At the time of this writing/ramble I see only grey sky, rain drops falling on my pool cover, just a reminder that I live in upstate New York and not on some beach South Carolina. Those of us who live upstate know that sooner or later the sun will shine, flowers will bloom, temperatures will increase, and we will say, “Winter, what winter?” But for now, it’s kind of ugly out there so that’s a good thing because it gives me time to think, research, and write.
The fact is I like to research everything I am interested in and that’s a lot of stuff. And with warmer weather coming our way I am looking forward to a few overnight hiking trips. Through the winter I tried to head up north at least once a week to snowshoe the ADK. No big deal, because in many ways it is one of the best times to hike the Adirondacks. There are no bugs, very few people on the trails (during the week), limited chance of heat exhaustion, and the trails are smoother as the snow covers the rocky terrain.
But at the moment the trails are clear of snow, bugs are out with a cannibal appetite, and people are logging in on the trail heads like they were signing up for weekend at Six Flags. Ugh! Don’t they know that they should practice social distancing from their couch in front of the TV? Sorry I digressed. Where was I? O yes, research.
I enjoy researching new and improved backpacking equipment. Although lighter is not always better, I know the older I get, the lighter I want to get my backpack weight down under 25 pounds. So, the research goes on until I settle on a weight that I can handle for a multiday hike.
That brings me to another research subject—God. Please forgive me, I mean no disrespect to our Creator God. And I certainly don’t place God among the many subjects that I research as one more item to investigate, somehow crammed in between a sleeping bag and a cook stove. The truth is, He alone deserves so much more of my attention than I give Him. That being said, Our God should be studied, learned, obeyed, and consumed with a spiritually ferocious unending appetite.
That brings me to a Scripture portion that performed heart surgery on me this week.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,Job 42:1-6
But now my eye sees You.
6 Therefore I abhor[a] myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”
I am going to assume that you already know the story of Job. He is a perfect example of bad things happening to good people. Job’s life wasn’t perfect. His family had flaws (Job 1:4-5), his wife wasn’t very supportive (Job 2:9), and his friends, they thought they spoke for God and tried to school Job in the finer point in the “whys” of God. Like, “Why is God allowing this in my life?”
It is at Chapter 42 that the light-bulb goes on in Job’s heart and mind. And it was at that point my own mind and heart starts to twist and turn with an uneasiness, should I dare say, awkwardness? Just when I thought I had life all worked out; semi-retired, a loving wife, fantastic grandchildren, great sons and daughters-in-law, pension, 401K, relatively good health, I realized that I really don’t know God’s next step.
D. A Carson writes in his book, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God’s Story, about Job’s suffering and in general the problem of God allowing suffering in the lives of the seemingly innocent.
Speaking about Job,
“All of his rhetorical questions combine to mean one thing: we human beings are not always going to get explanations, but God is bigger than we are and sometimes we just have to trust him. At the end, Job repents (see Job 42:1-6) – not of imaginary sins that his “friends” think he needs to confess in order to win back God’s favor, but of his rather presumptuous tendency to insist on answers rather than to trust.D. A. Carson – The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God’s Story
I find myself at times presuming that God will always explain Himself to my satisfaction as long as I “research” Him enough, study the Scriptures deep enough, act on His commands enough, or believe his promises enough…that’s enough. The truth is, my heart hurts when I realize that I don’t have all the answers and like Job, I know that God will always carry out His purpose because He is a God of divine purposes. I know that, like Job there are things about God that I will never know or understand, and that I need to trust Him for His next move and know that He doesn’t answer to me or any other man, woman, or child. Now, you might say I am being fatalistic, but I’m not. I’m being realistically Biblical. The truth is, I don’t know what God’s next finer detailed step will be. I might be able to look at a topographical map and figure out where my approximate location is, but I have no idea where I will end up next week. And everything I know about God, my Savior Jesus Christ, and the Bible will not change that. Do I want answers? You better believe it! But I am learning that like Job, I need to confess my presumptuous tendency to insist on answers rather than trust God who has a divine purpose for everything that happens to me. As we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ living this “new norm” we call life, don’t forget to trust the God who will always be God. You and I don’t need all the answers, but we do need to walk by faith trusting in Him for our next step.
This is Pastor Pat “From Behind The Pen” wishing you Joy in Jesus!