If I had to describe my relationship with God in two words, they would be love and tension.
God gives unfathomable love, grace, compassion, guidance, wisdom, and joy generously to those who love Him. He is beautiful, tender, and an awesome Father. All of which fall under the umbrella of His great love.
But, human as I am, I cannot deny the tension. My Father and I have such different natures. How can there not be tension?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
I was listening to the radio and a caller was talking about her son nearly missing a car accident because he forgot his keys. The few minutes it took to run back inside his house caused him to miss a car accident in his path. If he had left a few minutes earlier, he would have been right smack in the middle of it.
“God saved my son!” she said.
The radio host got excited and reciprocated with a story about someone she knew that escaped a tragedy by mere minutes. “God is good!” she said.
There is no doubt that God is good.
However, these types of statements make me uneasy. When people assert that God saved them from this or that, I start to squirm. Do we claim to know the will of God? How do we know what is good or bad?
We have to be careful about proclaiming blessings in anything and everything that happens. How would the statement that God saved this caller’s son sit with the parent of someone who was killed in that accident?
Also, there are near misses every day. In any given car accident, there are a handful of people involved. Yet, there are many more that are not.
Let’s say that there is a 5% chance that you will get in a car accident every time you get in your car. That would mean that there is a 95% chance that you won’t. Is God’s hand in each of the 95%? Or, does the world just run its course, and sometimes accidents happen?
Did God save all of those 95% because that was His will? Or, is it just that statistically, some people get in a car accident and some don’t?
Obviously God can do whatever He wants at any time. However, to say that His hand saves every single person that does not get in a car accident is a little presumptuous. Again, do we claim to know the will of God?
If you asked my kids they would tell you that when I say goodbye I am not really leaving. They know I will come back in at least once because I forgot something. It’s just one of the many joys of getting older! So when someone calls that a miracle, something I do daily, I squirm a little.
At the same time I am very thankful every time I pass a car accident that I was not involved in. But, do I think that God orchestrates who is in every car accident and who isn’t? He certainly can. And, I think at times He does. But, I wouldn’t say that every time I avoid an accident, it’s because of God’s hand.
It’s entirely possible that more good could come out of it if I was in that car accident.
We cannot begin to understand the ripple effects of things happening in life. We cannot know what is ultimately good or bad. What we see as tragedy could trigger a set of events that could lead an entire nation to Christ. We don’t know.
Only God knows.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:4-6
A friend of mine’s daughter was in the middle of the attacks in Nice, France this past summer. She was not hurt and quickly got a flight home before they closed the airport.
Was I rejoicing with this relieved mother when her plane landed in the U.S.? Was I thanking God for protecting this precious child? I absolutely was! And if it were my child, I would have been on my knees praising God and thanking Him for keeping her safe.
But . . .
What about those whose loved ones were not safe or protected?
At least eighty four people, many of them children, were killed on that fateful day in France.
How could God let children die so horrifically?
As a Christian, one cannot ‘square’ everything to complete satisfaction. My pastor once said, “Life with God is about sitting in the tension of unanswered questions.”
Do I feel settled or ‘squared’ with my understanding of everything in scripture or in the world?
Am I OK with the suffering of children in the world?
Am I content with the scripture about women not being permitted to pastor/lead in the church?
No, I’m not. I am not squared. Not with a lot of things.
To be human is to experience tension with the world, AND tension with God.
We experience tension when our will conflicts with His. We feel tension when we can’t square certain things in our limited minds. We experience tension when our nature rubs up against the perfect nature of God.
But we have a patient God. A God who is full of love and mercy. A God that goes above and beyond. And a God who gives life when we deserve death.
God is OK with my tension and with yours. In fact, I think God delights in the wrestling. As long as it moves us toward Him.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1