We serve a God who is vastly more subtle than we understand.
When we think we understand what he is doing in our lives or in the world, he is often acting with purposes and to ends which we have not seen or comprehended.
The grand narratives of the Bible are full of events in which it seems that God is doing one thing when in truth he is doing something else. Think about:
- Joseph being sold into slavery, wrongly accused and thrown into prison . . . and then being elevated to a high position in which he could deliver mercy to his family: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” It appeared that God had abandoned Joseph, but in reality he was delivering Joseph (and his family as well).
- The nation which came from Abraham being enslaved in Egypt, . . . and after 400 years becoming a large nation united and able to endure hardship, prepared to enter a covenant with God. It appeared that God had abandoned the nation, but in reality he was preparing it for the Law and the Land.
- That nation eventually rebelling in so many ways and over such a long period of time that first Assyria and then Babylon invaded . . . and then after many years returning, chastened, to the Land. Again, it appeared that God had abandoned the nation, but in reality he was purifying it for true worship.
- The people of God declining into subjugation to mighty, cruel Rome . . . and then after many years being given a delivering Messiah. Yet again it appeared that God had abandoned his people, but in reality he was preparing them for Messiah. (And yet, even then, God was not doing the thing they expected, since the Messiah had not – not yet – come to make a physical deliverance, but to offer a spiritual deliverance.)
I could go on and on. I could tell you about the lives of Job and Jacob and David and Daniel and Paul and John Mark . . . .
I remind you of these things which you know quite well, because we tend to forget that this subtlety is a part of how God acts in our own lives.
Or at least I forget it all too often, and so I miss giving God glory for the unexpected ways he delivers. I forgot yesterday.
Mostly, then, this is a prayer for me. I invite you to make it your prayer as well.
I come to you who are the Master of the Universe, for you made it and sustain it and direct it, and you are in the process of redeeming it and delivering it in ways too deep and subtle for me to comprehend.
When I am frustrated and irritated and angry with the events in my life, when I blame my clients or co-workers, my family, the waiter, the cashier, the President, the governor, the society . . . Let me remember that you are the God who delivers – not often in the way or time I expect, but always completely and in your own time.
When I am frightened and uncertain about things clearly outside of my control, including my health and the health of those close to me, the economy and world affairs . . . Let me remember that you are the God who delivers – not often in the way or time I expect, but always completely and in your own time.
When I am discouraged and weary of struggling against my own sin and despairing of my own failings, and nothing seems to change . . . Let me remember that you are the God who delivers – not often in the way or time I expect, but always completely and in your own time.
Let me remember that you are God . . . and I am not,
And your ways are not my ways,
And you see more and further than I,
And you are the God who delivers,
In your time and in your way,
Because you are the one who loves me more than I ever comprehend.
Help me to rest in your love this day and this week.