Friday, May 21, 2021

Fixing What's Wrong

 I'll just put this out there--sometimes the sovereignty of God stinks. Sometimes what happens--what is out of my control, what others plan, purpose or manipulate--is wrong. It ruins everything I've tried to accomplish, months or years of effort, praying and dreaming. I see the wrong behind it and want to change it. "Surely this isn't God's plan!"

Living by faith, however, sits back, reflects, and moves with it. How do I know?

Here is Scripture to help--because I doubt I'm the only one who struggles when this happens.

I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it. And God has so worked, that people will fear Him. That which is, is what has already been, and that which will be has already been; and God seeks what has passed by. (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)

What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted. (Ecclesiastes 1:15)

Really? Ok. Yes, what God does or doesn't do, but what about what people do? What about their wickedness or wrong choices? I'm just supposed to roll with it?

Look at what happened to Isaac at the end of his life. He was miraculously born to senior citizens. The promised son. The wonder baby. He grew up in a godly family--both of his parents are listed in the hall of faith. Not just one, both. God supernaturally provided a beautiful wife from the home country even though he lived off in the desert. They raised 2 sons and, were, by all accounts, well off.

Then, in the end, one brother betrayed the other. The younger disguised himself, took advantage of his father's frailty and blindness, and received the blessing. How did Isaac respond? Here's the story again:

So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed; Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you.”

Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, that his brother Esau came in from his hunting. Then he also made a delicious meal, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who then was he who hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate from all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me as well, my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” Then Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has betrayed me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and I have given to him all his relatives as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, me as well, my father.” So Esau raised his voice and wept.

Then his father Isaac answered and said to him, “Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. And by your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27:27-40)

What a heart-wrenching end to Isaac's life! What a stink! Crook! Deceiver! It doesn't make sense to us. It doesn't seem right. But how does God interpret the situation? This is what the writer of Hebrews pens in relation to Isaac and his faith:

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. (Hebrews 11:20)

It doesn't say what happened was fair, right or just. The Bible doesn't say that Isaac liked it or agreed. It doesn't share the agony of his soul in blessing the wrong son and giving left-overs to his favorite (and isn't there a lot that can be said to parents--that will remain unsaid for now).

Why and how was this an act of faith? 

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country which they left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Because it isn't about here and now. Life isn't going to be fair. I'm not going to understand it. I cannot change what God has done, but I can respond in faith, moving forward from here. I can live for that eternal kingdom instead of this earthly one. I can set my heart and mind on what is coming. I don't have to fix what's wrong. I don't have to cover, change or make it right. I simply roll with it and keep my eyes on what is greater, better, higher--Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-3)

And, as the writer of Hebrews will conclude:

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-4)