Over the last several years I have learned the reality that “stuff” happens, yet even in the midst of it, my Father has consistently shown His love and provided the Grace to sustain my hope and faith. This is confirmed through the experiences of the Psalmist:
“Do not let floodwaters sweep me away.
Do not let the ocean swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Yahweh, because your mercy is good.
Out of your unlimited compassion, turn to me.
I am in trouble, so do not hide your face from me.
Answer me quickly!” (Psalm 69:15-17).
Tozer understood this when he wrote,
“How deeply do men err who conceive of God as subject to our human will or as standing respectfully to wait upon our human pleasure.” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of Man)
Even C.S. Lewis saw this. In the acclaimed Chronicles of Narnia, series, characters often stated that “Aslan is not a tame lion.” The metaphor is certainly accurate. Our God is not tame; he does not answer to us, nor is he our servant or our butler. These basic facts appear to be lost in today’s church, where it seems normal for some Christians to believe that God indeed does our bidding. So few are willing to dispute the belief that “God is a gentleman” and “God will not interfere with a person’s free will.”
Sure, we may not join with those who teach that humans can indeed become gods, we nonetheless embrace doctrines and teachings that strip Yahweh’s sovereignty and hand it over to humans. I don’t know how you see it, but it seems to bring us dangerously close to elevating the created above the Creator. One commentator saw this trend back in 1918 and, perhaps somewhat prophetically, wrote:
The trend of modern theology . . . is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom ~A.W. Pink
This is why we must admit that clearly, there are times when the waters of affliction do flood the lives of the godly:
“You have purified us with fire O Lord, like silver in a crucible. You captured us in your net and laid great burdens on our backs. You sent troops to ride across our broken bodies. We went through fire and flood. But in the end, you brought us into wealth and great abundance” (Psalm 66:10-12).
“Before I suffered, I used to wander off,
but now I hold on to your word . . . It was good that I had to suffer
in order to learn your laws” (Psalm 119:67, 71).
No, our Father did not cause our afflictions. I mean, the Prophet Isaiah assured us that when he wrote,
“He will not break off a damaged cattail.
He will not even put out a smoking wick.
He will faithfully bring about justice” (Isaiah 42:3)
But these verses also make it perfectly clear that during the times of affliction and times of suffering we can be drawn closer to our Lord, and yes, that can be a scary thought. Consider the Psalmist’s testimony:
I love Yahweh because he hears my voice, my pleas for mercy.
I will call on him as long as I live
because he turns his ear toward me.
The ropes of death became tangled around me.
The horrors of the grave took hold of me.
I experienced pain and agony.
But I kept calling on the name of Yahweh:
“Please, Yahweh, rescue me! (Psalm 116:1-4).
The important thing to notice here is that the Psalmist was a faithful servant who loved God and also had great faith. But despite all that, he faced the sorrows of pain, trouble, and death. But as Solomon stated, “Sorrow is better than laughter, [Huh?] for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better and gains gladness,” that “sadness has a refining influence on us” (Ecclesiastes 7:3 Living Bible). “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret His sending it” (II Corinthians 7:10). As I have often said, it is unfortunate that this “refining influence” can’t be found in our times of peace and prosperity. But, the realities of God’s Kingdom will only be unveiled to us when the love of everything this world has to offer has been stripped from our grasp.
Throughout the Scriptures, you find this theme. The entire Word of God loudly declares that the path to faith is often through the floods and fires:
“Your road went through the sea.
Your path went through raging water,
but your footprints could not be seen.” (Psalm 77:19).
“I am going to do something new.
It is already happening. Don’t you recognize it?
I will clear a way in the desert.
I will make rivers on dry land” (Isaiah 43:19).
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you won’t be burned; neither will the flame kindle on you” (Isaiah 42:3).
“I am the LORD your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
This last verse holds something important for us to hold on to: In every wilderness, we face, our Father is holding our hand. Yet only those who are willing go through the wilderness get this hand of comfort. As one writer stated, “He outstretches it to those who are caught in raging rivers of trouble.”
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I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.