Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?"
"Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.
- Romans 11:33-36
* * *At our Romans study this past Thursday, our large-group leader observed that "Right theology produces doxology. A high view of God produces heartfelt praise."
Kathy continued: "God's perfect wisdom and his plans are above our understanding. Thankfully, we do not need to understand everything in order to trust the God who does." Then, because she is good at challenging us to apply doctrine to everyday life, Kathy asked, "How do you respond to things that come into your life that you don't understand? Do you worship God (like Paul did in these verses)? Or, do you turn your prayers into opportunities to complain?"
(I don't think I've shouted it into the blog-o-sphere yet this week, so let me do it now: I LOVE THIS STUDY OF THE BOOK OF ROMANS! Now, back to this blog post...)
Am I a worshiper? or a complainer?
I've been through a rough season lately, fraught with much that I do not understand. I have not doubted God's sovereignty or goodness, but I have frequently wondered, "Lord, what on earth is going on here? What are you doing?!"
Sadly, many of my prayers have been complaining prayers:
"God, this is such an atrocious mess. Why don't you just fix everything?"
"Lord, convict ---- of sin and grant them true repentance!"
"God, plead my case on my behalf! Why do you remain silent?"
"Lord, what am I supposed to do with all this hurt?!"
And in response to my complaining prayers, God has brought to mind verses such as...
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:43-45).
"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you...love your enemies, and do good...Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:29, 35a, 36).
"See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God is Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18).
Over the past several weeks, God, in his great mercy, has redirected my prayers from a preoccupation with my own wounds, to genuine concern and compassion for those who have wounded me. And, as is so often the case in God's upside-down economy, I find that while I have been praying for those who have hurt me, God has been quietly healing my heart.
I still do not understand God's plans in this particular situation - I am completely baffled - but the kindness and tenderness with which He has met me during this trial has transformed my prayers of complaining into prayers of heartfelt worship and praise. God faithfully speaks into the details of my life with such precision, and He continually draws me closer to him. God is SO GOOD.
This morning, a friend shared on Facebook an article by Jonathan Parnell - "When God Calls You Out" - posted over at Desiring God Ministries. Jonathan writes: "God brings trials into our lives to give us more of himself. Their purpose is that we might not rely on ourselves - not look to ourselves for salvation or hope or joy - but that we might rely on him. The purpose is that we would lean on God, that we'd fix our eyes on his glory, clinging to the truth that in Jesus he is always enough for us. Always." (Read Jonathan's entire article HERE.)
In place of the hurt, God has given me himself.
And He is enough.