Where’s your God now?

When we are in a deep dark place of hurt, it is quite natural to consider things like Job did:

The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the wounded cry for help, yet God ignores their moaning.
Job 24:12 NLT

As I’ve watched the disease of Alzheimer’s steal from my grandmother for years. And as I watch parents lose their children. And as I watch the rich be frivolous with their money while children and widows suffer and starve in this world. And as I watch natural disasters bringing pain, death and destruction. And as I see families impacted by sickness, death, chronic illnesses, hunger, poverty, oppression, injustice, pain and suffering in this world. Who other than the cold hearted can ignore such things that are undeniably around us?

And when it hits close to you and affects someone that you love dearly — or even you personally — what does faith look like in this moments?

“Though You Slay Me” and “It Is Well With My Soul” are two of my favorite Christian songs. They don’t have the typical “raise your hands and bounce” of today’s Sunday morning mega-rave gatherings where “everything is health, wealth, and prosperity”. They speak to a season of suffering, of loss, of faith stretched beyond what can be endure by mere men to where we must rely on God alone — even in that moment where the question from the accuser screams inside our heads, “Where is your God now?”

It is in these places of suffering that idols are revealed and that the veil of this temporary place is torn back to reveal eternal and spiritual things to us. Imagine a child going to school and taking a test for the first time who is horribly afraid of a low grade on a standardized test — while a teacher’s goal is to determine where they can focus their time teaching to best fit the needs of the child for a rounded and comprehensive understanding of all objectives. Imagine a child experiencing an immersive virtual reality game for their first time and being truly terrified that they might fall to their death or be killed — while a loving parent assures them that there is nothing to fear. Imagine a hard working parent choosing to consistently sacrifice a few hours of sleep for years on end to obtain a degree that will open doors for them to better provide for their families.

It is easier for us to see both sides of the coin in the familiar situations that I described — where we must learn to trust that there is a greater purpose than what we can see and feel in the moment. But what about when life truly demands of us whether or not we believe that our God is faithful and true?

I’m not saying this so you’ll hide in the corner sobbing about how you’ve let God down yet again. Some very cold hearts that are far from God might need the ground to shake under their feet like that to wake them up — but you are here reading a Christian blog, so let’s skip past that trap of shame and get right to faith and trust.

Do you trust God in the hard places — because that’s going to be where you need Him most!

And when you’re in that truly hard place, it is going to feel like doubt and suffering — but it has the opportunity to be surrender and spiritual growth.

When everything cries out to us, “Where is your God now?” — we don’t have to win that argument.

When all evidence makes it look on the outside like the enemy is winning — we don’t have to win that battle.

When what lies ahead is clearly more than we can bear under our own power — we don’t have to speak to the burden.

Are there times that a student might feel like the teacher ignores their groanings about having to take a test — but the teacher isn’t truly ignoring them? Yes! Are there times when our not getting the answer we wanted in the moment we wanted it is good for us? Yes!

Lord, if going deeper was easy, everyone would rush to step out of the boat and walk upon the water. And if it was easy, those who stepped out wouldn’t sink and need your rescue. But this trusting in you isn’t so that our own strength can be put on display — but that our weaknesses can bring glory to you revealing your power. And trusting in you doesn’t profit our lives or the lives of others if it is just a one time statement of faith instead of a daily walk. Lord, for all these things, we need you. You are near and not far. You are here, and your victory is complete. You have called us by name, and we believe, we surrender, and we will trust you by the power of your Holy Spirit that you promise us. For the sake of your honor and glory and in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, we boldly come into the throne room of grace with these prayers. Amen.

A, B or No

Have you ever had someone ask you if you’re this or you’re that — proposing a type of multiple choice question to you as if those are your only options — when your answer may not fit either of those options? Where they want you to confirm and show your support for either a simple answer of A or B, but the complexity of the situation may have you answering outside their question with a “No”?

The first thing that comes to mind is political parties. Yes, there are people that are die hard fanatics for a certain political party versus another and who will blindly follow whatever propaganda is fed to them by those handing out the manipulations and the agendas. But many rational, reasonable and wise people can see the corruption and wickedness on both sides of an issue. In fact, any judge with time on the bench will tell you that the true rarely lies exclusively on one side or the other side recalling of the events of a dispute, but it is most commonly found “somewhere in the middle”.

I love how Joshua 5:13-15 provides us with a wonderful picture of this type of interaction. Joshua encounters unexpectedly a man with a drawn sword and asks in a way — Are you A) for us or B) for our enemies? Expecting a confirming answer from this warrior…

Let’s stop right there for a moment, and let’s try to make this a little more real. Imagine you are about to go into your favorite football game between your team and their rival, and this impending moment is foremost and up front in your thoughts. You see another person within a block of the stadium carrying a football, but not wearing the colors of either team. And you ask, “Are you for the Clemson Tigers, or are you for the Alabama Crimson Tide?”

This more familiar situation might make the ego-centric nature of the question be revealed a little easier — because I’m not sure how many of us have commonly encountered unshielded men with drawn swords in our day to day lives (at least if we are talking physical reality and not metaphorically speaking). Can we see that the question of A or B in these situations imposes upon others that what is most important and familiar to us in a situation — most assuredly must be important to them as well.

We make these types of mistakes with other people constantly — labeling people as friend or foe when they are really just stranger or acquaintance, stereotyping and judging people wrongly, etc. And we also make these same types of mistakes about God.

How many of us fools pray “trying to get God on our side” of an issue or problem or challenge, and never talk to Him again until we need to place another order at the metaphorical drive-thru “have it my way” fast-food prayer line? Missing out altogether on who is God and who isn’t in this equation, and missing out on the work that prayer is meant to do within us more often than around us.

Some of these bratty children that I see demanding things from their parents, and some of these bratty adults that I see and hear demanding things from society and others, some of us in our wants and desires — need to hear a surprising “No”.

Some of us need to understand that our personal perspective may be blocked and hindered because we have been only considering A or B, me or them, etc. — when the right answer is “No” and our response is instead, “What does the Lord have to say to His servant?”

And when we reach this place of holy surrender, we aren’t just standing upon holy ground where we can stack up stones to create an altar or marker that others can see. We are establishing a point and time in our lifesong where a true miracle of correction, revelation, repentance and spiritual victory has been won. Amen.

Related Reading:

  • Genesis 4 & 5
  • Psalm 4 & 5
  • Joshua 4 & 5

What is grace, and why do I need it?

What is grace, and why do I need it?

Search your heart and ask yourself if there are selfish, prideful things that you have done that benefitted yourself in the short term, but that have negative consequences – either unconsidered costs that you came to realize later, or costs to others that were not a concern to you at the time, or even the bad example that your life choices served for those little eyes around you watching to later replicate your actions.

Does your heart not cry out to you and press you to examine your life and to see a change? And have you not found that your imperfections, your flaws, your addictions – these unseen enemies within you that drag you along in chains into consequences that you would rather avoid – that they are strong and overcome you when you battle them alone?

You are not meant to make war on your own against these unseen enemies,  man of flesh. You are not meant to accept defeat or to be content participating in war against your fellow brothers and sisters. You can know victory.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
John 1:12-13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.1.12-13.NLT

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16-17.NLT

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
John 4:13-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.4.13-14.NLT

The battle is not yours to win alone,  but you can choose to be on the winning side. You can choose to bring positive impact and love and change to the world around you. You can live a life guided by the strength that overcomes. You can be alive to a renewed life in Christ, and freed from the slavery of your old life of sin.

I’m not selling you a religion, friend. I’m not convincing you to buy into a once a week religious practice. I’m not manipulating you to put part of your money into an offering plate,  friend. I’m telling you that religion will send many to hell.

What I am telling you is that Christ can take hold of your whole life. He can live in you and through you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – and even more importantly,  breath by breath,  thought by thought, loving action by loving action. You can realize that everything that you have is a blessing rained down upon your life by the creator. You can realize what you deserve by your life’s works is nothing c short of hell,  but that by His grace, He offers you nothing short of heaven, of being a born again Child of God.

We are not just men and women of flesh and blood,  friends. Know your true self,  know your true value in eternity as a Child of God. Cling to your right to become a Child of God. Seek first the Kingdom of God and those things eternal. See past the veil of this world’s lies and substitutions that have no glow at all beside the light of His grace and glory.

Know victory.
Know His grace.
Celebrate His Glory.