceful....when it is just you and God and there is absolutely nothing else.....totally and complete dependence on HIM"
I found that to be a profoundly wise statement! She is so right...when we give it all over to GOD....there is peace...His peace....that peace that passeth all understanding! Now how awesome is that???
Blessings to you my friend!

Xandra said...

Oh but I like your preachin' soapbox! Don't put it up where you can't reach it if you need it!


Mel's World said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Stay on the Preachin' Soapbox...it suits you!

What a great word today!

God is good ALL the time, all the time God is good! Amen and Amen sister!

It is so hard for us with our little bitty finite minds to wrap around the goodness and grace of an infinite Father!



Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

You just do not know how much I needed this today. Thank you for "preaching" truth. God has used you to bless me in a HUGE way today.
Much love,

Annette said...

Yes, yes, yes!! God is still good even though I went through a painful divorce 9 years ago. In His grace and goodness He allowed me a second chance for love with a wonderful, Godly man. People would tell me that I deserved it after what I had been through; but, I refute that. What I deserve and what God chooses to give me are not the same things. He can and will bring beauty from the ashes. Thank you for this beautiful post.

gail said...

wow! i just found your blog from lisa writes. i'm so glad i took a few moments to read a few posts. this is sooooooo right on.

i wrestled with this very question after our son was diagnosed with a rare disability. and then 4 yrs later my husband lost 80% of his eyesight. in spite of these things i have learned that God is good, and He has a plan that i know nothing about. it has been hard, but it has drawn me closer to my Lord and given me a deeper love for him than the love i had when all i wanted was a comfy life.

keep up the preaching. we all need to hear these truths. i will definitely be checking in on your blog regularly.

Kelly said...

Wonderful post! I just love Daniel. Thank you for the reminder--God is good, regardless of our circumstances.