Lean into God’s Sovereignty When Life Is Hard
By Frank Santora, Crosswalk.com
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world’” (John 9:1-6).
Has life ever hit you so hard that it’s left you questioning God?
Your boss lays you off. The industry you prepared years in school to enter collapses. Your spouse of 25 years says they don’t love you anymore, and leaves. The doctor says it’s cancer. The teenager you raised in church gets arrested. The loved one you held up in prayer for healing, dies anyway.
Still, you haven’t lost your faith. You love God but you have been left perplexed and confused, lost and a bit broken. You turn to the One who holds your world in His hands and cry out asking How God…When God...Why God?!
-Why won’t this go away?
-Why don’t You fix it?
-Why me…and why now?
-When is it going to be over?
-When will it be my turn?
-What did I do to deserve this?
Have you ever been there?
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Biblical Heroes Questioned God
Truth is, most of us have questioned God, because life just doesn’t make sense sometimes. Even the most spiritually committed heroes of the Bible had their moments. It appears we have an innate expectation that if we love God and live for Him, then life will always make sense.
And so we experience an overflow of emotion (distress, frustration, exasperation) directed at our God who is supposed to fix everything.
Moses experienced this after encountering problems leading the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage:
“Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all’" (Exodus 5:22-23).
The prophet Jeremiah, God’s spokesman, actually accused God of deceiving him and said his life had become so unbearable that he wished he had never been born.
“Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, ‘A child is born to you—a son!’" (Jeremiah 20:13-15).
King David, the rags-to-riches story of the Bible, was famous for questioning God!
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
And lest we forget, Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, famously cried from the cross:
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’" (Matthew 27:46).
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God Can Handle It
God is not looking for some phony Sunday morning relationship where we plaster on a smile because it’s expected of us. God is looking for an intimate, authentic, transparent relationship with us, where we are always real with Him. And just like in any relationship, if we don’t deal with the “why” questions, communication comes to a screaming halt. If we don’t ask these hard emotional questions, we just might wind up turning away from God.
Maybe the reason why we don’t feel like praying, why we don’t feel like lifting our hands in worship, or reading the Bible and journaling, is because we have an unresolved “why” that is destroying intimate relationship with our heavenly Father.
God can handle our questions, even our anger. It won’t threaten or diminish Him. And really, it won’t even surprise Him for He already knows when something is bothering us and keeping us bound.
“…for He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).
We can get free from the downward spiral by changing our focus from Why God to How can You get glory from this, God? (John 9:3)
Getting Closer to God
God won’t strike you down, and He won’t wash your mouth out with soap and send you to your room without supper. In fact, I believe God invites our honest emotions. Isn’t that why the Bible says:
"Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out" (Isaiah 1:18, MSG).
When Abraham questioned God about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, he said to God, Why? God why would You do that if there is even one righteous in the land? And what was the result of that? The Bible says God called Abraham His friend! (James 2:23)
Have you read the many heartfelt psalms written by King David? David often asked God why, as he fled from King Saul and battled enemy armies attacking him year after year. What was the result of all those psalms? God called David a man after His own heart!
If you have hard questions for God, go to Him with your questions – He can handle it and the open honesty will deepen your relationship with Him.
I’m not saying God deserves our doubts, questions, anger or whys. I’m not saying that God has done something wrong or that He’s at fault, or even that our questioning is justified. I’m just saying that God understands.
He understands when our pain causes us to be unreasonable, accusatory or confused. And like a true friend, He wants us to bring it to Him and talk it out.
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“Rabbi, Who Sinned?”
Sometimes we question because we are simply broken. And sometimes we question because we really just want someone to blame.
Blame seems to be on everybody’s agenda these days; it has taken over our culture and politics. It has even become the war cry of our generation: Whose fault is it?
And even if we can’t agree on much, at least we can agree on this – blame is not a very effective game, and we must get beyond it.
If people are bleeding and dying, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. What matters is saving them. But blaming someone else is a weak human attempt to rationalize how we’ve gotten ourselves in a mess.
What I find particularly interesting about our text in John 9 is how many blamers will come out of the woodwork to try to work out your issue, when they can’t even work out their own issues!
Notice the blind man was saying nothing, but the townspeople were weighing in on the issue, in order to assign blame for his situation. Jesus rebuked them and responded, “Nobody has sinned.” The man’s blindness was not the result of a sin. And I would add, if sin caused blindness in this regard, we’d all be in the dark!
Casting blame is the devil’s game! He is the accuser of the brethren, the one who likes to put shame, guilt and condemnation on people. He is the one who likes us to keep looking at where we are, whereas Jesus wants us to get focused on where we are going.
Notice what Jesus was actually saying to the disciples:
“You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do” (John 9:3, MSG).
Blaming is unproductive. We can try to figure out the mess, or focus in on the miracle. We can look at the giants in the land, or we can look at the grapes. We can look at the size of our problem, or the strength of our God!
We need to focus, not on what will keep us bound, but what will set us free.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
When life hits you so hard that you begin to question God and get stuck in the blame game, change the question from Why God? and Why me, God? to How is God going to get glory from this?
Change the narrative in your head. Say to yourself:
- I may be going through a divorce, but I am determined for God to get glory from this.
- I may have just gotten laid off, but I am determined for God to get glory from this.
- I may have wasted some of my years on this earth, but God is going to get glory out of this.
- I may be busted and broken and beat up, but I am determined that God is going to get glory out of this!
Give yourself an answer to your perplexing questions that can propel you to a new level of victory. And that answer is… “But for His glory.”
You see our lives are not our own, we indeed have been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are His! In fact, the cry of our hearts as Christians should not be “deliver me,” but “use me.”
Here I am God use me. Use my blessings and my brokenness, my triumphs and my tragedies. Use the good and use the bad, my strengths and my weaknesses.
My life is Your canvas; write on it as You see fit. It’s the answer to all of our questioning. But for His glory.
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It’s Not Over Till God Gets the Glory
The blind man in John 9 was healed, and even though he didn’t know Jesus, God received the glory. How much more does God want to show His glory in your life?
As a born-again child of God, your life story is destined to bring God glory. He knows the end from the beginning, and all the good works He has planned for you to accomplish. You most certainly can bring Him your difficult questions and get guidance to navigate the rough spots as you encounter each one.
The Holy Spirit is here to guide your footsteps along the path foreordained by God, because your life story is being written for God’s glory. And if it doesn’t seem like it yet, it will, because He causes us to be more than overcomers through Christ Jesus!
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