Sunday, June 30, 2019
When God Doesn’t Make Sense
Explain Chapter 1
Life, indeed, is a mystery. Much of what happens in life is beyond us. We do not understand why some people have cancer; why some people are involved in tragic accidents; why some people suffer premature heart attacks; why some people live in constant pain, while others live relatively trouble free lives. And even if it were explained to us, we probably wouldn't be satisfied with it. We long for sensibility. We seek explanation. We are desperate for reason.
We need to understand one fundamental truth that is inherent throughout all of scripture: God never has to explain himself. He rarely gives reasons. The events that unfold in our world seldom make sense. We, therefore, are confronted with the basic tenant of Christianity: The righteous live by faith.
An Expression of Faith READ 2:1
Perhaps the greatest expression of undaunted faith ever penned came from the Old Testament spokesman, Habakkuk. Most prophets spoke to the people for God. Habakkuk spoke to God for the people. He lived in times that were hard on faith. He saw the righteous suffering and the wicked prospering. He asked God the two questions we often ask: “Why?” and “How long?”
God revealed to Habakkuk that the Babylonians, the epitome of everything Habakkuk (and God for that matter) detested, would be used as an instrument of judgment on the Hebrew people.
Habakkuk did not understand. He could not explain it. For a time, evil would win over righteousness and bad things would happen to good people. God’s hand would not move; his face would not be seen.
In our finite thinking we can never understand how God can bring good from evil. Time and time again the Bible shows us how.
Gen. 50:20—Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
Job 3—Job wondered why God seemed absent during his difficult circumstances, In the end God showed His power and majesty and Job became wealthier than he was at the beginning.
And the ultimate evil turned to good occurred at the cross. Through the ultimate evil, sin, came the ultimate good—eternal salvation.
God’s unfathomable wisdom caused justice and mercy to meet at the cross. Jesus received the penalty that God’s justice required for sin, and we receive, through faith, God’s merciful forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life.
Yet throughout this time of punishment, this illogical and unexplainable time, God reminded Habakkuk of correct living, “The righteous will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4).
Habakkuk realized that though he did not understand the ways of God and did not agree with the timing of God, still he could not doubt the wisdom, the love, or the reliability of God.
Hab. 3:17-18 Habakkuk wrote his great affirmation of faith: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
Habakkuk affirmed that even if everything he relied on failed, if everything that gave stability to his life crumbled, still he’d trust the Lord.
If Habakkuk were speaking today, he would say, “Though the scaffold falls, the stock market crashes, the company goes bankrupt, and the economy heads south, if everything I rely on falters—still I will trust in the Lord. My confidence in God will not waiver.”
The Importance of Faith
ILL: Corrie ten Boom knew something about tragedy and suffering. She lived with a courageous faith. Upon emerging from a Nazi concentration camp she said, "There is no pit so deep that God isn't deeper still." She picked an apt analogy because pain and tragedy is a pit.
For some, it appears bottomless. Many experience a falling, disorientation, a terror, as they grab for walls that are out of reach. They see only blackness, and hear only echoes of the life they used to know.
And for many, they claim that God is not present. But Corrie ten Boom, like Habakkuk, reminds us that even in the pits of tragedy, God is still there. He is present. Yes, pain is real. But God, indeed, is real, too. That's where faith comes in.
Faith reminds us that there can be a design for our lives that presently we may not fully grasp, but in time, we will come to trust that God is in control. In the place between illogic and logic, between misunderstanding and understanding, between questions and answers, we must believe in God.
What Faith Believes
Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
A. Faith believes that God has everything under control.
The God of the universe has a plan for our lives, and he is busy weaving it out in his time. But it is not always easy to discern. It is often above and beyond us.
We view life as though we are watching a parade through a rolled up program.
(Have everyone roll up their bulletins.)
We can only see what is immediately in front of us. But God is high above us and sees all of life at one glance. He sees both the beginning and the end of things, while we see only the present.
We are always wiser after the event. But while we’re in the center of it, we are unaware of why we are going through it. Only after we reflect upon it, does it strike us that God was in it all along.
For that reason, we trust in the ways of God, believing that he is too wise to make a mistake.
On the wall of a concentration camp, a prisoner had carved these words:
I believe in the sun, even though it does not shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.
B. Faith believes that God is too kind to be cruel.
Over the marble fireplace in the mathematics Building of Princeton University, written in original German, is the scientific credo, "God is subtle, but he is not malicious." God is never malicious in his dealing with us. Whatever he does, he does for our good.
Rom. 8:28-29).The apostle Paul spoke of the kindness of God and his amazing grace when he wrote, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
These verses are as important for what they do not say as they are for what they say: They do not say that everything that happens is good—it isn’t. They do not say that God causes everything that happens—he doesn't. They do not say that everything will turn out okay for everyone—it won't.
What they do say is: God is at work in the world, especially in the lives of his children. His glorious purpose is to make us like his son, Jesus Christ. And to that good end, God can and does use all things—the good and the bad, that which he causes and that which he only permits. It assures us that no experience has to be a total waste. If we give it to God, he will take that experience and bring something good out of it.
C. Faith believes that God always knows best and does best in his time.
When we try to impose our timetable on God, we get into trouble. For example, a man found a cocoon on a tree in his yard. He was intrigued by it and decided to watch it change. One day, he saw a tiny butterfly inside the delicate covering and he watched it struggling, trying its best to break out of its captivity. Finally, the man became so frustrated that he decided to use a razor blade to make a tiny slit in the side of the cocoon, in order to free the struggling butterfly. Soon afterward, the butterfly was free, but it could not fly and finally died prematurely.
There are times of trials, when we want to short circuit the maturation process. We want to "bug out" or "beg off", while God wants to prepare us for a great work or a new phase of life. Like the butterfly, it is only in struggles that we obtain strength.
D. Faith believes that God is in control, and therefore, we can rest easily, if we so choose.
George Buttrick (An English Preacher who lived in the early part of the 20th century) has said, "The same sun that hardens the clay melts the wax."
It is our choice whether we will let the inevitable suffering and misfortune of life harden or soften us. We can choose to be hopeful or hopeless. We can decide whether we will be an optimist or a pessimist. It all depends on how we look at it, and we determine in which direction we look.
E. Faith believes that when we cannot trace the hand of God, we must trust the heart of God.
Hab. 3:19—Habakkuk continued his great affirmation of faith by saying, "God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.”
The deer Habakkuk is referring too was a mountain climbing deer known for its sure and steady feet. On the most treacherous terrain, it never fell.
This is the Lord's promise to us. He will keep us on our feet as we travel the treacherous paths of life. He may not get us out of the troubles, but he promises to get us through.
Where Is Your Faith?
Maybe your life is so dark that you can’t see God’s face. The darkness of the night, the fierceness of the storm, the frailness of your faith, causes you to wonder if God is there, to wonder if God cares.
Conclusion: God is here for you. He will never leave you. Never. He cares too much for you. Even if the night is dark and the storm is raging, know that God is here. Even when you can’t see the hand of God, you can trust the heart of God.
Will you trust him? Even if you don’t understand why, will you trust him? Trust him because you know that he knows why. Even if you wonder how long, will you trust him? Trust him because he knows the time and the length of suffering. Trust him without explanation, logic and reasoning. Trust him because he is God.