Monday, April 14, 2008

What for?

I used to think that good things come from God and bad things from the devil.
I've changed my mind.
One can not reconcile the above thought to the story of Job.

This has been a conundrum for me in the past, whether or not a troubling circumstance is an attack on my life from the enemy (devil) or whether it's from God to make me stronger. How do I pray then? Do I pray for relief from the attack or for strength to persevere?

This last year is when my mind truly changed on the subject. Isn't it amazing how the mind can be changed so easily? You read a book or talk to someone you trust and there you go, a change of thinking has been introduced... but I digress. My mind was changed at a time when I was really struggling with issues inside and out. I had to ask myself what do I really believe and why? I became grounded in the thought that God does not cause bad things to happen.

I have come to the belief that God allows difficulty into our little spheres of life. But, God, what for? I don't always understand the what for, but then, I don't understand His ways either. They are so much higher than mine. My answer to the "what for" question can only come from experience then. It has been in my difficult times--whether they be money issues, relationship issues, internal struggles, sickness, loss--that I have been made to run... run to the Father, my refuge, my help. I have also seen, in my experiences, a purpose in the difficulty, and usually that purpose involves a type of refining or sifting of character. I can list so many things that I have seen sifted out of me: pride, unbelief, worry, selfishness, etc... and they will need to be sifted again, I'm sure ;-D.

"And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.'" ~Luke 22:31
Whoa! Satan asked for him? That is kinda scary. And yet, that shows me, that ultimately, satan is just a puppet, used by God for His purposes.

I have really been enjoying the book "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things" by Beth Moore. It has been especially good for me to read it coupled with her other book, "Breaking Free". In the "Godly People..." book, she studies Job and Peter and asks the same question, why? Why would God allow the devil to "sift" us. She makes a good point in that, if there is sifting going on, then there is something to be sifted out! God wants to refine, sift the fake right out of us, so that we may be genuine. In "Breaking Free" she speaks of the captivities we get entangled in and says, "A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for him/her." I bet those hindrances are ones God aims to get at as well. He sometimes desires our freedom even more than we do!

Of course, I do not welcome difficulty nor look forward to it, but if it means that I will be a little more refined, that He may see His reflection in me, then So Be It! I will try my best to accept it. And to ask, when the difficulties have passed, did you get it out, Lord?!

"THOU givest within and without precisely what the soul needs for its advancement in a life of faith and self-renunciation. I have then only to receive this bread, and to accept, in the spirit of self-sacrifice, whatever Thou shalt ordain, of bitterness in my external circumstances, or within my heart. For whatever happens to me each day is my daily bread, provided I do not refuse to take it from Thy hand, and to feed upon it."

~christa jean


Elizabeth said...

Hi Christa!

I enjoyed your blog subject today. A deep issue and one I struggled intensely with for YEARS. My favorite verse speaking on the topic of causing/allowing is at the end of Genesis 50. Joseph is able to forgive the brothers who sinned so greatly against him because he knows that God's good sovereign plans are inextricably intertwined, over, under, inside and out of the things we do and that are done to us. (Even the sin!) The things that seem like "bad things"...just SEEM. But...are NOT. We mortals lack the handy ability to see into the eternal realm.

Joseph was able to say to those who betrayed him to death:

"Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God MEANT it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

And in fact, on a global scale...thousands and thousands of Egyptians and Israelites were saved from famine, as a result of what God allowed...caused...but certainly meant? (It still boggles me!)

I struggled with that cause/allow thing pretty fiercely until one day when I read that one beautfiul word... "MEANT"... and realized it has everything to do with the meaning, the motive, and the great plan of REDEMPTION! It is that concept that made me able to reconcile God being the causative force behind it all. Like a loving Father who allows (causes?-doh!) the frightened child to undergo a lifesaving (yet painful!) operation, His motives are good. Our heavenly father has both the love of a Daddy and the power of the surgeon. More so. He can secure the outcome.

"...and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose"

(Hope any of that makes any sense--and I PRAY that it doesn't come across as debate-ish in nature. Just food for thought...ish.);)

I REALLY appreciate this post and love the deep thoughts. Thanks for sharing! We sure do serve a GREAT BIG WONDERFUL GOD!


christa jean said...

Yes, thank you for your insights, Liz! This whole "cause/allow" thing could just be semantics... For God caused the world to come into being and He had just cause to send Jesus to be crucified. You are right about the shallowness of thinking things seem "bad" when they will eventually be worked out for His good! That is such a comforting thought. I suppose my posting is slightly flawed in it's theology! But I'm so glad God helped me fiqure out, like you, that there is a reason for everything. He is behind it all! Even using satan for His glory!

DotBlogger said...

Hi Christa Jean,
Thank you for allowing us a look into your thoughts and understanding of what God is teaching you. Your insights are wonderful to read for they show a little bit of your heart.

I like your willingness to accept the hard things in life, knowing that God will make it good in the end, and that by the end, a sifting of spirit and character will have occured...for the better!

I'm going to remember this during my rough times and ask God to sift the uglies and purify me during the struggle. Because, like you said, He allowed the struggle in the first place, so there's going to be a good ending if I allow Him to work in my life. I'm thinking that there's the real clincher... if I try to "fight my fights" alone, I'm not sure God will show me the goodness He had for me in the end if I didn't allow Him to help me get through it. But maybe He will anyway just because He is like that...always good.