How do we understand an infinite God with finite minds? Simply, we don’t. A comprehended god is not God at all.
If you have lived the Christian life for any length of time, it is likely that you have experienced a time when you did not understand what God was doing. From our limited perspective, His way just did not make sense. Our natural response is to take those circumstances back into our own control, turn back, stop moving, or at the very least, figure it all out. I have been there. I hate confusion and love solutions. When God doesn’t make sense, my mind races with possible scenarios and outcomes. Then a two word command from the Word of God is brought to my mind. “Be still.” (Psalm 46:10) Not a pleasant suggestion to rest, more of a command to stop with my control-freak tendencies and know that He is God. It is then, when I stop that He reminds me of His promise from Proverbs 3 – one that you are likely familiar with.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Beyond this incredible promise, however, is a Bible filled with reasons why we can and should be encouraged when our circumstances don’t make sense. So I want to share with you what God has shown me.
1. When God’s leading in your life doesn’t make sense, take heart because He might just magnify Himself through you!
I think we have a tendency to read the Bible (especially those most familiar stories) without truly thinking them through. We are able to see the whole picture, and we neglect to consider what these men and women faced, while not knowing what God was going to do. Often times, the things God either told these people to do or what He allowed to happen to them were seemingly absurd.
- Noah was commanded to build a giant boat that would house him, his family, and a host of animals because God was going to flood the earth and “destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.” (Genesis 6:14-17)
- Abraham was told to leave his country without a specific destination. (Genesis 12:1) Then later, after God had made a covenant with Abraham to make of him a great nation and after God had fulfilled that promise (when Abraham and Sarah were both over ninety… absurd in and of itself), God tells Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice. (Genesis 12:2-3, 17:16-19, 22:2)
- Moses led God’s people out of Egypt only to be trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea; then God told them to go forward. (Exodus 14:5-15)
- Joshua was told to march around an entire city for seven days. (Joshua 6:1-16)
- Gideon gathered an army, only to be told that the army is too large. Then by God’s processes, the army was narrowed down to three hundred men. They then faced Midian with trumpets and empty pitchers. (Judges 7:2-21)
- David, a man after God’s own heart, was anointed to become the next king of Israel only to have the present king of Israel attempt to kill him… multiple times. (1 Samuel 13:14, 16:12-13, 18:10-11, 19:9-10)
- Elijah, after delivering God’s message to wicked King Ahab, was told to hide himself, and he would drink from a brook and be fed by ravens. Then, when the brook dried up, he was told to go to a widow woman and ask for her last meal. (1 Kings 17:1-12)
- Job, who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil,” lost all of his possessions as well as his children in one day. Then when he “sinned not,” he was afflicted with sore boils from head to feet. (Job 1:1,13-19,22; 2:7)
- Mary, a virgin, was told she would give birth. (Luke 1:26-34)
- The disciples were told to feed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fishes. (Luke 9:10-16)
- A man who was blind his whole life had clay (made from dirt and spit) put on his eyes and was told to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. (John 9:6-7)
- Paul, while faithfully spreading the gospel, was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and so much more. He was also afflicted with a “thorn in the flesh,” which he asked the Lord to take away three times. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, 12:7-8)
These are just some of the most familiar stories. The Bible is full of stories in which men and women face seemingly impossible situations. Put yourself in their place. Imagine that you don’t know what God is going to do. Does it make sense? No!
But we do know what happens in the end, and that is what makes the stories so awesome! When these men and women obey God’s commands and trust His guiding hand, they see God magnified. These stories are all about God!
- God blessed Noah and made a covenant to never destroy the earth by flood again. He also invented the rainbow! (Genesis 9:1,12-16)
- God provided a ram as a substitute offering in response to Abraham’s obedience. (Genesis 22:13)
- God parted the Red Sea and had the children of Israel walk on dry land; then, best of all, He had the waters come down on the Egyptian army and killed them all. (Exodus 14:21-31)
- God gave the Israelites the city of Jericho when the walls fell down flat. (Joshua 6:20)
- God caused the people of Midian to turn on themselves when they heard the three hundred trumpets. (Judges 7:22)
- God protected, delivered, and blessed David. David wrote, “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” (Psalm 35)
- God saved the widow and her son and proved His Word to be truth. (1 Kings 17:24)
- God revealed His omniscience and omnipotence to Job and blessed Job with twice what he had before. (Job 38, 42:12-17)
- God favoured Mary and she gave birth to the Son of God, who would give His own life to take away the sins of the world. I love her words “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” (Luke 1:30,35,46)
- God fed the five thousand and left fragments that filled twelve baskets. (Luke 9:16-17)
- God opened the eyes of the blind man so that he could see; then Jesus used the miracle to teach spiritual blindness (John 9:11,39-41)
- God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
2. When God’s leading in your life doesn’t make sense, trust Him because He is faithful.
The God who made Himself real to these Bible characters is the very same God who wants to make Himself real to you and to those around you. The Bible is filled with promises given to those who trust Him and follow His leading.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:9
I’m smiling right now as I type this because even now there are aspects of my own life that do not make sense. But this life is not about me – it’s all about Him. And if He wants to use perplexing circumstances to magnify Himself through me and prove Himself faithful, that is an awesome privilege! Nothing could bring me more joy than to be used by Him for His glory.
One last thought…
When we read the Word of God, we see the stories from start to finish. But it may be that you will never why God allows certain circumstances into your life. It may not make sense, but we cannot forget that He is God. Job never knew why God allowed all his possessions and family to be taken, but in the end he was faithful, and God blessed that faith.
There is also a chance that you will not see God’s blessing on this side of heaven, but the Bible says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” (James 1:12)
O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. ~ Psalm 34:3