God didn’t protect me the other day.
He totally could have stopped the circumstance that happened.
But He didn’t.
And I was mad.
My head knows the answers:
God has higher ways.
His thought are not like ours.
He is good.
Everything He does is right.
But I was still mad.
I told Him that.
We hashed it out.
It took several days.
But in the end, I once again concluded that He is either God, or He is not.
And if I truly believe He is God then there is only one answer to give Him:
Your will be done.
I don’t have to like it.
I don’t have to understand it.
I don’t have to think it is the best course of action.
But I am not God.
And this is where the rubber meets the road on my faith.
What do I REALLY believe?
And do I TRULY trust Him?
I got to thinking about all the people that Jesus let down.
The people He frustrated.
I realized there is quite a list in just three short years of ministry!
It started with His very first miracle, turning water into wine.
His mom knew who He was and what He could do. So she asked for help.
He told her the timing wasn’t right.
Her response? She simply told the servants to do whatever He told them to do.
She didn’t nag, whine or yell.
She quietly believed and then sat back and watched.
His cousin John sent him a desperate message.
John, who had prepared the way for Him, knowing He was the Messiah.
John, who said, “I’m not even worthy to lace up his sandals.”
John, who said, “He must increase while I must decrease.”
He sat rotting in a dungeon simply because he told the Herod the truth about his sin.
John, from the depths of his pain cried out, “Are you really the One we’ve been waiting for? Or should we look for another?”
In other words, Jesus, did I waste my life on You? Are You really worth it?
Jesus was with the disciples when the storm came up.
With them in the boat – but not active against the storm.
He was sleeping.
And these seasoned fishermen cried out, “Don’t you care if we drown?”
Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother, His dear, dear friend, was very ill.
And then they sat and waited.
Because Jesus didn’t come.
He didn’t heal him.
He didn’t even send a message back with the messenger.
And when He finally did manage to show up it was four days too late.
Four days dead.
Decay had set in.
And all hope was lost.
And they said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died!”
The rich young ruler asked Jesus how to be saved.
And the answer Jesus gave him was a huge disappointment.
The words were, “Sell all that you have and come follow me.”
The message was, “Make me Plan A. The only plan. No other gods before Me.”
And the young man went away sad because he couldn’t let go.
The crowd in Jerusalem – hundreds of people – were so frustrated that Jesus rode in like a King but then didn’t do what they expected that they went from “Hosanna!” to “Kill him!” in a few short days.
Peter was so unprepared for seeing Jesus arrested that he went from “I would never disown You” to “I’ve never met him”.
Thomas was so shaken by His death that he refused to believe in His resurrection without proof.
Judas was so disappointed by Jesus’ overall behavior that he sold his location for a bag of coins.
Over and over again, Jesus did not respond “correctly”.
The person had one idea.
He had another.
The person had one plan.
He saw a bigger picture.
The person had one agenda.
He had an eternal perspective.
It is easy for me to look at their lives, their reactions, and judge them.
Find them wanting.
Wonder why they didn’t have more faith.
But in those cases, I know the end of the story.
The best wine ever tasted.
John praised by Jesus, held up as an example of faith.
Jesus calming the storm with just a few words.
The crucifixion leading to my redemption.
Peter’s denial showcasing how the Holy Spirit can transform a fearful coward to a bold and faithful minister.
Thomas’ doubt leading to Jesus blessing me and all of us who “have not seen and yet believed.”
Or, in the negative cases of the rich dude and Judas, their ultimate destruction because of their lack of belief.
I know the end of their stories.
But really, the only difference between their lives and mine is that I know the details of the ends of their stories.
I know the end of my story, too.
God has promised to be with me in trials.
To give me help in time of need.
To supply all that I need.
To give me wisdom when I ask.
To work out all things “in conformity to the purpose of His will.”
To show His glory – the evidence of Who He is – in every circumstance I face.
To work them ALL together for my good.
And to ultimately take me home to be with Him forever, leaving all the pain behind.
I know the end of my story.
I just don’t know the details.
How He will accomplish the impossible.
IF He will accomplish what I want or something else.
How long I will have to wait.
And what tests lie before me.
And that is where I get lost.
I want to know NOW how He is going to work this all out.
And I wonder at times IF He will work it all out.
But that is why He gave us all those people, all those stories.
They are examples of how He took the darkness and changed it to light.
How He transformed “impossible” to “done”.
How His delays were strategic.
His timing was perfect.
And His non-answers were leading to better, bigger, more glorious results.
So that is why I love the message Jesus sent back to John as he sat in Herod’s dungeon. John’s disciples asked and He said nothing. He just proceeded to do the work God gave Him. Here is how Luke records it:
“At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.”
But then Jesus spoke:
“So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
So what will I do the next time Jesus lets me down?
I pray that I will choose to believe.
Believe that He is good.
That everything He does is right.
That His higher ways really are better than mine.
That He can be trusted.
And I pray that I will not stumble because I don’t understand.
Because He is not a vending machine.
Or a genie in a bottle.
He is not a puppet I control with certain prayers or words or actions.
He is not Someone I can fully understand.
But He is good.
And He is for me.
And I pray that the next time He offends me, this will be my immediate answer:
“I trust You. Your will be done.”