Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Arguing with God...

...is never very rewarding.

We all know people who think they're right all the time, and we know how pointless it is to argue with them. But the thing is, when any mortal has that kind of attitude, he's always wrong to think it. That's what's irritating. If they really were right all the time, then that would be an appropriate attitude.

But God really is right all the time. So we start every argument knowing He's right, and we're wrong. We start out doomed.

Yet we can't not see things as we see them, can we? A Roman Catholic is pretty stuck, when it comes to Scripture. When he sees Romish doctrines contradicted in Scripture, it always comes down to the same thing. "Who are you going to believe? The Pope, or your lying eyes?"

But once again, we shake our heads at that because the premise is false. The Pope / Magisterium isn't always right, Christians know it, and that's what makes it so pathetic.

However, God is always right. And Christians know it.

But what do you do when He doesn't look right? When some wrenching lurch of providence looks, for all you can see, random, cruel, God-shaming, pointless, destructive, insane?

There's always good old denial. That's an option.

Or I'm sure that many people are genuinely content with immediately trusting God. Of course, we all do that with things that are minor to us. I mean, when a light turns red just before we hit an intersection, we don't raise our eyes to Heaven and shriek, "Why?? Why do You hate me??! There is no God!"

What about those situations that aren't so minor and simple, though? What about the ones where everything screeches to a halt, positioned in our lives like a horrible ten-car pile-up on the freeway, stopping all traffic in both directions?

Wish I could tell you that's an academic question to me.

In those situations, we have to be honest to God, but honest about God, too.

Honest to God. Silliest scene in the Bible is Adam hiding behind a tree. Like that's going to work. So making nice-face to God is pretty silly, hiding what we think from Him, when our hearts are broken or seething or smashed flat.

I don't get from Scripture that He expects or wants that sort of fakery from us. Not if the Psalms or the Prophets are any indication. Look at a few f'rinstances:
Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
from the words of my groaning? (Psalm 22:1)

O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble,
why should you be like a stranger in the land,
like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? (Jeremiah 14:8)

O LORD , you have deceived me, and I was deceived;
you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all the day;
everyone mocks me. (Jeremiah 20:7)
Also, read Psalm 44:9-22. This is but a selection. There just a isn't any point in being other than honest with God.

But, we also have to be...

Honest about God. The Scriptures, beyond honest argument, portray God as all-powerful, all-wise, faithful, and good. He is so committed to the good of His people, that He is incapable of allowing anything finally harmful to befall them. All things work together for good (Romans 8:28; cf. Genesis 50:20).

What to do when situations call any or all of those qualities into question?

If we're going to be Christian at all, denial of these Divine qualities is not an option. So what, then?

Here's what: we need to be humble enough to acknowledge the difference between the way things look, and the way things are.

We easily see the way things look. But what are we, we who are the viewers? We're a mist, a vapor. "You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14b). We're here today, gone tomorrow. And even during that "today," we're not all that bright. We're a dull knife in a drawer-full of dull knives. We only know a tiny, microscopic fraction of what can be known, and we neither know nor understand that fragment as well as we imagine.

God, by contrast, knows everything exhaustively, and understands everything perfectly.

So an atom stands before a speck of sand. "It goes up forever," he exclaims. He's wrong. But it certainly looks to him as if it goes up forever, because that's all he can see.

An ant stands at a table leg. "It goes up forever," he shouts to his buddies. Right? Or wrong? Both. Right about what he sees, wrong about what is.

A man stands before the Cross. "God is beaten," he says. "Either that, or certainly Jesus is rejected by God, forever. Jesus is certainly beaten. He failed. He is weak and pathetic. Everything has gone horribly wrong. Evil has triumphed, good is defeated, publicly and decisively. Nothing good is in this, and no good can come from it. Either there is no God, or God isn't like Jesus said He is, and I don't know which is worse."

Right, or wrong?

Well, for all appearances at that moment, he's right.

But wrong in the most important way. He has one part of the picture. But the whole picture utterly and completely changes the apparent meaning of that one part.

So here's the deal. We're in the midst of a nauseating, horrible disaster. What do we do?

I think we do two things. I think we tell God honestly what it looks like to us. And then I think we must remind ourselves that we never see anything exactly as God sees it. Never. Ever.

Things are the way God sees them, not the way we see them. So we have to remind ourselves that He still is who He says He is, not the way our situation seems to say He is.

Humbling, no? But true. Don't we want the truth? Ah, yes; we just wish it were different.

But there it is.

12 comments:

LeeC said...

Thanks Dan.

I think of Job and his responses. They weren't always right, but he certainly did not "Curse God and die." Overall he KNEW who God is. He KNEW God is sovereign, and more than that that He is GOOD. Even if Job could not understand the why and the werefore of the situation at hand he could stand upon his knowledge of who God is.

We have the Scriptures now in their entirety so that we can KNOW who God is, what He is like, and what He is not.

2 Cor. 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, "

Overall once all the reading is done, and we have listened to all the sermons, and meditated upon all these truths, and prayed for understanding while in the middle of the storm the question is; do we trust Him?

I pray so for there is nothing, nothing else that we can trust I cna assure you that.

I confess to hinding behind trees as Adam did at times, but praise God that His Spirit draws my mind back to His Word that I can recaptivate my mind with truth. I can stand on His promises just like my children stand on mine even if they don't fully understand.

When we don't do this we are like children who when asked to do something ask "Why?" and insist upon the parent justifying their request before they will obey.

Parent- "Tommy, get out of the road."

Tommy defiantly- "Why?"

Parent starts running towards Tommy- "Get out of the road, NOW!"

Tommy- "But I'm having fun can't I..."

BOOOM!

*Car whisks Tommy into oblivion*

Sitting in judgment on God is never a good idea even if we don't understand His ways.

I would be a scary, scary person right now (if I were alive) if I were not saved. I understand what it would mean for there to be no God. I also thank Him that most atheists do not understand this.


Sorry for rambling, it's early and the wife and kids are up in Vallejo visiting our former pastors family till Thursday. I'm a little punchy.

dec said...

I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?

I think about Naomi. She understood the sovereignty of God, that good and bad come from the hand of God.

These days, we don't want to "blame" God for tragedies. Since God is love--and we know better than Him what love looks like--our theology tries to weaken His sovereignty.

LeeC said...

Oh but Naomi might have recognized Gods sovereignty, but she ascribed evil to the Lord instead of recognizing His goodness as Joseph did. Even to the point of turning her daughters back to thier false gods rather than follow the God who she saw as bringing such calamnity upon her.

Job on the other hand blessed the name of the Lord even though he did not understand why these things were happening.

My favorite thing about the book of Job is that God was not content that Job merely placed his hand over his mouth. God wanted Job to proclaim the truth about God.

Job 42
1 Then Job answered the LORD and said:
2"I know that you can do all things,and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.'
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes."

Here is wisidom.

dec said...

So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, "The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz." And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!" Naomi also said to her, "The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers."

I think this shows that Naomi quickly repented of not trusting in God's goodness.

LeeC said...

Oh absolutely.
Afterall we do stilknow her as Naomi, not Mara eh? :-)

I just don't wan't to think of her initial response as a good wayto acknowledge Gods sovereignty.

Perhaps because I realate to it all to well.

Daryl said...

"I mean, when a light turns red just before we hit an intersection, we don't raise our eyes to Heaven and shriek, "Why?? Why do You hate me??! There is no God!""


No coffee was in my mouth, hence none was spewed...but that sentence is hilarious!!!

Daryl said...

On a more serious note...

Your post is a huge part of what God uses to confirm his life in me when I think I've wandered too far. I can't get away from the trueness of God and the falseness of me. When I try to run, I am overwhelmed with the reality of God, so I jog, then walk, and then sit down and give up 'cause he just won't let me get away.

Granted, I've not lived throught a major tragedy so far, I pray that he will keep me, even then.

LeeC said...

How bout Ol Jonah?
In the midst of high handed rebellion against God he is swallowed up by a fish, and what is his instinct?
he prays with supplication and thanksgiving.

Wow.

Jonah 2
Jonah's Prayer

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.

4 I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.

7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."

10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Or Habakkuk 3.
So many good passages.

lawrence said...

Funny, articulate, just a good, solid post.

The almost casual "Few Good Men" reference at the end took it to another level.

LeeC said...

How bout Psalm 13. David getting a little "Mara" like, then pulling himself together based on his knowledge of the Lord.

Psalm 13
Prayer for Help in Trouble.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

4 And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

6 I will sing to the LORD,Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

CraigS said...

Praying for you bro...

candyinsierras said...

I mean, when a light turns red just before we hit an intersection, we don't raise our eyes to Heaven and shriek, "Why?? Why do You hate me??! There is no God!"

Sure Dan, when YOU are stuck at a light, you appeal to God's lack of mercy towards you but when you are on the freeway, you know you are a car pharisee. You know you say under your breath, "Thank God, I am not like those WHITE car drivers."