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?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.
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)
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.