I love hearing others’ “God Stories”. I love hearing how God has worked in the lives of other people. I get a bigger picture of who God is, and how He works, and I get a picture of faith.
I think that is why I love to read stories of faith in scripture—where people have taken God at His Word and stepped out in faith to do what He has told them to do: Noah building the ark, Moses parting the Red Sea, Joseph and Mary taking Jesus to Egypt to prevent Him from being killed by Herod’s soldiers.
The problem I have, is that I can tend to put God in a box. “If I do this…. God will do this.” I can start to put my relationship with God in a “formula”.
Before my son Sean died, I thought I had the “secret” formula for life. If I did a, b, c—God would do x, y and z.
I am here to tell you, there is no secret formula for life. Isn’t that what Job found out? He lost his children, his wealth, his health, he lost everything. God never really answers Job’s questions about why?
Job could have said, “But God, I thought we had a deal. I obey You. I worship You. I follow all Your rules. You bless me. You protect me. You protect my family. You provide for us.”
If I’m honest, this is the scary thing about having a relationship with God. I want God to do what I want Him to do. I want Him to act, the way I expect Him to act. He does promise us that He will provide for us. He does promise us that He will protect us. He does promise us that if we have enough faith, we can move mountains. So, I’m left with the belief that maybe if God doesn’t come through—the way I expect Him to– maybe it’s my fault. Maybe, I’ve sinned, maybe, I’ve done something wrong.
That is what Job’s friends told Job—”It’s not God’s fault that all these bad things have happened to you, it’s your fault, you’ve sinned.”
Yet, that wasn’t the right answer in Job’s situation either.
After Sean died, there were others who thought that if we had, had enough faith, Sean would have lived. Or there were others who thought that maybe we had “sinned” in some way, and God was punishing us.
When Sean died, I was faced with the question: Did I really love God, because I knew Him, and I loved Him for Who He Was, or did I just love His blessings?
If I’m honest, I loved God’s blessings, and I obeyed and trusted God, because I hoped that I would win His blessings.
When God took one of His blessings away from me, I questioned His existence, His power, His love.
I used to look at verses like Romans 8:18: “For I consider the sufferings of this present time, not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed” and think—what—suffering????—I don’t want to suffer!!!!!
Honestly—who really wants to suffer? No one that I know does. In fact, I have tried to escape from suffering most of my life.
When I would hear others’ God’s stories—in some way, they involved suffering—but they also involved God showing up and revealing Himself in the midst of the suffering—and that is what I liked—I liked the glory that was revealed. God is the glory that was revealed.
That is what happens with suffering—it reveals God to us in a way, we had not “seen” Him before. Suffering helps us get a bigger picture of God; it gets God out of the boxes we put Him in.
I still hate to suffer. I still want to escape from suffering. I still would not choose to go through the sufferings I have endured. I still would not choose to have lost my son.
However, my son is not, “Lost” to me. I know where he is because I know Who he is with. I know the Lord that Sean is with, in a way, I would not have-unless I had suffered.
I think Job’s sufferings brought about a revelation of God in his life that he would not have had unless he had suffered.
And yes—I now agree with Romans 8:18: “For I now consider the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed.”
So how do I put my life in the hands of this God, how do I trust this God—who could choose to take away any blessing from me at any time? I do so, because this God loved me and emptied Himself of His divine qualities, took on flesh, came to earth and died for me.
This God gave up His life for me, to rescue me from eternal suffering and bring me into His Kingdom and make me an heir to His Kingdom. This God put His Spirit in my life, and made me a new creature, worthy of His Kingdom. This God promises to never leave me, never forsake me, to always be with me.
This song–I will Praise You In This Storm– was sung at Sean’s funeral. It still has the power to comfort me. My husband and I held hands and lifted them, when this song was sung at Sean’s funeral.
Therefore, I can join the disciples mentioned in Acts 5:14, who rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer for this God’s Name—so that others might know this God as well. These are hard truths, filled with immense freedom to live for Jesus, love Jesus and let go of all that would hinder us in this race we are in. May we be encouraged!!