Unbending principles

Recently, I had a heart-wrenching conversation with a young believer whose family is undergoing a very challenging season. I fought back the tears as he described his harrowing experiences. Then, at some point in our discussion, he alluded to having a crisis of faith. Like many experiencing difficult seasons, he asked why God hadn’t intervened in his family’s plight. That’s never easy to answer: Non-Christians can chalk their predicaments to fate, coincidence, or any of the philosophical rationalisations out there to explain the problem of pain. But for those of us who believe in a sovereign, all-powerful, loving God, seasons of difficulty and pain can destabilise our faith if we aren’t firmly rooted in our convictions. I don’t doubt that God will meet my young friend at his point of need. But like all of us, he must come to terms with God’s ways if He desires to see God’s glory [Exodus 33:13], and my primary role in his life is to help him on his journey.

There were times I wrestled with the “Where is God?” question as the storms of life raged. But I’ve now realised that the God of the Bible is a God of unbending principles [Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17b]. His integrity rests on His adherence to His word – His terms of engagement with us. As such, God cannot violate His word nor change His ways for anyone [Psalm 138:2, Romans 2:11]. Consequently, He must first say what He will do to set expectations [Amos 3:7]. When He does, every creature in heaven, earth and hell can hold Him to account to do what He said. In other words, Scripture is God’s commitment to all His creatures, legally binding to Him and us. So, if He acts outside those terms, He’d be acting unfairly, and God cannot be unfair because He’s just. Therefore,  He must treat His creation with perfect righteousness [Psalm 89:14]. That means not even Satan can accuse God of acting unjustly towards him. 

The conclusion I’ve drawn from recognising that God is a God of unbending principles is this: God can only act on His word. That implies that although He is loving, compassionate and kind, our tears, complaints, or unbiblical expectations will not move Him to act without His word. Some might understandably find my assertion hard to accept. Yet, our misunderstanding of God’s principles has caused many to reject or curse God, especially during difficult seasons. Like my young friend, I’ve been frustrated with God’s seeming lack of concern when I needed Him most. However, these days, I’ve unequivocally accepted that God is just. Therefore, He’s never the problem. I wholly understand that hearing that you may be missing something while in pain isn’t what most want to hear. But the truth is that our ignorance can tie God’s hands. However, if we can emulate Job, a man who knows a thing or two about hard times, and look inward, we might find the answers to change our realities and testimonies [Job 42:1-6].

Mercifully, God isn’t indifferent to our pain and suffering because that wouldn’t be loving. That means He’s actively trying to help us, even when we think we know what we’re doing because love always desires the highest good of the beloved [1 John 4:7-8]. So, how does God help us navigate the vicissitudes of life without violating His word? He leads us to discover His principles and then engraces us to apply them, enabling His power to act on our behalf [Colossians 3:10, 2 Peter 1:2]. I heard someone say recently that the biggest enemy of the believer is ignorance, not the devil. I agree because we alienate ourselves from God’s help when our understanding is darkened and consequently suffer unnecessarily [Ecclesiastes 10:15, Ephesians 4:18]. With God’s help, a believer overcomes the devil [James 4:7]. But without His help, the devil has carte blanche to rain havoc on an individual [Hosea 4:6, 2 Corinthians 2:11]. So, our ability to recognise and embrace those conduits of knowledge that reveal the mysteries and principles hidden in God’s word for us is vital to changing our circumstances [1 Corinthians 2:9-10].

I’ve realised that there are things you know that exempt you from certain circumstances permanently unless there’s wilful disobedience. For instance, during Jesus’s earthly ministry, He was neither sick nor broke. He lacked nothing until He chose to on the cross. That didn’t happen because He was the Son of God [Philippians 2:5-8]. The Spirit that rested upon Jesus rests on us today, and the same power and anointing he carried is also on us today [Romans 8:11, 2 Peter 1:9]. That’s why we can do everything Jesus did [John 14:12]. So, we can conclude that the difference between me or my young friend and Jesus is what we know – revelation knowledge [Ephesians 1:17]. Therefore, the Bible commands believers to prioritise their mental transformation because discernment is essential to our dominion over the vicissitudes of life [Romans 12:2, John 10:10].

Ultimately, what we need to change unfavourable situations or maintain favourable ones is knowledge and obedience of God’s principles. God isn’t trying to make life challenging for us. He isn’t playing hide and seek with us. But a just God can’t have favourites; otherwise, we could legitimately accuse Him of partiality [2 Chronicles 19:7]. While it’s understandable to ask “Where is God?” when calamity strikes, I’ve learnt that there are more helpful questions like “What don’t I know?” or “What am I missing?” God is on our side, always willing to help [Psalm 46:1]. So, whatever you’re going through, there’s a way out [1 Corinthians 10:13]. However, don’t disregard opportunities and promptings to address your ignorance because that’s how God leads us into the path of righteousness, where He meets our needs [Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:33].

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