I was reading in Isaiah today and I found myself overwhelmed by the visual image of God’s wrath coming against sinners. I don’t like to think of God in those terms- I like to think of him as forebearing and loving- compassionate and full of love.
It is hard to reconcile that picture with the God I see in the first few chapters of Romans- coming to judge the ungodly- and in Revelation- causing John to fall to his face and tremble in fear.
Yet I get upset with God sometimes– when I see the horrible suffering of people here- children especially- those who can’t defend themselves. I want his wrath and anger then- I want to see (in my own limited human understanding) his justice against evil-doers, and I want to see it now.
And it has been humbling for me to realize that I arrogantly think I know the hearts of men when I pronounce these judgments. I think I know better than God who deserves to live and die. I act as though the suffering of those around me is more acutely felt by me than by God.
I couldn’t be more wrong- and Scripture confirms it- passage after passage.
He is close to the broken-hearted and those crushed in spirit.
But we try to use our minds to understand why God does nothing. We may begin to see him as impotent-small and unable to justly punish those who deserve it.
We claim that we know better than him how to solve the problems of “our day” and bring equity and justice to the world.
We get puffed up in our own ideas of peace and unity.
We forget about I AM.
And reverent fear is lost as we push God around in our minds– as if we can possibly mold him to fit into what our feeble minds can conceive.
We make God too small.
And reveal our lack of faith and trust in his goodness and ability to justly judge the world and the people he created.
We give too much credit to human acts. God does not need us to fulfill his purposes- it is an act of grace that he gives us the opportunity to cooperate with the work he chooses to do through us.
The more time I spend in the Old Testament, the more I realize that the best response to the amazing, awe-inspiring power and might of our God is worship.
Acknowledging that he created us and knows what’s best.
Humble gratitude for the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for our sins.
Joy in being reconciled to God.
Hope in the promise of heaven.
Holy fear that acknowledges our unworthiness.
We will not understand many things about this life.
We can ask why.
God can handle our doubts.
One of my favorite Psalms, #65, says this:
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (v.5-8)
It all comes down to trust.
Walking with Him; learning from Him.
He will reveal truths to us- and we must trust him with the things we cannot know.
I am satisfied.
Lord, my God and King, I choose to trust you. With all the things I don’t understand. With all the questions and sorrows of my soul. With the evil I see. I cry out to you in great sadness and grief. My heart feels shattered with the aching pain of those around me- sickness, death, tragedy, destruction, exploitation. All so far from your plan- from the way you designed us to be in the very beginning. Lord, bring me into right relationship with you. Stir up compassion in my soul. As I seek you, help me find you. Open my eyes; keep me from being deceived about your character. As I meditate on your Word, open my eyes Lord and give me peace. When I read passages I don’t understand and when new aspects of your character are revealed, help me to not recoil from those things that do not fit into my picture of who I think you should be, but rather that my heart and mind would be open to all the truth that you would reveal to me about your character. Free me from fear Lord, except fear of You. May my heart remain tender and open to your refining fire and voice of discipline. My life is in your hands; mold me as you will- all for your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.