I Can Only Imagine..

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Things We Don’t Understand

why

Many times when great suffering, destruction, and distress, things that upset our world come our way, our first response is

” I don’t understand”
Many times followed by followed by “Well if God cares, loves (fill in the blanks) why would He allow this to happen?
I do not believe asking when we do not understand is offensive to God. But we should be careful about questioning Gods goodness and reputation.
Our ancient ancestor Job learned this the hard way as he and his friends discussed Jobs troubles (in 42 of the most difficult chapters I have read in the Bible)

After 37 chapters of discussion God finally speaks to Job and says

Who is this that darkens counsel,
who covers over sound instruction with empty words void of knowledge?
Now, prepare yourself and gather your courage like a warrior.
Prepare yourself for the task at hand.
I’ll be asking the questions, now—
you will supply the answers. Job 38:1-3

For two chapters God asks “Where were you?”

I am not a theologian. I am aware that much has been written about the story of Job. I have no new revelation or insight to offer. But I do believe there is wisdom to be gleaned from this story that would benefit us all in our moments where understanding is not possible. In Job 42 we find these nuggets of wisdom

We somehow think if we could just understand it would make sense.

I’m not convinced it would. If we knew from beginning to end how it all was going to go, there would probably be things we would not want to know.
Job never got an answer as to why God allowed him to go through the suffering. But he came away with understanding of far greater importance

“I know You can do everything;
nothing You do can be foiled or frustrated. (Job 42:2)

Gods questions of “where were you?”  involved much more than chastising Job for daring to suppose he knew the mind of God, or questioning God. I believe it also to do with trust. In pointing to all of his mighty works and wisdom, God is far less concerned with Job understanding his circumstances. He wants Job to understand who He is.

The later on is more important than the here and now

In a post on Desiring God Gloria Furman writes:

“We tend to forget about tomorrow and eternity when our day is filled with the tyranny of the urgent”.

For Job who suffered like most of us never will, the tyranny of the urgent was his wife encouraging him to “curse God and die”, his friends trying to figure out what wrongs Job had committed, and Job wondering “why was I even born?” (Job 3:11). At one point Job says “Don’t find me guilty, just tell me what I have done?” (Job 10:10)  In response to God’s question “Who is this that darkens counsel, who covers over sound instruction with empty words void of knowledge?”, Job replies

” And now I see that I spoke of—but did not comprehend—
great wonders that are beyond me. I didn’t know. (Job 42:3b)

Only through Job’s suffering is this revealed to him. And Job was a better man in the later on.

Who are we to question God?

God says to Job earlier in chapter in chapter 38

” I’ll be asking the questions, now—
        you will supply the answers”.

Jobs response “Before I knew only what I had heard of You,
but now I have seen You.
Therefore I realize the truth:
I disavow and mourn all I have said
and repent in dust and ash. (Job 42:6)

“God, who has perfect understanding and unimaginable power, cannot be comprehended with the human mind and should not be questioned by the likes of Job”.

This quote from The Voice Bible commentary on Job 37 is true for Job and for us. And while God encourages us to talk with him, to come to Him with our requests, we need to ask ourselves a few hard questions before we go into that discussion.

Do we trust God on the basis of who He is, or by what He does?
Do we expect God to perform, prove Himself based on our expectations?

 

Do we suppose God owes us an explanation on any level?
Are we willing after we have done all we can to trust God with the outcome in any situation?

 

Are willing to accept that God is God and we are not….

And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don’t know

And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So, I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the sky begins to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
‘Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I?

Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So, I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through Him
And from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne
Of the one who is worthy of worship alone

Oh God, God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God, God is God and I am man
So, I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God
Only God is God

 

Does God Care?

palm of his handDoes God Care?

This is a question that we most often ask during difficult times, during times of pain, sorrow and loneliness. We know God cares for the world but does He care for you and for me?

We are not alone in asking this, David a man after God’s own heart asked this question.

We read in the book of Psalms

Psalm 13:1-2

How long, O Eternal One? How long will You forget me? Forever?
How long will You look the other way? How long must I agonize,
grieving Your absence in my heart every day?
How long will You let my enemies win?

Psalm 89:46

How long must we endure, O Eternal One?
Will You hide Yourself forever?

Psalm 44:24

Why are You still hiding from us?
Why are You still ignoring our suffering and trouble?

Psalm 10:1

O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?

I do not think God is offended by this questions, I also believe He has already provided answers.

We know God cares for us because of His actions

John 3:16

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.

Romans 5:6

And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men.

Romans 5:9

If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through his living in us.

We know God cares for us because of His promises

Romans 8:38

For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, 39 height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord

 

We know God cares for us personally

He cares about my sorrow

Psalm 56:8

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book”.

He rejoices over me

Zephaniah 3:17

“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.

He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

 

My name is written on the palm of His hand

Isaiah 49:16

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands”.

I realize that in context this verse is part of a message Isaiah delivered to the people of Israel.

McClarens Exposition I think explains this well.

“Now, of course, the text does not primarily refer to individuals, but to the community, whether ancient Israel, or the Christian Church. But the recognition of that fact should not be allowed to rob us of the preciousness of this text in its bearing on the individual. For God remembers the community, not as a generalised expression, but as the total of all the individuals composing it. Each one valuable, each one an individual”.

It is especially poignant when I realize that the nails that pierced His hands were necessary because of my sin. In part my name was written on them.

Courage

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Joshua had been Moses right hand for many years and now the responsibility for God’s chosen people rests on his shoulders.
God’s instruction to Joshua after the news of Moses death-

“Prepare yourself and the people to cross over the Jordan River to enter the land I have given you.

I will give you every place you walk upon and no one will be able to oppose you”

Up until now it sounds great and then God says-

“Be strong and courageous”

“Never be afraid or discouraged”

Looking down the list of responsibilities to come Joshua must have seen some opportunities to be at least a little afraid and a little discouraged.

Maybe even weak and not courageous.

But God’s expectation is clear. After telling Joshua to be strong and courageous two times the third time it is preceded by

“This is my command” be strong and courageous

If I were in Joshua’s sandals I probably would have felt this was a little unfair.
What God says next is what makes His command and instruction to Joshua possible
Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One and I will remain with you wherever you go.

 “I will remain with you wherever you go”!

Maybe for you the giants are big

Or the news was bad

Maybe those you were counting on let you down

They said “we’re with you” but they weren’t

Maybe it looks impossible

Or it looks like it will never change…

Maybe the obstacles are too great, the walls too high, the fear too great..

Whatever you are facing remember He is your God and He remains with you wherever you go. And whatever you are facing this promise makes victory possible for you.

 

Hebrews 13:5

For God has said,

“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”

Matthew 28:20

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Deuteronomy 31:6
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

 

Joshua 1:9
This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go.