Why doesn’t God…?

Why doesn't God heal me / my wife / my mother-in-law?

Why doesn't God make me more successful / give me more money / let me find my dream job?

Why doesn't God get rid of those antisocial neighbours / unpleasant colleagues / rude people?

Why doesn't God [enter your current concern / worry / struggle / burden / gripe / pain here]?

You get the idea. The stuff that bugs you / really hurts you / gets you down / causes you serious anxiety is different to my stuff, and changes over time, but if we're believers in Jesus Christ we all ask the Why doesn't God…? question from time to time.

I'm here to tell you that there are only two possible answers, whatever the stuff / trouble. And they both relate to the F-word.

No, not that F-word.

Faith. In God.

Because although God may want to answer my prayer / grant my request, I need to excercise the faith that says He is good, He's my Heavenly Father – and that I need to ask Him. The Bible says He knows what I need before I ask – which implies that He expects me to ask. And if it applies to what I need it applies just as much to what I want. He wants me to come to Him in faith, relate to Him and speak with Him – rather than just sitting back then complaining that I don't have what I want. It puts the emphasis on Him instead of me.

Equally, He may know that it's best for me not to get what I think I want. He may want to grow something else in me, grow some more faith in me, by putting up with my troubles / disappointments / failures and exercising the faith that says He Knows Best and that He Plans Something Better.

Hard to do? Absolutely. Easy to write in a blog post? Totally. True? I think so.

What's your question for God? Bring it to Him – along with the F-word.


This post was prompted by my wife's godly wisdom in response to my bemoaning something not to my liking.

 

 

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It’s OK for Christians to be anxious

No, really, it is! I found it in the Bible. OK, so it's in the New Living Translation, which is a bit of a paraphrase but is my favourite for general reading. I find it often brings out meaning I would miss from the NIV, which is my standard “proper” translation. And I tend to find The Message a bit, well, distracting somehow. It, too, has its moments of clarity but I don't like reading chunks of it.

So back to the being anxious thing. Here it is:

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

1 Peter 4:2

Told you. While some may quibble with the translation, I doubt many will dispute that it is a good thing to be anxious to do what God wants, what with Him being Creator And Lord Of All and everything.

Apologies if you you were expecting controversy, heresy or some other aberration at which to be outraged. I don't actually think worry is OK at all (I'd go so far as to call it a sin – yikes!). Have a read of this post of mine on that topic and then come back here for the rest of today's deep insights.

There's another verse about doing God's will that I've always “liked” (in the traditional, rather than Facebook, sense):

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13

(And that one's from the NIV, as that's the version I learnt it in back in the eighties when doing Navigators Scripture Memory.)

So I would thank God for that verse and comfort myself with the knowledge that no matter how badly I seemed to be doing, or however unfruitful my life was, He was at work in me so that I'd want what he wants and then go out and do it. Methinks, however, that I've been somewhat passive and not playing my part. Because Peter says I'll be anxious to do God's will, not just sitting there waiting to be inspired to want it. And he also says:

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

1 Peter 4:7

Earnest. Disciplined. Prayers. I need to ask God to bring this about in me. I need the power of the Holy Spirit enlivening and empowering me. I need to submit, surrender and make myself available to be compelled by the love of Christ like the apostle Paul was.

Fact is, none of that is new to me. But I'm coming back to it, and Him, afresh and looking to be that person who wills and acts according to His good purpose, anxious to do His will. I know He'll answer prayers like that, and already is doing. Please pray for me that I'll not forget, give up – or be anxious when I shouldn't.

 

Be a more fruitful Christian: It’s not about trying harder

I came across this article on crosswalk.com that spoke exactly to the place I find myself. It's based on a book called Pursuing More of Jesus and has 13 sections. Below is the one that's spoken to me most strongly so far. I've yet to consider the others properly. What struck me most, and comforted me, was this phrase:

…you don’t have to try harder, pray more, or claim greater territory in service.

Anyway, here's that whole section. It'll certainly be uppermost in my mind and prayers today.

Pursue more of His fruit in your service. If your service for God lacks the fruit of changed lives, you don’t have to try harder, pray more, or claim greater territory in service. Instead, you should examine your personal relationship with Jesus to see how closely you’re connected to Him. It’s the quality of your connection to Jesus that will determine whether or not you’ll have the power to bear good fruit for His kingdom. The fruit you bear isn’t produced through your own efforts; it’s produced by the Holy Spirit through you as you consistently rely on God. Jesus is the Vine and you are the branches. God may sometimes choose to prune you to bear good fruit by cutting out of your life everything you depend on – except your relationship with Jesus. When you’re forced to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus because that’s all you have, your connection to the Vine gets bigger, empowering you to produce more fruit. Trust God when He prunes the branches of your life; He knows what’s best to help you grow. Pray for greater fruitfulness in your service, asking God to conform you more closely to the image of Jesus, use you to make others want to know Him better, give you opportunities to share His Gospel and give you the fruit of changed lives as a result, draw others to Himself through a Bible study you lead, or give you one person to share His love with today.

 

Guess what? Prayer makes a difference.

After wrestling with a technical problem for several months I finally found a solution today! So grateful to God for that. Kind of fits in with my recent thoughts about offering all my work to God.

This particular project has been a thorn in my side for a while now. There were other aspects of it that were making me feel angry and anxious by turns. Recalling my own advice, and some I’d read in earlier editions of this daily devotional, I decided to “take authority” (Jesus’s, not mine) over the project and I commanded it to get in line with God’s will – which, generally speaking, does not include angst, friction or constant frustration.

To be honest I felt a bit stupid praying like that. But – my technical problem is fixed and I feel much more hopeful and peaceful about the rest. Who’d have thought it? God cares, and prayer makes a difference 🙂

When Church Hurts: Advice that’s helping me

Hiding behind masks

THE classic accusation levelled at churches is that they're “full of hypocrites” – meaning, presumably, people who say one thing but do another. “Hypocrite”, as I recall, relates to wearing a mask, like Greek actors used to. It was their job to deceive and to hide their real selves away.

Well, I'd agree that churches are certainly full of imperfect people. They're either people who don't know Christ or people who do and are on the journey of becoming like Him. Either way, flawed and fallible is the order of the day. Some of that fallibility results in mask-wearing and the aforementioned hypocrisy. So maybe the accusation is at least partly valid. God's idea was that as He works in and through these flawed, but surrendered people, others get to see His glory, love and power – and that they, in turn, get themselves right with Him.

As Christians we don't like to admit that sometimes this doesn't happen. That Christians let each other down. And, specifically, sometimes those in charge of our churches hurt us big time because their fallibility and mask-wearing clouds their judgement and drowns out God's truth.

We don't like it but it happens. It recently happened to me and my wife.

The details don't matter. What matters is that we ended up in a place of rejection; a place of fear, anger and uncertainty. Unfortunately we won't be the last, so I hope some of what I write here might help others on the road to recovery.

Repent

God has led us, at least for now, to a new congregation. Those in charge have given us a warm and understanding welcome – along with some simple advice. I like lists so here's the 1-2-3:

  1. Take time. It's the worst kind of cliché to say that time's a great healer, and by itself it does seem a bit of cold comfort. But as an exhortation not to be impatient and to have hope, especially where God's in the picture, it's a sound part of the strategy. We've already been on this journey for months and I expect it may be months more before I feel free(ish) of resentment and insecurity.
  2. Pray; forgive; repent. We were urged to bring it all before God and to ask Him who and what we need to forgive. That much I suppose is obvious. Slightly less obvious is that it may not be a one-off exercise, requiring repetition at intervals. Even less obvious is asking the Lord what I need to repent of and ask for forgiveness for. I am not 100% innocent, and in your hurtful situation neither are you.
  3. Don't push against a closed door. Step 2 is between me and God. The people responsible aren't involved. Forgiving them before God changes me; asking God for forgiveness changes me. It may feel like they hold the key to moving on, but if they're unavailable or unwilling that'd leave me stuck. That means I mustn't rely on a face to face reconciliation. Maybe that'll come in time (dang it, there's that time stuff again) but if I can't face talking to them, or my approaches are rebuffed, it's OK.

And that's all there is to it 🙂 Oh, and walking with Jesus day by day. And resisting the Devil. And let's not forget staying connected with His people (or at least some of His people, somewhere or other). Do all that and we'll emerge stronger, one day. God promises it.

P.S. I also recommend tea. Tea is good.