When I was thirteen, I turned my back on God. I couldn’t reconcile a world where evil existed with an all-powerful, all-loving God. If I were God, I would immediately eliminate evildoers. Certainly that would work better than letting them live another day, giving them another opportunity to hurt more people.
This dilemma in my psyche persisted through my teens and early adulthood until God drew me back to Him when I was thirty. Now in my sixties, I am still learning to trust God.
I find that God does not meet my expectations. He doesn’t answer my prayers in the way that I hope. He doesn’t provide immediate resolutions to my most urgent circumstances. His behavior contradicts my finest reasoning. How can I rely on Him when He doesn’t do what I think is best?
My purpose in writing this is to share my journey and my observations. God works in surprising, unexpected ways. He is a God of paradox.
Paradox is when two contradictory conditions co-exist. In God’s economy, surrender equals victory; empty equals full; ordinary equals extraordinary; good comes out of evil; and life comes out of death. How can that be?
I wish God had created us with an intellect that propelled us into doing only good things that would glorify Him and bless our fellow human beings. But He didn’t. He wanted us to learn to trust Him. He wanted us to obey Him joyfully, because we want to, not because we couldn’t do otherwise. Free will is a good gift of a loving God. It provides us the opportunity (and the responsibility) of shaping our own characters.
When I rely on God instead of coming to Him as a last resort, He will make sure my needs are met. Does that mean I have no responsibility to work for the things I need? Of course not. But there is danger in thinking that all the good things I have, all my successes, were earned entirely by my own effort. Certainly hard work yields results. But the Bible clearly tells us, “You may say to yourself, ‘my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV)
God’s people hold their possessions loosely, knowing they can be taken away in an instant. We can’t put our faith in our things; they will only disappoint. God, however, is worthy of our trust. We can empty ourselves and allow Him to fill us. God can do more than we ever thought possible.
The preceding words are excerpted from one of my works-in-progress, a long essay (or a short book) called The God of Paradox. When it grows up it might become a bible study guide. May I ask for your feedback? Does this sound like something you would enjoy reading? Do you have the same questions as I about the nature of God and the way He works? Please share in the comments below.