When God’s Ways do not Make Sense, what should God’s People Do?
Consider the story of Ted Turner: the Founder of CNN.
Some of you, if not many of you, are are probably familiar with the global news television channel called CNN. This huge media company in the United States that is now known all over the world was founded by a man called Ted Turner.
In his earlier years, as a high school student, Ted Turner had embraced the Christian faith. But shortly after embracing the Christian faith, dreadful calamities hit the life of Ted Turner.
First of all, his younger sister died of leukemia. The death of this girl was such a crushing blow to Teddy Turner’s father that he was unable to endure it and ultimately committed suicide!
Now prior to these events, Ted Turner would have gladly identified himself as a Christian. But after these tragic events of the death of his beloved sister and dear father, Ted Turner started to wonder why a loving God would allow these disasters to happen to him. Ted Turner eventually concluded that God did not exist, or that if He did exist, He did not love him or care about him. Thus, he discarded his Christian faith and walked away from God.
It is very sad to realize, that even today, a lot of young Christians and some older ones are like Ted Turner. They are unaware that there will be times in everyone’s life when life’s circumstances will appear illogical and confusing. Many believers today are ignorant of the fact that there will be times in our lives where God’s ways will not seem to make sense!
It is a shame to preachers and pastors and very unfortunate that we don’t talk much about the fact that in life, many of us will sooner or later experience circumstances where God’s ways do not seem to make sense in our lives. And it is very, very important to have this truth firmly engrained in our lives because it is an indispensable part of the Christian faith.
It is quite unfortunate, that many times, our modern pastors are developing a growing tendency of frequently teaching only the parts of our theology that appeal to the secular minds of their congregations. They focus their attention, for example, on the prosperity gospel, in which they tell people that if they accept Jesus, they will be healthy, happy, and have all their needs met. But they refuse to tell their congregation the bitter truth that suffering is a part of the Christian package.
Many teachers of God’s word usually neglect to tell God’s people that there are times when God will refuse to calm the storms in your life, but will instead choose to calm you. We usually tend to hide from our people the fact that there might be times where God might even refuse to answer the prayers of his people, like he did with Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and with Moses in Deuteronomy 3:21–29.
We don’t usually tell our people the hard truth that there may be times in our lives when we have big problems or very urgent needs, and expect Christ to help us right away, and Christ may choose not come to our aid at the time we expected as it was in the case of Mary and Martha in regard to the issue of the death of Lazarus in John 11. I think you are aware, that in John 11, Mary and Martha told Jesus that his friend Lazarus was was critically sick. Today, you would say, he was in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This was a matter of life and death. But when Jesus was called to help his dear friend Lazarus, Jesus didn’t come right away to help them. He didn’t actually need to physically come to where Lazarus was to heal him. He could have even healed him from where he was by just speaking a word. But Jesus didn’t do this either. Instead, he stayed where he was for a few more days and let Lazarus die.
We also usually fail to tell our people that there will be times when a devoted servant of God, like John the Baptist, will be imprisoned for his faithfulness to God. And even though God has the power to deliver his servants out of jail, as he did when he sent an angel to miraculously release Peter from prison in Acts 12, God may chose to leave a John the Baptist languishing in prison, as he did in Matthew 14:1-12, and permit evil people to brutally murder him by chopping off his head.
It is unfortunate that pastors and preachers and teachers of God’s word are only found of telling their congregations that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” This statement is absolutely true, but it is not the whole truth. The other part of the truth that what we tend to hide is that for some people, like Joni Earekson Tada, this “wonderful plan” means spending a lifetime confined in a wheel chair.
For certain people, such as my elder sister, who is now in her 60s, God’s “wonderful plan” for her life entails being confined in a wheel chair, where she has been since childhood and will remain in until her death. For others, such as Fanny Crosby (the lady who wrote many of our favorite hymns today, such as “blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”), God’s “wonderful plan” for her life was for her to be blind from childhood to old age. Fanny Crosby became completely blind six weeks after her birth, and she lived for the next 95 years as a totally blind person until her death in 1915.
And for some people, God’s “wonderful plan” for their life could mean an early death, being poor, or social rejection. For the prophet Jeremiah, God’s “wonderful plan” for his life meant being rejected by the people of Judah and being cast down and imprisoned underground in a dark muddy pit as seen in Jeremiah 38. And for other Bible characters, like Peter, Paul, John the Baptist, and the martyrs, God’s “wonderful plan” for their lives meant execution.
Some of the situations we may encounter as part of God’s “wonderful plan” for our lives may seem not to make sense at all to us. However, even a mid the worst circumstances, God’s plan for our lives is good because everything that is in line with his will “works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)
In light of these facts, I would like, in the upcoming messages, to draw your attention to the following question: “When God’s ways do not make sense, what should God’s people do?”
For those of you who are struggling with confusing situations where God’s ways don’t seem to make sense, it is my sincere hope and prayer that the upcoming messages will speak comfort to your life and bring you peace.
And for some of you who may have not yet encountered puzzling circumstances in which God’s ways do not seem to make seem to make sense, I want to use the upcoming messages to equip you with the truth of God’s word so that you will know how to respond appropriately when you find yourself in the midst of such circumstances.