Tuesday, July 5, 2016
When what I need isn't what I want or expect from a "good" God
The words to a well loved hymn echoed in my ears, "All I have needed thy hands have provided, Great is they faithfulness...." as I worshiped and praised the Lord amongst other believers.
As the words were being sung an image came into my mind. Like the picture of this chandelier. Only inside the white, round top were pictures. And it was Big! Really big! At first I thought they were pictures of the good things I needed that the Lord had provided - you know, things like food, shelter, clothing, laughter, joy, celebration - but as I looked more closely and the words echoed more loudly, I saw that it wasn't the good and easy things in the frame of the chandelier, but the hard things, the hard times that were slowly spinning in front of my mind. And there were a lot of pictures!
I saw myself crying as I pulled away from a home, car packed with kids and toys and trinkets we couldn't do without until the moving truck pulled into our next home.
I saw my childhood fears.
I saw my regrets.
I saw consequences of my sins. The big ones and the little ones.
I saw loss of loved ones.
I saw hard things and only hard things. There wasn't a good thing rolling by on the screen.
But the words kept echoing in the verses and the chorus,
"All I have needed, thy hands hath provided"......
I wish I could have missed the hard things. I wish I could have skipped over the hard things and went right to the good things, while still learning the things I learned from the hard things without going through the hard things.
The things about God that I could have only learned from the hard things and never from a full belly, or a stuffed closet, or a warm house.
But I wonder, no, I know.....
Without the hard things there would have been no reason for me to search for the reasons behind them. I certainly would have never looked so hard for answers in the pages of the Words He's left us if I only had the easy things to point to for the reason for my faith.
No, I needed the hard things. As much as I wish I could say my good God only provides good things through good, I have to tell the truth, He provides all I have needed through good things and really, really good things disguised as hard things.
As I looked at the spinning chandelier and saw the pictures of the things I wish I could forget, I saw that it was being held by two hands. And the hands were connected to arms and the arms were connected to a body and the body had a head and the head had the most loving and kind look on its face.
It was Jesus.
Holding my life, the hard parts, in his hands.
Showing me that those hard things of my past and present are/were the things I needed to prepare me for today and tomorrow and the next day and however many more days are left on my life.
All I have needed, His hands have provided.
Without the hard things there would be no need for the comfort of the Words. Without the Words there would be no way to see our need for faith in a Big God. Without a need for faith in a Big God there is no need to see the words that get us through and over and under and beyond the hard things.
We can never see a Big God without the Words. The hard things are like the light God uses on the pages of our lives, lighting up the Words that tell of our Big God.
I needed the hard things so I could see the words...
I needed the words so I could see God...so I could see a Big God.
If God only provides the good things we need, the things that keep us from throwing a tantrum, we may never see the things that come through the hard things he provides. Things like - peace, hope, forgiveness, mercy, rest.
If our lives are just made up of good moments, good times, good relationships, what reason is there to ever trust in a good God?
It's when our lives are made up of hard things - pain, suffering, fear, anxiety, painful consequences of sin - that we cry out to a big God to pull us out of the pits of our sufferings. Hard things - those things we wish could go in the do-over-box, or the if-I-could-do-it-again-I-would-never-do-it-again boxes - they are things God uses to show us God is what we need.
We need the hard things to see God is what we need, not the good sugar daddy things he can provide with the snap of his fingers.
Hard things lead us to Words that lead to healing, renewal, strength, restoration - all given and done and lavished on us by the power of a big and awesome God.
Hard things led me to the Words of a Big God.
Can you thank Him for the hard things?
I'm learning to. I admit, it's not easy. It's hard to thank Him for the hard things, when you're living in the middle of the hard thing, looking back at a hard thing or facing a hard thing. But if it were all good would you thank Him then?
I don't. I forget to thank him for the good. He hears the most from me when it's hard. Maybe that's why the hard things get to enter - he knows how prone I am to wander when life is good and how distant I become when things are good.
Maybe he just likes to hear from his kid, this kid, his kids, you, more. Maybe he wants to hear from you more and the only way that works to get through our stubborn hearts is by smacking us on the had with the hard thing board.
I don't know. Maybe it's just me that he has to get my attention this way.
Does it make him less "good" when I'm stubborn and can only learn through hard things? Some think so. I don't. More and more, I see him gooder and better and better than I ever did before. (Yes, I know gooder isn't a word).
Hard things led me to His words. His words led me to see how big and good a God he really is.
Maybe I'm the only one who needs to be reminded of this today.
Ok, I won't leave you hanging, here are the English words of the Hebrew and Greek words above:
to know, understand
to be gracious
to guard, protect
to carry, lift up, forgive
to release, forgive, pardon
to have mercy on
to forgive, pardon, remit, cancel
to redeem, deliver
many, much, abundant
to know, understand, recognize