In our last post, we asked a bunch of questions. They all really boil down to two, though:
- When can we count on God to intervene?
- How do we respond to difficulty or evil threatening us?
We’re trying to wrestle these out logically so that we know what we believe and what it is founded on. Many Christians believe that God orchestrates all the events of our lives. To that we ask the question, “does God orchestrate genocide in Sudan or child trafficking in Thailand?” I think we would all answer “no”. Then who is to blame? Most people would claim “humanity”. I’d have to agree. God gave us free will to choose our own life path. Our choices have consequences. Sometimes those consequences affect other people. If God were to curb every harmful consequence and keep men from hurting other people, he would, in essence, be eliminating free will. It’s not a choice if it does not carry the effect of the choice. What is free will without consequence?
But God does intervene. I can’t argue against that fact. I have known people healed of fatal diseases without the prick of a surgeon’s scalpel. I have heard of a friend saying the name of Jesus and having a truck lift up on it’s own to allow a trapped car to roll out from it’s crushing weight. Jacki and I have had many experiences with miraculous provision. God does intervene. But not every time. If “all things work together for the good of those who love him”, then why does a father die, leaving a wife and two little children who will never know their dad? How is that good for anybody? When can we expect God to intervene? What’s the limit to which God will step in and say, “no more. I’m getting involved here.” How can we take him at his word when it comes to protection, provision, and deliverance, when people sometimes die broke, sick, and hurt by other people? If he promised he would do it, shouldn’t he do it all the time? I think it’s our concept of what is good that is the problem. Here’s an example of where we go wrong:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
We take this verse and claim that God is always in control and that nothing will happen to us that he doesn’t want to happen to us. That’s true, but it’s what we believe God wants for us that is the issue. We claim that this verse is God’s promise to protect us from death, disease, and harm. It’s not. Read the verse before it.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Luke 12:4-5
Jesus is telling his disciples bluntly. “People will kill some of you. I’m not going to save you from them.” Well, if he’s not saving us from death, then what is he saving us from? From being killed and thrown into hell. It’s the only thing that really matters to Jesus. It’s why he says, “Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life. (Matt. 10:39)” For God, it’s not the condition of your life that is the priority, it’s the condition of your soul. Everything else is secondary. So, when can we count on God to intervene? When your soul is on the line. Jesus said, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” What he is meaning is that God is aware of you at every moment in your life. He even knows how many hairs are on your head: a number that is ever changing. That means that he is aware of your troubles. He knows how much hardship you can bear:
“The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
If he has not intervened yet, it’s because, like Job, he believes in you. He knows you are strong enough to endure the heartache and you may even grow stronger through it. If he does intervene, then you can be sure it’s one of two things:
- God’s mysterious grace broke through.
- You were on the verge of breaking down and losing it all.
It’s your soul that matters most to Jesus. God is good and wants with every fiber in his being to make good things happen to you. But the ultimate good thing is that your heart grows more bonded to his and richer because of it.
You might be looking at those last two sentences and saying to yourself, “but if God ‘wants with every fiber in his being to make good things happen’ then why don’t they?“ We’ll tackle that question next week and how you respond when difficulty or evil is standing in your doorway?