Have you ever heard statements like these?
- “Oh, yes. God wants me to be happy. He’s promised to give me the desires of my heart.”
- “If you have enough faith, anything you ask of God can be yours.”
- “God will take care of me. I don’t need to budget or plan ahead.”
- “I can’t help it if I’m moody; that’s the way God made me. He understands.”
Any person who holds such beliefs can point to a verse or two in scripture, proving their points.
The problem is, the Bible was not written in brief, stand-alone statements. Bible truths are based on the context of the whole. Historical and literary understanding are also important.
Another problem? We wish for God to conduct himself in a certain way. We even find scriptures that seem to back up our desires. But the truth is, we must know God as he is.
If we don’t, we’re living in confusion.
“The sooner we accept God as he is, and do not imagine him as we would like him to be, the sooner we will move from the path of confusion to confidence” (Selwyn Hughes, 1928-2006, Welsh pastor and author).
However, so much of God is beyond our understanding.
“Just as [we’ll] never understand
the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,
so [we’ll] never understand
the mystery at work in all that God does.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5, The Message.
Our finite brains cannot fully comprehend our infinite God. But that shouldn’t stop us from learning and experiencing all we can.
Learning comes from the Bible. In its pages we find a glorious treasure trove of wisdom, encouragement, and guidance.
Experience comes through exercising our faith.
“If we begin to worship and come to God again and again by meditating, by reading, by prayer, and by obedience, little by little God becomes known to us through experience” (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, twelfth century monk).
It is impossible to fully explain this life of faith, just as you can’t fully explain what it’s like falling in love, getting married, or becoming a parent. Words fail to describe such beautiful and strong emotions.
We had to trust those who told us:
- “You’ll know you’re in love when it happens to you.”
- “Your wedding day will be the best day of your life to that point.”
- “Perhaps the only ‘high’ better than falling in love or getting married is holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time.”
Similarly, we have to trust what God tells us through his spokesmen in the Bible. For example:
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.”
You might want to read that third line again. Our God is faithful—reliable, loyal, and completely trustworthy. HE. DOES. NO. WRONG. Now that’s Someone in whom we can place our confidence!
Here is another example of scripture-truth about him:
“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of [God’s] throne;
love and faithfulness go before [him].”
Those four characteristics—right-doing, justice, love, and faithfulness—are the bedrock of who our God is. Everything he does flows from those attributes, including difficult circumstances and painful events that make no sense to us.
“Our inability to discern why bad things sometimes happen to us does not disprove God’s benevolence; it merely exposes our ignorance” (Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith, p. 46).
Someday we will understand why such events occur. For now we must trust.
But our trust is not blind. We can be confident in our God because:
“True faith rests in the character of God” (A.W. Tozer).