1. Do you trust Me?
2. Do you give up your right to understand what I am doing?
Whoa...I was immediately thrown back to this month 5 years ago when these very same questions brought me to a turning point in my faith. And although most of you who read this blog know my story, I feel like there might be someone out there who doesn't or who needs to hear it again. Maybe you feel like God failed you, like He didn't come through for you, or maybe that He's denying you something you've asked for over and over again... Whatever it is that you're dealing with, I want to give you hope.
In May of 2004, after praying and waiting and being sure that I knew how things were going to eventually play out in a certain situation, I was blindsided. I did not just feel like the road made a big turn and I went off course, I felt like God told me to go down a certain road that ended with me going off an uncompleted bridge, straight into a freezing river. I asked myself, "How could I have missed this? How could God not tell me when I asked so many times? Can I even hear the voice of God? Why would a God who claims to love me and know what's best for me allow me to be shattered and utterly lost?" Trying to make sense of what had happened, I was overcome by loss and anger. I shouted out loud to God, "I don't believe You! I don't believe that You know what's best for me! How could this possibly be what's best?! I don't believe that You are good or that You love me! But oh, how I want to! Show yourself to me God! Show me that You are true, that the things I've read and been taught about You are true! Prove Yourself to me!"
And by His grace, He did...
I was too angry and hurt to hear His voice for a while, so He used other things to speak - His people to give word pictures; a Watermark song "Mended"; a section from the book The Princess Bride; a line from the movie LOTR: Return of the King; a dead tree trunk that had a sprig of a new and different tree growing from within. God uses all things to show His grace and reveal Himself, if only we are willing to see.
Over time, I was healed from the loss; but greater than the pain from the loss was the pain of not knowing why. Over and over again I asked for understanding, I pleaded with God to show me why...and the only answer I got was that it was not what He had for me. At first, this was not an acceptable answer, but as He proved Himself to me, showing me His good, loving, merciful character, I was able to release my right to understand and to trust His sovereignty.
Back in high school, I remember sitting in my driveway after midnight with my good friend, Alex. He said something that has stuck with me even 11 years later: "In all situations, we have to remember that God is good and that God is sovereign. If we can remember that, then everything will be okay." (Wow...pretty profound for a 17 year old - thanks Al!). And that's true even today...for me and for you - if we can choose to believe that God is good, that God is sovereign, and (I'd like to add) that He loves us, everything will eventually come into line. It's when we have an experience with God - when we know Him and have seen His character - that we can believe and trust Him; first came the experience, then the belief and trust. This doesn't mean that we don't question, that we don't get angry, that we don't feel sad and loss; it does mean that God is not afraid of those things and He will prove Himself to us if we humbly ask.
So on Sunday during the ministry time after the sermon was over, I sat reflecting on my situation 5 years ago and I was so thankful - thankful that God proved Himself true to me; that in His mercy He drew me close again; that He was not discouraged by my anger, my doubt, my questions, my accusations; and that because of that situation, my faith was refined, hardened and proved genuine. I don't want to be arrogant; I know that my situation is mild compared with some of the true tragedies that others have gone through. But I hope that even if horror comes to me in greater proportions I will still believe Him true; yet even if I am not, He will prove Himself to be.
My encouragement to you is this: if you are angry, hurt or confused by God's actions or restraints, if His character does not seem to line up with your experience, then humbly ask Him to prove Himself true to you, to show you Who He is and how much He loves you. As one who has experienced this for herself, I know He will be faithful to do it.