When you're feeling small in a big world

The following is an excerpt from Instead of Disgrace…

It’s easy to get God and life mixed up. It’s even easy to get the hand of God and the work of the devil mixed up. I believe that’s because the two opposing spiritual forces—good and evil, light and darkness—are at work at all times.

People often confuse the will of God with trouble when they don’t understand the nature of God. They may suspect that God wants them to be sick or poor or lonely to teach them a lesson. Anyone who thinks that God makes them sick will struggle to receive healing, and those who believe that God has destined them to be poor may, unfortunately, always be poor.

For the record, sickness and poverty and lack are not Kingdom culture. If it isn’t God’s will in Heaven, it isn’t God’s will on Earth

Why, then, are so many believers living lives that do not seem to reflect their faith? That, my friend, is the gap we face as we struggle to reconcile our faith and our reality. It’s the gap between the way things should be and the way things are. It’s the difference between the Truth and the facts.

I’m always amazed at the people who believe that everything that happens is somehow God’s perfect will. If this were the case, Jesus wouldn’t have found it necessary to pray in that direction—which is exactly what He did when He taught the disciples how to pray.  (See the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13.) “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” reflects the will of God. “As it is in heaven” indicates how it’s done inside the pearly gates. 

Here again, we find it expedient to know the mind of Christ, to seek His heart. To think as He thinks. The standard in Heaven is righteousness, peace, and joy—and there is plenty of that to be found on the Earth. But it doesn’t take a certified board of social workers to confirm that the heavenly standard is not always upheld on the planet. Just take a look around! The antitheses of those righteous characteristics—sin, stress, anxiety, sadness, hatred, and misery, just to name a few—are widespread. Yes, the Kingdom of God is alive and well on planet Earth, but the kingdom of darkness is too. The will of God is being done in our world, but so is Satan’s. The devil is busy, and unfortunately, his dark will is performed often among humans.

We can all look at our past and see the footprints of sin in our history. And yes, that’s what we call Satan’s will and purpose: sin. It may be an ugly word, but there it is. And if we are honest with ourselves—which we must be—we will acknowledge that we allowed it. We are responsible for many of our circumstances, though not all. It’s impossible to shift the blame of our failures onto others (even God) when we own our mistakes, accept our failures, and take responsibility for our life. And by the way, taking responsibility is a mark of exceptional emotional growth.

God is always working for good, even amid great tribulation. (Romans 8:28) Satan, the accuser, is working for death and destruction. (John 10:10) And of course, the human will cannot be omitted from the equation, as it wields the power of choice that creates an environment conducive for the Spirit of God to move or for dark forces of evil to act. There are multiple forces at work at all times.

But God can and does use your circumstances to accomplish His purposes. That doesn’t mean that He created those situations, however. You undoubtedly created many of your problems yourself, though you probably had some help—but God has the power and the authority to use even those situations you created outside of His will. He uses them in the most surprising ways, and He does it because He is Lord of your life. He owns it all.

God is sovereign. Sovereign is a big word; it means “supreme power.” But again, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens is His will. Much of what goes on among humanity is far outside the will of God. Jesus’ prayer is verification that divine will is not always executed. If it were, Jesus wouldn’t have prayed for it. 

God doesn’t start trouble. He doesn’t initiate hatred and violence. The Lord isn’t the instigator of greed, manipulation, lust, jealousy, and pride. He doesn’t inspire humans to murder, rape, and rob. But He is still sovereign. He is still “head above all.” And he can use the pain, anguish, and brokenness caused by sin to bring righteousness and light into life.

Countless people ask, Why did God allow this to happen? The answer, though simple, is not simplistic. It’s about choice, that gift which God granted to mankind in the beginning: the power to choose, to be a free moral agent, one who has the right to make moral judgments and to be held accountable for his actions. God is a God of His Word, and He will not rescind that gift, even when people misuse it. But when men and women choose to operate outside the parameters of God’s law—when they stop acting like their Heavenly Father and start acting like the devil—chaos will ensue. 

Yet He is still “head above all.” He is still sovereign. 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. — Matthew 10:29-31

Jesus expresses the love and care of the Father in this verse. Nothing escapes the attention of Heaven. Bad things and tragic events do happen on planet Earth, but it’s not because God doesn’t care. It’s not that He doesn’t see or that He’s aloof and indifferent about the condition of mankind—including disease, accidents, abuse, neglect, and cruelty. Sin is the culprit. God hates sin, but He has granted mankind the gift of choice through dominion of the Earth. (Genesis 1:16) He cannot and will not go back on His Word.  

But what He can do—and will do—is use the adversity to make you better. He moves amid tragedy and evil. Like fighting fire with fire, God uses the effects of sin to fight the sin condition. He works His will in and among the unholiest of wrongs, and if you a born-again believer, you can be certain that not only can He do this regarding you, but He most certainly will do it. You agreed to this arrangement when you gave your life to Christ as your Lord and Savior. The word “lord” means the supreme authority, one who has power and control over others, one who owns it all. God does, indeed, own it all. And if Jesus Christ is your Lord, then he owns all of you—and He can use anything and everything at His disposal to bring about your ultimate good, to polish you into the very image of Himself, to prepare you for work in His Kingdom. The very thing that the devil would use against you, God will use for your good and the advancement of His kingdom. 

Life can be hard, and it can get complicated. But don’t get life and God mixed up. Don’t ever think that God brought about an affliction in your life because you learned something from it or benefitted in some way. Everything doesn’t have to have a reason. We live in a fallen world, and that’s why good things happen to bad people. 

God can make something good out of something bad because He is the ultimate in goodness. He is Sovereign. He is God!

Debbie Wallace

Author, The Armor Series and The Freedom Class

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Where Lives Are Changed