Today I will comment on chapter 2, written by Nancy Lee DeMoss. I can't believe I'm only on Chapter 2. I had better get busy!
She is basically addressing the issue of the sovereignty of God and our faith in it. How do we respond in trying conditions? When life is hell? When things are just not going as planned, as expected, or as we think they should?
Do we forget that God knows everything about our lives? Do we trust in the infinite knowledge and love of God? Do we still trust God even when we don't understand Him?
John Piper is quoted as saying "In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know." I have experienced that this is certainly true and that the things He is doing are right, just, perfect and born of His perfect love for me--even when they might be heart wrenching and excruciatingly painful.
She mentioned some of God's ways. That His plan for your life may mean financial hardship, family difficulties, infertility, a special-needs child, Alzheimer's, loss etc. Indeed some of us live in these things, and we certainly wouldn't have planned them for ourselves. I have lived through financial hardship for many years due to a car accident that left one of my children special needs. Do I think that God planned it, or willed it, or ordained it when He planned my life? NO! This is where I veer off the sovereignty road. (Remember, I did say from the git go that I had some doctrinal differences with the writer, and this is one of them.)
I see the sovereignty of God in a little different light. I believe God foreknew these things would happen. I believe God allowed these things for a number of reasons which He has revealed to me and maybe some that I haven't seen yet. I believe God is greater than these things and that just as He took what the devil meant for harm in Joseph's life and used it for His glory, He is using these things in a positive way in my life, but I will never believe that God would create a special needs child on purpose. I do not believe that God gives us sickness when He sent His Son to destroy it.
I do not let my experience dictate my theology. My experience does not always explain my theology, and it doesn't always line up with my theology, but that doesn't mean that my theology is defective. It means that I'm missing something, somewhere. The problem lies with me, not God. I can honestly say that I wouldn't go back and change things because of all that I have experienced in God and learned about God, but I cannot believe that this was God's plan from the beginning. If these things are His plan from the beginning, why do we need to pray? If they cannot be avoided, cannot be changed, what is the purpose of prayer? Are our lives so set from the beginning that we have no control over them? Where do choices and free will enter in?
If I should not resist any situation or circumstance that I find myself in, then does that mean that when I am sick I should not take medicine to get well? I've heard this argument before, and it honestly doesn't make sense to me. If God made me sick to teach me something or show me something or grow me in some way, wouldn't it be fighting the will and purpose of God to take medicine to get out it? Yet, even Paul instructed Timothy to take something for his stomach. If all things come from God, and are His will, then shouldn't we just sit around and take each day as it comes?
Don't we have an enemy that we have been given authority over? Are we not to resist and fight him in prayer? If there is nothing that we can do about the things he has planned for us, what is the purpose of prayer? Does that mean that when the enemy's plans come into our life that it means they are God's plans, so we shouldn't resist them?
Maybe I'm missing the general point in this chapter, but I cannot reconcile that everything that happens to people is the perfect plan and will of God. It is not God's will that ANY should perish, yet people plunge into hell everyday. And I certainly do not believe that some were created without the possibility of being saved! If that is so, then God is a cruel God and I know that He isn't. I don't believe that God always gets His way.
I do believe that God has plan that will come to pass that cannot be altered. The books of the prophets and Revelation make that very clear. But I don't think the details are set in stone. Even in Matthew, the Jews are instructed to pray that the time of their fleeing not be in winter. If it is already determined, then why are they instructed to pray? If prayer changes things, as all Christians believe, then can't lack of prayer also allow things that aren't necessarily God's will and plan to happen to us?
Sovereignty suggests that it is wrong to ask God "why". I don't think that is exactly right. Zacharias asked God "why" and God chastised him and rightly so. He asked doubting what God had just said to Him. He doubted the voice of God! On the other hand, the Virgin Mary also asked "why". But she never doubted what the angel had just told her. She was merely trying to wrap her brain around it, but she fully believed and was resigned to the perfect will of God.
However, I think the main point of the this chapter is the very foundation of faith in Christ. We need to trust God. Everyday. In every circumstance.
~We need, as true women, to live a God-centered life. Christ is our passion, our only desire. He is our reason for living, the center of everyday and every activity that we undertake. All is done for Him.
~A true woman trusts God! In all that I have experienced as a Pastor's wife, as a mother, as a wife, I have surely found that no matter where I am or how I got there, I must trust God. But I do occasionally ask God "why", and He very often will tell me. And in that I grow and mature and identify areas of my life that the Holy Spirit needs to change. Sometimes I end up in the messes I am in because of something I did or didn't do, something I didn't know, or because I'm under attack from the enemy. Sometimes I don't understand right away and some things I may never see completely until eternity, but I know that God can bring good. I know He will get me through. I know He will somehow glorify Himself...even if the enemy meant tremendous harm from it.
~A true woman says "yes, Lord!" She lives intentionally! This is something I am thinking about more and more--intentional living! Do I do everything that I do in light of eternity? When I make a purchase, do I consider what value it will have in effecting eternity? When I decide what to do with the little spare time that I have, do I consider what difference it could make in the eternity of someone that is lost? When I blog, (ouch), is it always in the light of eternity that I compose the things I say?
Surely, we will all be surprised in eternity! We will be surprised at all we could've done if we had been paying attention, all we could've had if we had believed His Word a little more strongly, all that we could've experienced if we had been a little more sensitive to His Spirit, but even in that, God will take what we did believe, what we did experience and what we did have and say "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into My rest."