In the last few weeks, I've watched friends face and walk through the unthinkable in life. Unexpected surgeries. Biopsy reports. Losing a loved one. Preparing to lose a loved one. Financial ruin. Broken relationships. Deceiving business partners. Ministry collapse.
Each of these friends has had to make a choice: grip God with faith, or, refuse God with bitterness. It's impossible to say how I would respond if placed in the midst of any one of these life-changing situations. I know what I would want to say, but when my heart and mind and soul and strength are put to the test in a physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually demanding way, it's entirely different.
I'm reading a book by Chip Ingram called, God As He Longs For You To See Him. In it, he says, "What you think about God shapes your whole relationship with him. In addition, what you believe God thinks about you determines how close you will grow toward him. (p.20) Until you know God as he is, you'll never become all that he's created you to be. (p. 32)"
When tragedy hits, when questions go unanswered, when circumstances look bleak, what I think about God is all that matters. As much as I may beg for relief, plead for answers, and desire healing, what I think about God is all that matters.
Ingram shares the following concerning some of God's attributes:
Goodness: "God is divinely and positively disposed toward you. he takes holy pleasure in your happiness. He is not down on you because you live in a fallen world; he is for you in the midst of it. (p. 60) We are to see God's goodness and have a change of mind that leads to a change of direction that leads to a changed life. (p. 69)"
Sovereignty - "The reason I believe in God and worship him is because he is before all things, he created all things, he upholds all things, he is above all things, he knows all things, he accomplishes all things, he rules over all things, and he is in control of all things. (p.79) The wisest, most intelligent more you can ever make is to surrender all that you are and all that you have to the One who loves you kike no one else can ever love you and who is in control. (p. 93)"
Holiness - "...holiness is that which divides him from everyone and everything else. It is the quality of 'awesome mystery' in God's being... God himself is in an entirely different category in which he is the only member. (p. 1050-106) Meeting God is never a casual event. If you want to be holy, you must develop an attitude that promotes holiness. Namely: hate evil, pursue God with all your heart, and if you're in doubt, don't. (p. 122)"
Wisdom - "The wisdom of God tells us that God will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time. (p. 128) We will never be able to trust what God is doing in our lives until we figure out and personalize his ultimate goal. His primary purpose is not to make us happy, healthy, wealthy, and wonderful. he doesn't promise to make our lives easy and guarantee that things go smoothly. Though he is eternally committed to providing the best for his children, that 'best' may or may not coincide with what many of us consider 'making it' in life. God is good. He is sovereign. And even in a fallen world, we can rest in the assurance that he is actively working to bring about the best possible results by the best possible means, and in the end, to make you and me like his son, Jesus. (p. 145)"
Knowing this - really believing and responding because I know this - is a game changer. I can have complete and total confidence that whatever happens in my life is part of God's sovereign plan, in light of his holiness, because of his goodness, and out of his wisdom.
When nothing around me makes sense, God does. When no one around me is honest and true, God is. His grace allows me to choose faith that he, alone, is good, holy, sovereign, and wise.