Sunday, June 10, 2012


"Why didn't you do what I asked you to do?!?!?"

What is the typical context for this question?  Parents griping at their children?  A boss chewing out one of his employees?  What's the common theme there?  Someone in a position of authority dressing down someone under them.  Yet, I found myself very honestly asking this question of God a couple of days ago.  So, if we go with the observation I just made, this means that I had decided to put myself as the authority over God.

Why?  Well, there are a few scriptures that I was using to theologically justify myself.  Jesus tells us, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  (Matthew 7:7)  He also says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you." (Luke 17:6)  Finally, the Bible also says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5 no, I wasn't asking for wisdom, but I felt like it should apply.)

So, I have two things that are conflicting in my head.  First of all, I prayed adamantly about something - and it didn't happen.  On the one hand, I realize that I am not God, and I have no right to judge Him; He is definitely the one in a position of authority, and I am not.  Yet, at the same time, I don't know how this fits with His promises.  I realize, very honestly, that a lot of people pray for a lot of things, and many of them do not happen.  How many of you have had a loved one that was sick or dying, and that person wasn't healed?  If God truly gave us what we asked for in every situation, then I think that the human race would be immortal on this world, every sports team would win every championship, there would be a lot more people with more money, fancier cards, and prettier dates - but these are not necessarily the best things.  Also, we would have humans deciding what was best in every situation, even though our scope of understanding about that situation is incredibly limited.  I don't think that Jesus was saying in the verses I quoted that He has chosen to submit all of His power under our authority.  After all, if that were the case, then we wouldn't have to ask God to do something - we would tell God what to do.  

Yet, there is still the other aspect of this.  These statements of Jesus were God's promises towards us.  I have struggled with doubt throughout my life (it's one of the things I've written about previously).  So, it challenges (scares) me when I don't understand how God fulfills His promises.  The things I asked for were much smaller than moving an entire mountain - and yet they didn't occur.  Does this mean that I didn't have enough faith?  If I don't have a mustard seed of faith, then how can I have enough faith to reach out to God and to trust in Him about my eternal salvation?  It is very scary to me to realize that I am completely at the mercy of an entity outside of myself for my eternal destiny.  But, ultimately, I believe that this is what God is asking of us - to trust in Him explicitly, even when we don't begin to understand what He is doing.  And, at this point, I really have to just abandon my own understanding and let Him do what He will in my life.  Maybe then I will begin to gain understanding - if He chooses to share it with me.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Josh. I've struggled with this same thing before, and I think that some of the problem comes from how simply the Luke passage (and similarly, Matthew 17:20) is stated. It seems to imply that you can just ask for anything you want, believe that God can give it to you, and "poof" it will happen.

    But it's pretty obvious that God isn't going to do just anything that we ask Him to do. I mean, certainly, if we ask Him to bring harm to someone else, He's not going to do that just because we have faith that He will. Or just a step farther, He's also not going to give us a million dollars just because we ask for it.

    My understanding of these passages is that the faith Jesus is talking about is faith that God can and will follow through with his promises. So if we're plugged into God's will and, in faith, pray that he do something that He already has will to do, it will happen.

    In Luke 17:7-10 (just after the passage you mentioned), for instance, Jesus is speaking about the duty of a servant. So I think that the statement about faith is really more in line with those things that God tells us to do but which may seem scary or even impossible in our own power. But God promises that, as long as we go to Him in faith and ask Him to work through and around us, He'll be there to move that tree or mountain or whatever is in the way.

    So again, it's less about being a "cosmic wishlist" and more of God giving power to the faithful to do His will.

    That's my take, anyway...