Keith Hunt - Trials, Tests, and Troubles? #3 - Page Three   Restitution of All Things

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Trials, Tests, and Troubles? #3

When God doesn't make sense


                             by

                         Keith Hunt




WHEN GOD DOESN'T MAKE SENSE

     A little saying I came across some time ago goes like this:
Just when you thought you were winning the rat race, along come
faster rats.
     Have you experienced times in your life, situations in your
life, happenings in your life or in the life of your family, when
you seemed to be winning the race, you had really got the handle
on the use of wisdom, there was no big sin in your life that you
were hiding from people, no skeleton in the closet, you were
honestly trying to live by every word of God, and all seemed to
be going on a win win playing field.  Then out of the blue, like
a thunderbolt from a clear cloudless sky, you were hit it would
seem "below the belt" to have the wind knocked right out of you.

     I had entered the Church of God during the very early 60's,
when we had our first local minister about 1965 I was soon being
used for various duties within the church.  As I had some music
ability it was my responsibility to keep in touch with others in
the group who had musical talents.  A family came into the church
with such gifts, it was not long and I was a good friend of
theirs.  They had 3 or 4 children(my memory escapes me now on the
exact number).  I soon got to know all of them.  They were a
quiet serene type family, very humble and deeply dedicated to
serving the Lord.
     I was very spiritually impressed with their eldest daughter,
she was about 14 or 15.  A pretty young teenager with all of her
life ahead of her.  When visiting her parents I had often spoken
to her about the way of the Lord.  She was very mature for her
age and sincerely wanted to know and serve God.  I knew it was
only a matter of time before she would be baptized.
     One week I received a phone call from the minister telling
me this young lady was sick, he had anointed her, but would I go
and visit the family and keep close in touch with them letting
him know how things were going (the sickness was one of those
very rare and odd "house polluted" viruses, you hardly ever hear
of it in the Western world). Some of the others in the family
were only partly sick.
     Of course I was off to visit those parents and their lovely
sick daughter.  We talked about the Lord, and how we were all in
His hands.  We all, including this young lady, looked to God for
healing.
     Because things did not get any better after a few days, the
minister advised the parents to call in the medical doctors.  So
done, they also seemed lost as to what to do, but they finally
said she should be admitted to the hospital, and she was.  I can
not remember now what the doctors diagnosed this teenager with,
but it was serious. I do remember that back in the middle 1960s
the medical doctors had nothing to fight this decease with, they
were hopeless to know how to treat or kill this strange virus
infection she had.
     One evening I decided to visit this sick young lady in the
hospital.  What a great visit, again we talked about the Lord,
His healing power,there was no doubt on her part or mine, that
God of course can heal any sickness, if He chooses to so do.

     I had no problem talking to her about the seriousness of her
sickness, it was life threatening, she knew it, I knew it, the
minister knew it, her mother and father knew it, the doctors knew
it. I had already visited with her parents, they knew her life
was in God's hands. The doctors in the 60's could not help, it
was beyond their medicines at that time.
     What a spiritually mature young lady she was.  I talked
openly to her about life and about death, and about all of us
being in God's hands.  She believed all that, she told me she was
ready for whatever was the will of God.

     The next day I was told she had died.  I must admit to you I
was somewhat shocked to hear that news.  I was confident God
would heal her.  A beautiful, clean living, spiritually maturing
girl, one that was obedient to her parents, loved to attend
church and read God's word.  Here was a young lady that one day
would have made a lovely Christian wife and mother for some man,
and the Lord allowed her to DIE!
     I could not understand WHY!  It just did not make any sense
to me.  I still have no answer to this day as to the reason why
the Lord did not heal her.  He could have that is for sure.  He
has and still does heal people from what otherwise would be sure
death.  Yet this young lady died at the beginning of her prime.

     At times it would seem to us moral flesh that God just
doesn't make sense.

     A number of years back I heard about a family (did not know
them personally) who were on their way to observe a Christian
festival.  Travelling to this fall festival they had done
faithfully year after year.  This was nothing new to them, it was
a regular custom.
     Here they are minding their own business, doing nothing
wrong or illegal as they were driving along, when out of the
blue, through no fault of their own, along comes some truck and
SMASH BAG! I believe 5 or 6, all of them from one family - wiped
out, KILLED!!  And this happened on their way to attend a feast
of the Lord. Why you ask?  I asked the same question, but it did
happen.

     There are times when to us mortals God just does not seem to
make sense.  Why didn't He send His angel to protect them from
that disaster, He has and does give protection through His
angelic beings.  Why did He not do it for them on that day?  I
have no answer for YOU.

     I will quote for you what I consider are some very pertinent
passages on this topic, from the book "When God Doesn't Make
Sense" by Dr.James Dobson.

     "Unfortunately, many young believers - and some older ones
too - do not know that there will be times in every person's life
when circumstances don't add up - when God doesn't appear to make
sense....My chief concern at this point, and the reason I have
chosen to write this book, is for my fellow believers who are
struggling with circumstances that don't make sense.  In my work
with families who are going through various hardships, from
sickness and death to marital conflict and adolescent rebellion,
I have found it common for those in crisis to feel great
frustration with God.  This is particularly true when things
happen that seem illogical and inconsistent with what had been
taught or understood.  Then if the Lord does not rescue them from
the circumstances in which they are embroiled, their frustration
quickly deteriorates into anger and a sense of abandonment. 
Finally disillusionment sets in and the spirit begins to wither."
(pages 9,12).

     You may be asking the question concerning my first true
example above: How did the parents of the young teenager who died
take it all?  Like spiritually seasoned veterans, a real
inspiration to all of us.  They did not doubt God, they did not
blame Him, did not get angry at Him, or loose their faith in Him
or His word.

     Back to Dr.Dobson's book:

     "......those who live long enough will eventually be
confronted by happenings they will not understand. That is the
human condition.  Let me say it again: It is an incorrect view of
Scripture to say that we will always comprehend what God is doing
and how our suffering and disappointment fit into His plan. 
Sooner or later, most of us will come to a point where it appears
that God has lost control - or interest in the affairs of people.

It is only an illusion, but one with dangerous implications for
spiritual and mental health.  Interestingly enough, pain and
suffering do not cause the greatest damage.  Confusion is the
factor that shreds one's faith....The God whom he has loved,
worshipped, and served turns out to appear silent, distant, and
uncaring in the moment of greatest need.  Do such times come even
to the faithful?  Yes, they do, although we are seldom willing to
admit it within the Christian community. " (pages 13,15).

     Confusion along with the whispers of Satan the devil at such
times of pain, sorrow, trial and trouble, can cause some to
reject God, throw in the towel, give up the battle, declare
defeat and turn back to wallow in the muck of the unconverted
world.
     Sadly, I have seen that happen among ones who knew and lived
the truth at one time.  A very good friend of mine at one time in
the Church of God, an older man than myself, but we were very
close because he, his wife, and I, were three of the six founding
members of the church in our city.  This man had one of his two
sons killed one night by a hit and run driver.  He was
hitch-hiking from one part of the county to another when someone
hit him into the ditch with their car.  They may not even have
known they hit him, but if they did they never stopped to help,
and he died shortly after.
     In their grief, both his father and mother left the church
and turned away from following the true God and His way of life.

     As Dobson has written in his aforementioned book:

     "When the heat is on and confusion mounts, some believers go
through a horrendous spiritual crisis.  They 'lose God.' Doubts
rise up to obscure His presence and disillusionment settles into
despair.  The greatest frustration is knowing that He created the
entire universe by simply speaking it into existence, and He has
all power and all understanding.  He could rescue.  He could
heal.  He could save.  But why won't He do it?  This sense of
abandonment is a terrible experience for someone whose entire
being is rooted in the Christian ethic.  Satan then drops by for
a little visit and whispers, 'He is not here!  You are alone!'"

     Then as James Dobson goes on to say:

     "What does such a person do when God makes no sense?  To
whom does he confess his troubling - even heretical - thoughts? 
From whom does he seek counsel?  What does he tell his family
when his faith is severely shaken?  Where does he go to find a
new set of values and beliefs?  While searching for something
more reliable in which to believe, he discovers that there is no
other name - no other God - to whom he can turn....Christians who
lose God during a period of spiritual confusion are like the vine
that has been cut off from its source.  They are deprived of
nurture and strength.  They seem to cope at first, but the
concealed wound is mortal.  They begin to wither in the heat of
the sun....Indeed, some of the most bitter, unhappy people on the
earth are those who have become estranged from the God they no
longer understand or trust....If you are among those people who
have been separated from the Vine because of disillusionment or
confusion, I have written with you in mind." (pages 18-20).

     Yes, and if there is anyone reading this article who is in a
state of confusion over this subject, then I recommend you go out
and buy or borrow Dr.Dobson's book "When God Doesn't Make Sense"
and read it in its entirety.

     We must realize that it is God who made the universe, made
all there is, established the laws of nature.  It is He who made
mankind and not we who made Him, although some like to make God
into their own image.
     We are finite, He is infinite.  We are lacking in and
growing in knowledge, He is all knowing and perfect in knowledge.

We can not see what lies beyond in the next hour, He can see far
into the future.
     Although He does give us a portion of searching a thing out,
there are many things He conceals from us in this physical life -
Proverbs 25:2.
     Sometimes and in some ways God does hide Himself from us -
Isaiah 45:15.
     There are things that the Lord has chosen to keep to
Himself, for now at least - Deuteronomy 29:29.

     We need at times to remember Ecclesiastes 11:5 which says,
"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is
formed in the mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of
God, the Maker of all things."

     Isaiah 55:8-9 teaches,,"For my thoughts are not your
thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."'

     As Dr.Dobson has written: " Clearly, the Scriptures tell us
we lack the capacity to grasp God's infinite mind or the way He
intervenes in our lives.  How arrogant of us to think otherwise! 
Trying to analyze His omnipotence is like an amoeba attempting to
comprehend the behavior of man.  Romans 11:33 (KJV) indicates
that God's judgments are un-searchable and His ways 'past
finding out.' Similar language is found in 1 Corinthians 2:16:
'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct
Him?' Clearly, unless the Lord chooses to explain Himself to us,
which often He does not, His motivation and purposes are beyond
the reach of mortal man.  What this means in practical terms is
that many of our questions especially those that begin with the
word 'why' - will have to remain unanswered for the time being.
     "The Apostle Paul referred to the problem of unanswered
questions when he wrote, 'Now we see but a poor reflection as in
a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known' (1 Corinthians
13:12).  Paul was explaining that we will not have the total
picture until we meet in eternity.  By implication we must learn
to accept partial understanding" (When God Doesn't Make Sense,
pages 8,9).

     It can be very easy when in a time of severe testing, trial,
or trouble (if not with all the amour of God - Ephesians 6), to
say things with our mouth that we ought not say.  Some have said
such things as: "It has been an error to become a Christian" or
"It is a waste of time to serve God - I have all these troubles -
I should quit."

     Take note what is taught us in Ecclesiastes 5 and verse 6.
Such thoughts and words are from the mind of the Adversary -
Satan!  He is able to tempt us to sin by these very thoughts.  He
can even put such thoughts into our mind.  If that should happen
we need to be able and ready to say "get behind me Satan, for you
say not the things that be of God."

     It may seem hard at times to understand God.  There will
probably be times when it may seem God does not make sense.  But
the word of this God says "the just shall live by faith and not
by sight."
     No matter how hard it may be for our fleshly finite mind to
handle certain situations that may arise in our lives, the true
Christian must believe with all faith and trust the verse of
Romans 8:28, "And we know that all work together for good to them
that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."

GOD IS WITH TO HELP YOU - HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU!

     I know it may be of little comfort to quote to you Romans
8:28 when your daughter has just been raped by some beast of a
man, or your neighbor has sexually molested your son or daughter.

It is hard to understand that verse when you have just lost your
wife or husband in a car crash due to a drunk driver, or when a
gang of thugs has beaten up your son on his way home from school.
     Yes, a hard to comprehend verse in the light of all the
things that this life may dish out to us.
     During the time Job was going through all his pain,
suffering and troubles, he couldn't at the time comprehend the
why of it either.
     Yet Job knew that tests, trials, and troubles, are not given
to us with the view in mind to turn us away from God and His way
of life. We need to pray and ask the Lord to help us ingrain in
our minds the attitude that Job exhibited when he was under
pressure from his troubles, pain, and sorrow - his words were:

     "Shall we receive GOOD AT THE HANDS of the Lord, and shall
we not receive EVIL.  The Lord GAVE and the Lord hath TAKEN AWAY,
blessed be the name of the Lord."

     Consider the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 17.  Verses 3 and
4 say, "Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself
by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.  And it shall be,
that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the
ravens to feed thee there."
     That was very good news for Elijah because of the drought in
the land at the time.  At least he was not going to die of
thirst. But now look at verse 7, "And it came to pass after a
while, that the brook DRIED UP...."
     Elijah was human, I suspect he may have questioned if God
was making any sense.  He sends him to a brook to sustain him AND
THE BROOK RUNS DRY!  He may even have wondered if God had left
him, forgotten about him. But no, the next verse tells us God was
still with him.  He had other plans for him in the overall scheme
of things.

     There may be times when everything looks like it is
unravelling in our lives and the Lord is busy doing something
else more important than watching over us.  But for the Christian
nothing could be further from the truth.
     I personally have experienced times like this.  I just could
not understand the Lord and what was going on in my life.  I was
trying to serve Him with all my heart, soul and mind, I wanted to
do His will.  I had prayed and prayed.  And things were just not
working out the way I wanted or thought they should.  I could
have easily got myself into the attitude that God had turned His
back on me.  Satan wants us to do just that during such
troublesome times.
     The Lord had not left me at all.  He was working His work in
my life, although I could not understand it at the time.  Now as
I look back on it all years later, I see that without those
experiences I would not be the man I am today.  Those sore trials
and troubles of yesterday are able to help me be a more
considerate, patient, sympathetic and understanding minister of
the gospel today.

     Remember the disciples at the time of Jesus' death and the
days shortly after.  They had been with Christ for three and one
half years.  They had heard Him preach the wonderful truths of
God, they had seen the many great miracles He had performed. 
They were convinced that He was indeed the very Son of the Most
High God. Then they had seen how mortal man was able to beat and
tear Him apart, then nail Him to a stake and there they heard Him
cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"
     It seemed to them that God had left them.  Peter said, "I'm
goin' fishin'." They had a severe problem of perception.  All
they saw was what the facts seemed to say and they could not
harmonize them with all the facts of the previous three years. 
They thought God had left them, that He was no longer with them. 
It was only later that they could see where the Lord had never
left them, but was working out His purpose in His time and at His
will.

     David knew God was intimately interested in human beings ALL
THE TIME: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of
man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:4 NIV).  And again in Psalm
139: "O Lord, you have searched me and you KNOW ME.  You know
when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with
ALL MY WAYS. Before a word is on my tongue you know it
completely, 0 Lord" (verses 1-4, NIV, emphasis mine).

     The word teaches us that God loves His children infinitely
more than we, "being evil," (as Jesus once put it) can express to
our own flesh and blood.

     Jesus said that the heavenly Father knew each sparrow that
falls, He provides food for them, so how much more is He
concerned about us humans who are made in His image and after His
likeness. God knows the very number of hairs on our head.  He
never leaves those who are truly His children, begotten with His
Holy Spirit, heirs of His Kingdom, co-heirs with Christ Jesus
(Romans 8:14-17).

     Jesus promised His disciples of all ages that He would never
leave them.  He said that those who loved Him would be loved of
the Father.  That those who would keep His words both He and the
Father would come and live within them (John 14:21,23).

     God the Father is not some whimsical fellow who uses us,
plays with us, and then casts us aside to forget about us for a
while.  NO NOT AT ALL!  Once we have been converted and are
filled with His Spirit, He is always there with us even in our
darkest and roughest trials and storms of life.

     The story in Matthew 8:23-26 is a fine example.  Jesus,
during His ministry while on earth, could hardly be accused of
"making it easy" or "soft touching" the men whom He chose for His
inner circle.
     You are familiar with the story I believe.  Picture them in
a small boat late one evening. Jesus had had a busy day, so He
grabs a cushion and goes off to a corner of the boat for a "cat
nap." While He slept a "furious storm" came up.  Remember some of
the disciples were professional fishermen and they knew very well
what a storm could do to a small craft and those in it. They
became ever more frightened, possibly naturally so you may
think, but Jesus, when they awoke Him, for fear they would all
drown:, did not think they should have been so afraid.  He said
to them: "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (NIV).

     Stop and think about it, there was Jesus the Christ, the
very Son of God, indeed God in the flesh, WITH THEM in the boat,
unconcerned, asleep, but yet with them.  He had not said, "Oh,
guys please excuse me, I'm staying on land for I know what is
coming later out there on the sea."  He did not leave them, even
when the stormy billows blew, He was there while they struggled
through it.  They should have had faith that with God in the boat
with them all would work out okay in the end, for God never
leaves us especially when we need Him the most.

     Let me go back to Dr.James Dobson's book "When God Doesn't
Make Sense" and quote some pertinent thoughts of his on this
point.

     ".......a person who really believes that all trouble will
be swept away for the followers of Christ, is left with no
logical explanation when God fails to come through.  Sooner or
later an illness, a business collapse, an accident, or some other
misfortune will leave him in dismay.  What is he to believe when
he discovers 'life as it is' turns out to be very different than
'life as it is supposed to be'?  He stumbles toward one of
several conclusions,, all of which are potentially damaging to
his faith: (1) God is dead, irrelevant, bored, or uninvolved in
the affairs of man; (2) God is angry at me or some sin I've
committed ; (3) God is whimsical, untrustworthy, unfair or
sinister; (4) God ignored me because I didn't pray enough or
display enough faith. All four of these alternatives serve to
isolate that individual from God at the precise moment when his
spiritual need is the greatest.  I believe it is a ploy of Satan
to undermine the faith of the vulnerable....There are so many
other sources of pain.  I am mindful of those among my readers
who are hurting for less catastrophic reasons, such as adult
children of alcoholics, those who have been overweight from
childhood, those who have been physically or sexually abused in
the early years, and people who are blind, quadriplegic,
chronically ill, etc.  I'm also concerned for the single mothers
who wonder how long they can carry the load that is upon their
shoulders.  A million different scenarios exist, but they all
point to a similar kind of frustration. And most of them bear
theological implications....No, I can't provide tidy little
solutions to all of life's annoying inconsistencies.  That will
not occur until we see the Lord face to face.  But his heart is
especially tender toward the down-trodden and the defeated.  HE
KNOWS YOUR NAME AND HE HAS SEEN EVERY TEAR YOU HAVE SHED.  He was
there on each occasion when life took a wrong turn. And what
appears to be divine disinterest or cruelty is a misunderstanding
at best and a satanic lie at worst. 
     How do I know this to be true? Because the Scriptures
emphatically tell us so.  For starters, David wrote, 'The Lord is
CLOSE to the brokenhearted and SAVES those who are crushed in
spirit.' (Psalm 34:18).
     Isn't that a beautiful verse?  How encouraging to know that
the very presence of the King - the Creator of all heaven and
earth - hovers near to those who are wounded and discouraged.  IF
YOU COULD FULLY COMPREHEND HOW DEEPLY YOU ARE LOVED, YOU WOULD
NEVER FEEL ALONE AGAIN.  David returned to that thought in Psalm
103:11: 'For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great
is his love for those who fear him.'" (pages 110, 111, 235-236,
emphasis mine).

     Then we have that wonderful section of inspired scripture in
Romans the eighth chapter beginning with verse 26.
     When in times of such mental and emotional distress that it
is practically impossible to put the words together in prayer to
the Father in heaven, then the Spirit - Christ Jesus (verse 34) -
makes INTERCESSION "for us with groanings which cannot be
uttered."

     No matter what may be our trials, tests, and troubles.  No
matter how small or LARGE, God is ALWAYS there, He never LEAVES
US!

     Remember the famous little poem called "Footprints."

     The person relating the story tells you about two sets of
footprints in the sand.  Their own and those of the Lord as He
walked alongside them.  Then in the most difficult and
troublesome time of life there was only one set of prints.  Our
story-teller asks the Lord why He left them at the time they
needed Him the most.  The Lord answers them: "Oh, my child when
you saw only one set of foot prints that was not when I left you,
that was the time I CARRIED you."

                      .................

TO BE CONTINUED

Written August 1995


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