SENSE OF HUMOR? OR SOVEREIGNTY?

Teaching the Word of God is one of my passions.  I’m very much alive when I’m studying the Word and seeking to impart the information I’ve learned to others.  It’s my privilege to teach, on Wednesday evenings, a group of ladies at our church.  The subject matter may change but the foundation doesn’t.  God has so much to teach us and we’ll never really comprehend all of it while we are here on this earth. My subject for this quarter is suffering.  It’s a huge subject and the Scriptures have much to say about it.  My topic last Wednesday would have been “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.”  I say, would have been, because I was not able to teach that class.  The reason?  “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.”

I love God and his ways.  I don’t always understand them, but I love how he works out all things.  At times I think he must have a great sense of humor as his purposes are fulfilled in our lives.  God doesn’t operate in my convenience, but for his glory and my good.  My good is not always what I would call convenient.  It was Saturday morning at 3:00 a.m. when I woke up with my heart in AFib.  It was beating way to fast resulting in me being hot, then cold.  I coughed. I bore down.  I used a cold cloth.  Nothing was bringing my heart back to normal.  At 7:30 a.m. I went to the bathroom only to lay down on the floor because I couldn’t sit up.  I was lightheaded and felt faint.  By 8:00 a.m. I had my husband call 911 and was taken by ambulance to the hospital with a heart rate bouncing around from 160 to 190.  They worked on me with medication until noon and it finally righted itself.  This was not in my plan.

Was this God’s sense of humor?  After all, I’m teaching a class on suffering and in the fourth week, I’m in the hospital.  That’s suffering all right!  Was God smiling as he watched me walk through this situation?  I actually hope he was smiling at me as I sought to follow him well.  This was his sovereign plan all along.  In the fourth week of study, I would live through the sovereign plan of God for me, even though I didn’t like it.  Are we called to like God’s plan?  No.  Are we called to change God’s plan?  No.  Are we called to live out God’s plan?  Yes!  

Let me share with you what God has shown me in this week that I’ve been set aside.  He’s always up to something in our lives and this week was no exception. 

  1.  I’m not in control.  God has wired me to be in control of my life.  That old firstborn tendency comes flying through in so many areas.  It’s easy to make sure I study, pray, read, clean house, wash clothes, exercise, eat right, and reach out to others.  But I can’t control my heart rhythm!  The Lord is the only one who can truly heal my heart rhythm.  I was praying for him to correct it before I had to call the ambulance, but in his sovereignty, he didn’t.  I needed to be totally dependent on him and allow him to use who he would in order for my heart to be right.  I needed prayer!  “…pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16b  My church family began to pray and it was those prayers that sustained me throughout this journey.
  2. I don’t have to understand everything.  This is quite typical for me.  I want to know the details and the reasons.  My thought is if I know, then I’ll understand and then accept whatever is happening.  Yeah, that’s not really the truth!  The confusion of the moment is just what I need to force myself to be utterly dependent on God who is never confused.  He is always well aware of every thing and every reason.  I needed to trust!  “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8  My wisdom is foolishness in comparison to God’s wisdom.   His wisdom sustains in the midst of confusion.

I’m still walking this journey as I deal with medications and side effects.  However, I can remember these two lessons as I move forward;  I’m not in control and I don’t have to understand everything.  God’s sovereignty in my suffering gives me such comfort because he is at work.  He never stops working for the best in my life to make me like Jesus. 

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.  Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.”  1 Chronicles 29:11

ANOTHER BUMP IN THE ROAD!

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1b

The life to which God has called us is a race he’s prepared for us.  When we think of a race we think of a winner receiving their prize.  As followers of Christ, our prize is eternity with him.  Eternity will be glorious!  We’ll realize how the race was well worth the effort.  Until then, this race of life can feel like a slow boat to China.  There are days when it’s hard to pick up our foot to take the next step.  Other days we may be running at a good pace when all of the sudden, we trip over a bump in the way.  There are many bumps we may encounter in our race of life.  Let’s look at a few of those bumps and see how to navigate them for God’s glory and our good.

  1. BUMPS OF MY OWN CREATION

It’s hard to believe that what has tripped us up could actually have been caused by us!  When we sin, we create a bump in our road.  This bump is not only the sin that diverts us from the way we should go, but contains the consequences of that sin.  This bump can make our lives stall as it prevents us from going forward.  “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” Psalm 51:3 This is David’s confession after the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the arranging of the murder of her husband.  This caused a huge bump in David’s forward movement, preventing him from following God.  Even when he repented, he still suffered the consequences of his sin. (2 Samuel 12:1-23) Repentance was the way around the bump in his road.  It’s our way too.  When we repent, God forgives and helps us get back on track.

  1. BUMPS THROWN IN MY WAY

We live with others who are involved in our lives.  These people may be relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or church members.  All people are sinners.  There are times when we are sinned against.  When this happens it as if the person has thrown a large rock in front of us which prevents us from moving.  At times like this, it’s easy to lose our way and become angry or bitter.  However, God has given us an example in Joseph.  His brothers sinned against him by selling him to a caravan on their way to Egypt.  During his time in Egypt, he was a slave, wrongly accused, put in prison, and eventually Pharaoh’s right hand man. (Genesis 37, 39-43) This bump in the road took Joseph in a totally different direction from what he had planned for his life.  What we learn from this is that the bump thrown in front of us by someone’s sin against us doesn’t stop God from his purposes.  “As for you, you meant evil against me, but god meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20  This was Joseph’s testimony to his brothers.

  1. BUMPS OUT OF MY CONTROL

Our world has been cursed by sin.  “For the creation was subjected futility, no willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:20-21 When Adam sinned, the world was affected by sin.  As long as we live in this world, there will be things that come up which are out of our control.  Some examples of this kind of bump may be a cancer diagnosis, a job loss, or a prodigal child.  These things happen and they happen to us.  We need to not allow these bumps to set us off course.  Acceptance of these types of bumps are hard because we definitely want to be in control of every part of our lives.  However, we’re not and we have to give in to God’s control.  “…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 130:16b (NIV)  We can yield to God’s control because he has ordained the day, the problem, the time, the place, and the bump.  He knows; and our job is to trust him as we seek to go over, around, or walk through the bump he has allowed in our road.

Some days we’ll encounter many bumps in the road and others just a few.  As we encounter them, we can repent, forgive, trust God, and yield to God’s control.  This isn’t easy either but we’re not left to wonder how.

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

There’s our answer as we are stopped by a bump.  We are to look to Jesus.  He has run this race ahead of us and sat down next to God who is satisfied with him.  Jesus has completed the perfect race for us so that we can keep our eyes on him.  We need to keep in mind that no matter how hard this life’s race is, it’s easy in comparison to the life Jesus lived for us.  The prize is awaiting us. Eternity is coming!