He does not forget the cry of the afflicted. (Psalm 9:12b)
It seems like God forgets the cries of the afflicted sometimes, or maybe that He just ignores them. But that’s our own perspective. When we don’t like His response time, we decide to project what we believe His decision and process must be.
We’re often wrong.
We can trust and believe Him, no matter what. Even when we don’t understand, when we don’t like a situation, when we feel overlooked. God is still God. He is still powerful enough, compassionate enough, just enough, and patient enough.
“Enough” is more our issue than His.
The boastful cannot stand in Your presence. (Psalm 5:5b)
Pride separates us from God. We have to leave something behind – ourselves – when we approach Him. We can’t have it both ways – our own and His. We might not label it as pride. We call it control, priorities, organization, responsibility, management, or many other things. Things that in our individualistic society sound noble and helpful instead of a hindrance to faith. But it is a hindrance. Seeing things our own way gets in the way of truth. Sure, things might make more sense to us through our own eyes, feelings, and experiences, but with nothing to measure against, how can we possibly know where we are or how we’re doing? Comparing ourselves to others? That rarely ends well. We still pick and choose how authentically we compare.
We often pit pride and humility against each other in simplistic terms, as if pride is feeling good about ourselves or something and humility is being ashamed about ourselves or something. We get it turned upside down and inside out. Pride shuts out others, no matter how inclusive we think we’re being. We simply rationalize who is “us” and who is “them.” Humility welcomes, because it opens our eyes to the truth of our similarities and possibilities. Humility helps us believe.
Faith isn’t easy. Humility isn’t easy.
But easy isn’t the goal of faith.
Yesterday’s post focused on God’s words to Job. Here’s Job’s response to God:
I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this who conceals My counsel with ignorance?” Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, “Listen now, and I will speak. When I question you, you will inform Me.” I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:2-6)
What a sweet response of culmination, resolution, and transition. I love the honesty of verse 3b: “Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” How often we speak of things we don’t understand. In the process, we mess with the truth, what we believe about God, and how we perceive life and faith.
There’s something about reading the entire book of Job. We all get the basics. Job was faithful but encountered beyond what seems to be a fair share of troubles. He struggled, others got involved and gave him all kinds of advice and explanations, and God didn’t say a whole lot until later in the book. And that’s when the reality check comes in.
Basically, “Um, hello, Job. Can you stop for just a second please? Remember me? God? Let me remind you of a few things. In fact, I’ll just ask you a few questions.”
Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me. Where were you when I established the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its blanket, when I determined its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place, when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther;
your proud waves stop here”? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place, so it may seize the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it? The earth is changed as clay is by a seal; its hills stand out like the folds of a garment.
Light is withheld from the wicked, and the arm raised in violence is broken. Have you traveled to the sources of the sea or walked in the depths of the oceans? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the extent of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the road to the home of light? Do you know where darkness lives, so you can lead it back to its border?
Are you familiar with the paths to its home? Don’t you know? You were already born; you have lived so long! Have you entered the place where the snow is stored? Or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble, for the day of warfare and battle? What road leads to the place where light is dispersed? Where is the source of the east wind that spreads across the earth? Who cuts a channel for the flooding rain
or clears the way for lightning, to bring rain on an uninhabited land, on a desert with no human life, to satisfy the parched wasteland and cause the grass to sprout? Does the rain have a father? Who fathered the drops of dew? Whose womb did the ice come from? Who gave birth to the frost of heaven when water becomes as hard as stone, and the surface of the watery depths is frozen? Can you fasten the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the belt of Orion? Can you bring out the constellations in their season and lead the Bear and her cubs? Do you know the laws of heaven? Can you impose its authority on earth? Can you command the clouds so that a flood of water covers you? Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: “Here we are”? Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the dust hardens like cast metal and the clods of dirt stick together? Can you hunt prey for a lioness or satisfy the appetite of young lions when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait within their lairs? Who provides the raven’s food when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38)
Go ahead and continue into Job 39 if you want. It’s riddled with more questions. And I always read these questions as directed not just to Job but to me. And not just to me but to people in general. I mean, what are we thinking when we try to understand what God has done, estimate what He will do, and even try to take some of that control away from Him (or refuse He has it in the first place)?
Don’t get me wrong. I think God is okay with our questions. He’s okay with our struggles. Both indicate we’re working through something, that we’re on the journey instead of indifferent.
I never want to be indifferent again. I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of questions. Yet I am more certain about who God is the closer I get to Him and the more passionate and persistently I pursue Him.
God is God.
Don’t define Him. Let Him define Himself as you seek and get to know Him. He’s worth the journey.
If it is was all about religion, what to do, what to say, what to wear on a Sunday, all about perfection, black and white, wrong or right, never great: well, we’d never make it. I’d never be good enough. I threw my hands up, worries down. I remember when He showed me how to break up with my doubt. Once I was lost, but now I’m found: no strings attached when He saved my soul. I want you to know the God I know.
It’s a reminder from Job 37:14: Stop and consider God’s wonders.
It is both a direction and challenge for us. It takes humility and boldness, pause and involvement, the ability to identify God’s wonders and the willingness to be grateful for them. It’s a similar motivation to keeping a blessings journal. It goes beyond looking at life with a positive appreciation and delving into what God and only God can be and do. His wonders don’t always feel warm and wonderful, because we stand in awe of His power, fierceness, and justice. Those are part of His wonder, too. We can’t twist God’s wonders to be only those things that we find amazingly wonderful. He defines amazing, and He fills wonder. We particularly find it when we’re willing to empty ourselves of what we want to see as wonder. We find it when we’re willing to stop…and consider.
Stop and consider. Both present challenges that we’re not willing to accept because of the sacrifices they involve. Both are worth the wonder we’ll encounter because of our sacrifice, because of who God is.
For His eyes watch over a man’s ways, and He observes all his steps. There is no darkness, no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide themselves. (Job 34:29-30)
I find this comforting. Not in a “you better watch out, because God is going to get you” kind of claim to any “evildoer” out there. It comforts me because nothing escapes God. Nothing can eclipse His light. Nothing can go unnoticed or overlooked. His light and truth permeates it all. Nothing I see, say, think, or consider. Nothing I see someone else do or think they might consider doing. Nothing I hear about, nothing I don’t hear about. Nothing.
As dark as any situation, person, action seems, it cannot be deep enough to escape the reach of God’s light. His light reaches the depths to redeem sometimes, and at other times, it simply sheds enough light to let others see the truth of evil trying to live and thrive in darkness. Sometimes, God requires us to shine His light into the darkness, facing what we might fear to acknowledge the truth, lessening the sting, and keeping it in proper perspective.
Our eyes adjust to the darkness or the light with which we surround ourselves.