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Monday, August 13, 2012

Seeing God in the Rear-View Mirror

I suppose that all of us have had a crisis in our lives. Trouble is something that Jesus promised. Our faith does not inoculate us from these troubles. We get them just as those who have no faith. Maybe we get them more since they strengthen our faith.

Most of us wonder where God is during these troubles. We look for Him to rescue us and when that rescue doesn't come quickly we ask for why. Often there is silence. We can't see Him nor do we see Him work. It appears that He is doing nothing.

After the crisis passes we have a different story. We see what God was doing while we were in our trouble. We see what He was doing for us, with us and how He was bringing us out of that trouble. We  can't seem to see Him through the front windshield but we see Him clearly in the rear-view mirror.

Wasn't that the way it must have been for Joseph in the Old Testament? Surely, he failed to see God as things went from bad to worse.

Do you think Joseph saw God working when his brothers threw him in a pit?

Do you think Joseph saw God working when they sold him?

Do you think Joseph saw God working when as he worked as a slave?

Do you think Joseph saw God working when he was accused of a crime he didn't commit?

Do you think Joseph saw God working when he was thrown in prison?

Do you think Joseph saw God working when he was forgotten in prison?

Yet, when things were all done Joseph saw that God was indeed working during each of these terrible events in his life. When his brothers were afraid that he would exact revenge from them for what they had done Joseph said:

Genesis 50:20 (ESV) 
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 

Now, I suppose most of us have seen the hand of God working after the crisis has passed. In fact, I know that I have seen His handiwork all over my crisis after the crisis has passed. I didn't see this during the crisis. So, I'm asking:

Why don't we believe He is working when we can't see Him working when we know He is working for we have seen His work after the storm? In other words, doesn't God's character, which never deviates, prove that He is working even when we can't see Him working?

So, if you are in the middle of a crisis praise God for He is working for your good right now! I know, you may not be able to see it now but you will . . . in the rear-view mirror.


Anonymous said...

A few days ago, during my Bible read-thru time, I read a passage in Jeremiah that got me to thinking along the lines you've just written.

In Chapter 15, Jeremiah was having a hard time, and He was talking to God about it. In his little speech, which seemed to me to be a bit petulant, he included the idea that God didn't seem like He came thru all of the time. He said that God's help sometimes seemed like an uncertain stream that would run dry during times of drought.

(God's response to that was interesting, giving Jeremiah an "if you will; the I will" bit of direction, but that's not my point here.)

I have a blog where I sometimes journal my thoughts on the Scripture I've read. In my response to that passage, I wrote,

"Often, even to those as faithful to the Lord as was Jeremiah, God's help seems uncertain. That is not as faithless as it sounds. The truth is that sometimes disaster falls upon us despite our most fervent prayers. Like Jeremiah, we believe--anyway. The problem is that we are uncertain of what the Lord's help will look like. Sometimes it looks pretty bad...before it looks miraculous."

The difference between our ideas and God's and what we can and cannot see is why His help sometimes seems like an uncertain stream. Sometimes bad things do happen and that makes no sense to us.

Despite the faith preachers, faith does not guarantee an absence of disaster, just as you said. Real faith is trusting God, no matter what. Even when the creek bed is showing dry rocks instead of flowing anyway.

All of that to say, a big "Yes!" to your post. God is at work. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases...even during drought...His mercies never come to an end.

Trusting anyway,


Anonymous said...

I amen that - a big "Yes!" to Ps Prentis' post, Deb.

Perhaps, Ps Prentis, you are being too modest! I am sure you grew over time. And I believe Joseph did grow over time, too. When we have experienced crisis after crisis, and when we do grow, and one area of growth, is our faith in the CHARACTER of God, and therefore, His INTENT for us.

We may NOT understand God's action or inaction, but if indeed we do grow, we grow in the steadfastness of our belief that He NEVER intends evil for us. He cannot; it is impossible, because the character of God is such, and He is such - there can be no evil in Him; God is incapable of evil, for He is goodness-absolute or holiness (but there is always the demand of holiness, of God, although He NEVER intends you evil).

I am NOT saying that I will NEVER be found in the state of Jeremiah, as explained by Deb, but after crisis and crisis in my life, especially the last one, such a painful one, I have grown to focus on the CHARACTER of God, more than what can be seen as possible actions of God. And so, I have learned to appreciate such exhortation to praise God for who He is, first, and NOT, first, for what He has done, as was visible to us. Similarly, I am to seek His face, first, before I seek His hands.

I hope I have NOT been boastful, here; I am just stating that it is possible, and we should desire it, to grow and behold God for who He is - the holy and all wise God. The action or lack of action of God is NEVER unrighteous, and it is NEVER unwise. If it appears unrighteous to us, or it appears unwise to us, it is because we lack His righteousness, and we lack His wisdom. And we ought to grow in, standing on His promises (context and conditions considered), because the promises and Word of God is His Character. When we are within context, and we fulfill the required conditions, we can and should stand on the relevant promises of God. Romans 8:28, Ps 91, and Neh 1:5, are all powerful promises of God, but are with conditions.

Talking about conditions, the slant of present day’s preaching by overly grace preachers has caused us to develop a kind of taboo about conditions. But conditions are part and parcel of God’s ways of directing us. And so, I will say a little on the Jeremiah 15 that Deb mentioned.

Why all the negative pronouncements at the front part of the chapter? The answer is in verse 6, people rejected God. How do people reject God? People do all things God tells them NOT to do, and people don’t do the things God tells them to do; that is how people reject God. What is, do this, and do that, and don’t do this, and don’t do that? Directives from God or conditions of God. People ignored them, that was why God’s wrath would be aroused. God continued with that underscoring of conditions, was part and parcel of God’s ways of directing us, and He said repeatedly to Jeremiah, “If you will …., I will ….”


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Why does God want to direct us? Because we need to be directed. Because He loves us. Because He knows what is best for us. Because if we want to be His people, and He, our God, we got to be with Him according to His terms or according to who He is. For example, if you are bent to be evil, you cannot be His people, and He cannot be your God! It happened to Satan; we thank God that He is longsuffering with us! Don’t treat the conditions in the Word as taboo; they are there to guide us and direct us, so that we can be His people in His Kingdom.

Ps Prentis used rear-view mirror to express hindsight; on hindsight, we realised God was for us, in our affliction. Please pardon me for being crude, if I have eyes on my backside, I could use them while I am in it, the affliction, I mean; but I have none. Hindsight means after the facts; you know what, it is NOT as pleasing to God as is the case of you, without eyes on your backside, still exercise your faith in believing in Him, in that He is the holy and all wise God. It is faith that can please God, NOT facts. Even so, a humble and contrite heart, God despises NOT. Aim to grow from hindsight, so that the next time, you can be having the foresight.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions