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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who Can Understand God's Ways?

(We're continuing a series on the story of Uzzah. Click for the first installment here.)

AND DRUM Roll! The winner of the drawing for a copy of Dear God! He's Home! by Janet Thompson is....Lillian! Please send me your mailing address, Lillian, to me at kathyspeak @ aol.com (omit spaces).

What should be our attitude about what God allows in our lives--even when we don't consider the circumstance "good" in our definition?

Let's look to a story in I Samuel to discover the right attitude. Young Samuel is told by the Spirit of God:

 “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” (I Samuel 3:11-14).

Put yourself in Eli's place. Everything you've worked for will be destroyed. Your sons will be destroyed. You will be judged along with your sons. Could anything be any worse for a priest? And to know that the judgment comes because of your own sin and neglect? Wouldn't you want to defend yourself? At the least say, "Oh, come now, God, haven't you forgotten about some of the good things I did? Give me a little credit here." But no! God has declared judgment. How can that be good?

And what about God's reputation? Will unbelievers understand God's judgment or will they think God is some mean-spirited god who strikes people at whim? Shouldn't God want to just sweep everything under the carpet solely for the protection of His own Name? How can this be good?

What is God doing? What He's doing will cause everyone's ears to tingle when they hear of it (verse 14). Clarke's Commentary gives this analysis of the word "tingle": "The ears - shall tingle - It shall be a piercing word to all Israel; it shall astound them all; and, after having heard it, it will still continue to resound in their ears." 

God isn't holding back any punches. He's on a roll. How can this be good?

Eli, who has failed in so many ways, responds to God's verdict, and low and behold, he is an example for us. Because after the boy Samuel tells Eli of God's coming judgment, Eli replies, "It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him” (I Samuel 3:18).

Wow! What an affirmation! Whether it's Uzzah's death or the coming judgment of Eli and his family, here's the right response: God is God and I'm not; He knows the right definition of "good."

Dear friends, that must be our response. Even though God's ways make no sense to us in our finite understanding, God knows. He is the only true God. "It is the Lord." What He does is good. He can only do good. He cannot do bad or evil. There is no capability in Him to do bad or evil (James 1:13-17).  Everything He does is intended to bring good to everything and everyone. Only His definition of "good" is correct.

Maybe you've been calling something "good" and it seems so obvious that it is "good." But God isn't fulfilling that "good." In fact, it's the opposite. Therefore, we think it certainly can't be good that your prodigal is having everything go wrong. It certainly can't be good that your test results show the cancer has returned. It certainly can't be good that you are misunderstood. It certainly can't be good that you've been overlooked for promotion again! 

But friends, God knows what is truly good and He only fulfills that good--even when His created ones can't see it. As hard as it is, the Spirit can empower us to say, "It is the Lord's will. Let Him do what is good."

These are scary thoughts for me because I have a prodigal son. What will it take to bring him to the Lord? It seems obvious to me (!) that everything going well in his life would point him to the Lord. But instead, things go "wrong" time after time. It takes all the faith God gives me to trust that what God says is "good," is, indeed, "good." 

Let's encourage each other to believe God's definition of "good" is really good! Next time, we'll look back at the story of Uzzah again.   

2 comments:

  1. Kathy,
    Your wisdom here deeply touched my heart. So many things that have happened in my life, that I could never understand how God could call "good", but have chosen to trust Him with anyway....wow! This brought it all together for me, and even brought me some peace about some of those things. Thank you - it spoke to me so powerfully, I shared your link on my FB page. Powerful words. God bless you!

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  2. Oh, Laura, that means so much to me to know what I learned was meaningful for you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to write a comment. It really encourages me.

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