“Why does this dessert I made taste funny? It tasted so good over at Sally's.” “Why are we having trouble with money? We are generous, and we always tithe.” “It's just not right that Roberta has cancer. She is such a faithful woman—always helping anyone in need.”
We ask these kinds of questions and make these kinds of statements every day of the year. We're convinced we are using the right recipe but the dessert just doesn't turn out. We're convinced we are doing all the right things, but the money's simply not there. We're convinced that being good and serving God ought to keep us healthy (or at least alive) but it doesn't seem to.
When bad things happen to good people, we have our ready‐made list handy, with statements such as:
- We live in a fallen world.
- God's ways are mysterious.
- God will use this in a might way.
- The devil is really doing battle.
While I actually don't disagree with any of these sample responses, they have the potential to keep us from facing what is most difficult to face—missing ingredients. A common statement made among the poor is, “There are no jobs!” It is true the American economy is slow and unemployment is high. But it is a wrong conclusion for an individual to say, “I can't find a job.” I respond with: “The reason you can't find a job is because you are missing something.” But it is difficult to face those missing ingredients. In the case of finding a job personal hygiene, attitude, perspective, documentation, strategy, or some other issue always stands between that individual and success.
What do we do when what should happen doesn't happen? When we understand a promise of God in the Word, and it doesn't come to pass, what do we do? Are we willing to consider that maybe, just maybe, some ingredients are missing?
I think we start making exceptions for God's promises, without even realizing it. Rather than trying to search out the missing ingredients that can elevate us to the level of His promise, we disqualify ourselves from the promise as if we are some kind of exception to His goodness.
And with every exception we make to any one of His promises, we diminish or eliminate the possibility of ever seeing that promise manifest in our lives. Instead of holding on to His reality—determined to find those missing ingredients—we give in to our own reality.
I want to show you how easy it is to settle for your own reality, instead of reaching for His. I could pick any one of God's many promises, but I'm going to use healing as my example, because we all need healing. Health issues are right up there at the top of prayer requests. I'm also using healing because it's controversial. But I'm not trying to stir up a hornets' nest. I'm trying to stir up some thought.
What if I make the statement: “God can heal”? Will I create much controversy? I won't get into trouble with such a statement, because it just wouldn't be a good thing if God “couldn't” do something. I don't need any Bible verses to back this one up.
What if I make the statement: “God will heal—if He chooses to”? Still not too much controversy…. Most of us are pretty comfortable saying, “If it be God's will, God will heal.” So I don't need to defend my statement with any Scriptural references.
Do you know why most of us don't have any issue with the first two statements? These statements don't offend us because they don't contradict our reality. Just about anything bad or good can be happening in our lives and we can still say, “God can heal.” In the same way, regardless of our circumstances we can still say, “God will heal, if he chooses to.” Our reality doesn't disagree with God's Word, so we don't have to pick a side.
While both of these statements are absolutely true in the context of God's Word, they are not absolutely complete. If I say, “God can heal” then I am comforted in my affliction, but my affliction remains. If I say, “God will heal, if it be His will” then I have even more comfort knowing He will heal me if He wants to—but my affliction remains.
I do not want to diminish the Lord's comfort in any way. Every Person of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is referred to in the Word as a source of comfort:
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3 NLT)
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV)
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16‐17 KJV)
But we have “better promises” made possible through Jesus (see Hebrews 8:6).
For all the promises of God in Him [are] Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV)
We are not limited to just being comforted by God. Take a moment to either remember (if you grew up with a hymnal) or look up the lyrics to “When We All Get to Heaven,” a hymn published in 1898. I grew up singing the beautiful lyrics of this old hymn. What a wonderful anticipation of the glory of Heaven. But as I look back, this hymn was sung more as an anthem to endure life on this earth rather than as a declaration of the joy of Heaven. I am absolutely confident of what was going on in most of the minds singing that old hymn: “We are comforted in this life, but we will be changed in the next!”
We do have the promise of comfort in this life, but we are not limited to just comfort. We have the promise of change. Blind Bartimaeus was changed. Paul was changed. We have dozens and dozens of other examples in the Word. Do we really believe that change stopped at the end of the New Testament… that we are only left with comfort in modern times?
Before we continue tomorrow, I am asking you to consider those areas in your life where God's comfort is so important to you. Please consider if you have been settling for comfort when you could be experiencing change.
Have a good day,