I love hearing people track with me as we study through the book of Micah and ask the hard questions and do the real heart evaluation required. Most of the questions and evaluation seem to come around the subject of “the oncoming train.” I’ve been using the picture of the prophets who walked people through a dark train tunnel with light visible in the distance. Sometimes the prophets say that light is an oncoming train bringing judgment, and other times they say that is the light of God’s rescue out the other side of the tunnel. Thus the questions: Is God judging me? Bringing me affliction? Punishing me when hard times come? Is it Satan trying to tempt me? Just living in a fallen world? How do I know? All good, fair, and thoughtful questions. Guess what? The prophets didn’t always know the answer to those questions, and that is why sometimes the Lord speaks through them of a near fulfillment of judgment and rescue, and other times a far fulfillment of judgment and rescue. So, my answers begins with something like – “God is for you! And He is passionately committed to growing His children. He wants growth, obedience and faith for those who call Him Lord. He will let nothing stand between you and intimacy with Him. And what we don’t always understand is those things that stand in the way of that happening.” Followed by …
Is this difficult situation just part of living in a fallen world? For sure. Sin corrupts, disrupts, and messes with all of creation. There is nothing that is not effected by sin, the world groans waiting for its rescue. Economies hit the tank, cars break, disease is no respecter of persons, and people fail us. We know for certain that this isn’t heaven and never will be, so expect stuff to not work right, go right, or make us right. You and I will always experience the sufferings of this present world … we just need to remember that they are nothing to be compared with what awaits us.
Is Satan tempting me, trying to get me to fail? For sure. He wants nothing more than to make you bitter, angry, and isolated. He will use the brokenness of the world to undermine your confidence in a good God. He wants you to give in to the flesh and mistrust God. He wants you to make other gods to run to, and to love yourself and your ideas more than God and His plan. I don’t have to understand everything about spiritual warfare to know that there is indeed an invisible spiritual battle that goes. I know that we must put on the whole armor of God because we wrestle not against flesh and blood (only), but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Our job is not to claim victory over darkness (Jesus already has). Our job is not to cast out demons (Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world). Our job in not to pray formula prayers, or put more confidence in ourselves. Our job is to hold Dad’s hand as tightly as we can, trust His plan for us, walk through the dark tunnel with great faith, and preach the precious promises of the Gospel to ourselves … and to obey day after day after day!
Is God punishing me, afflicting me, or trying to get me to learn something? Punishing? NO way, not if you are in Christ … the punishment for sin has already been absorbed at the cross. Afflicting? Possibly, because good parents love their kids enough to discipline them … it proves that they are sons and daughters. But He never means ultimate harm, has no evil intent, and never rejoices in administering the spanking. Therefore it’s always right to evaluate your heart and seek His face over those idols in your heart that He may be trying to root out. He’ll do what must be done to fit us for heaven, even if we call it affliction here on earth. And make no mistake, He wastes nothing. That means that He is always using the stuff of life to grow us. What man means for evil, or what Satan intends for our faltering, God uses as the classroom for greater faith.
And here’s the kicker for me. What if He wants to walk us through the dark tunnel to show us greater things on the other side? What if He has new things in store for us that we would never chose on our own? What if He wants to usher us into a new chapter of Gospel ministry or a new season of fruitfulness, and we miss it because we refuse to walk through the dark tunnel with Him? I never want my “eyes of sight” to keep me from clearer “eyes of faith” and missing out on the good gifts from my loving Dad. What gift do you have for me next Father? I want it!
Always wanting to grow … no matter what,