A question that always seems to be floating around among Christians is this: “Why, God?” Well, this question leads us into a truth of God that is hard to understand, but that’s never stopped me. 😉
A lesson from wrestling
When I was in school, I was on the wrestling team, and I once won the title in my weight class. Because I had a lot of strength in my back and leg muscles, I used a technique where I’d let my opponent win a point by gaining a hold on top of me. Then I’d rise and flip my opponent on his back and pin him for the count. It was that move that often enabled me to win.
The idea of surrendering a point to our opponents to win the day is an old and well-established tool. It works in everything from wrestling to chess to business; in business, this is called a loss leader. I’m sure that this technique is from God, for God, Himself, uses this. Did I just say that God loses?! No, God doesn’t lose, but He does “will” some things that are displeasing to Him. Jesus, Himself, when facing His sacrifice on the cross, prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
God has two wills
We need to understand that God has two wills. One “will” is His unrevealed, decreed (absolute) will, and the other is His revealed will. For God, it’s just one will; His will. But for us, there is one that He shows to us in the Word of God and is amplified and clarified through prayer, observation, and theological education. However, His unrevealed will is at work in our world and our lives, but He has chosen not to show it to us. Consider this verse:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29
God’s “secret things,” His absolute will, establishes everything. Who is greater than God? Job understood this, he is quoted in Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” So, when I say everything, I do mean everything. God’s unrevealed, absolute will decrees everything from historical events to a person’s plans. Consider this verse in Proverbs 19:21:
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.“
Dr. R.C. Sproul said it this way:
God’s will of decree…extends even to the ordination of evil, for the Lord works out everything according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Importantly, not everything that God ordains in His hidden will is in itself pleasing to Him. Considered in themselves, He hates the evils He ordains, but He ordains them in order to overcome evil and achieve a greater good that does please Him.
Through it all
The Holy Spirit had the apostle Paul write in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Like in my wrestling move, God ordained evil to overcome evil which creates a greater good. The amazing Gospel singer and pastor, Andraé Crouch, wrote the song, “Through It All.” There is a line that says, “If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them. I’d never know what faith in God’s word could do.” There’s that wrestling move!
Perhaps I’ve raised some concern in your mind. You may think, “If God has decreed everything, then why should I bother praying?” It would take a book to give a comprehensive answer to your question, but here’s something that D.L. Moody wrote:
Someone may say, “‘If I am one of the elect [chosen by God] I will be saved, and if I ain’t I won’t…’ If you use that argument you may as well not walk home from this tabernacle. If God has said you’ll get home, you’ll get [home] – you’ll fly through the air, if you have been elected to go home.”D.L. Moody, Excuses, p. 88
Keeping it real
Do you see how facetious that person’s argument is? When it comes to salvation or buying a box of cereal, we need to understand that God isn’t playing some kind of cruel game with us; “You think you’re choosing, but you’re not.” Instead, God has said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
We are unable to think like God. You nor I can even think like Einstein or Beethoven or Michelangelo, and they were mere humans. We cannot understand anything that God has not revealed. Neither you nor I can use intuition to discover what God has hidden. To reinforce the truth that God’s absolute will is not playing a game with us, consider these verses:
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. – Revelation 22:17 (NKJV, emphasis added)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
So, let’s circle back to the opening question. “Why, God?” We may ask this about the troubles in our world. “Why, God, are you letting so-and-so do such-and-such?” The good news is that what is happening in our world is not a surprise to God. Perhaps what is happening is a “wrestling move” to get the Church back on track and focused on glorifying God and making disciples!
Before I close, I do want to specifically speak to the topic of prayer. Our prayers do not tell God something that He doesn’t know, for God is omniscient; He knows everything. Our prayers cannot twist God’s arm. Fasting and prayer is not about us changing God, it’s about God changing us.
God established prayer for our good and His glory. Prayer is for our benefit, even in light of the fact that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). It is our privilege to come before Father God, equipped by the Holy Spirit, and in the name of His beloved Son, Jesus.
Prayer is not just a command from God, it is our opportunity to commune with God and to ask Him for help. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
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