August 23, 2015

God is active even when we cannot see what He is doing

Isaiah 45:14–47:15, Luke 18:9–19:10, Job 10:11–22

For anyone who wonders about God’s participation in this world, or who thinks those who are evil will prevail, read Isaiah 45-47 for reassurance about both. Verse 14 of 45 says that the people of the world will see that God is in His people and plead saying, “Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.” (Isaiah 45:14)

Isaiah declares, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. All of them are put to shame and confounded; the makers of idols go in confusion together. But Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity.” (Isaiah 45:15-17)

Last night I went to bed wondering. There is much sadness around me, much chaos in the world. Has God forgotten us? But this morning He says, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’” (Isaiah 45:22–23) Verses in Philippians also say that every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! He will prevail over evil.

God speaks to me saying, “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save . . . . Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Isaiah 46:3–4, 8–10)

Job’s story for today has him still in his perplexity, yet he speaks truth: “You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose. If I sin, you watch me and do not acquit me of my iniquity. If I am guilty, woe to me! If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head, for I am filled with disgrace and look on my affliction.” (Job 10:11–15) Even in his situation and even though he had lost sight of his redemption, Job knew that God does what He purposes to do. That comforts and encourages me.

Jesus reminds me to beware of self-righteousness. His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector contrast pride and humility. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like others and recited his goodness. The tax collector kept his eyes lowered and beat his breast saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus said that this man was justified (declared just by God) because those who exalt themselves “will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9–14)

As for the rich who rely on their wealth, Jesus said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:24–27)

I was tested on all these today. One friend repeated most of the above truths without knowing I’d already read about them. That comforted and encouraged me.

However, another ‘friend’ challenged every point and like Job’s comforters, suggested something was wrong with me if I could not see what God is doing. I felt discomforted, discouraged, and even oppressed — until the Lord reminded me that I walk by faith, not by sight. He wants me to trust Him even when He is hidden from view.

God can do the impossible. He is described as One who saves, who protects those who trust in Him, and who does whatever He plans to do. The mess in the world does not thwart Him. The pain in the lives of people is not ignored by Him. He is still Lord of all, and I can trust Him to do all things well, even when I cannot see any of it.

No comments: