We have all heard the saying, ‘God works in mysterious ways.’ In fact, many people believe that’s actually a verse in the Bible. I can assure you that it’s not – but there is a Scripture in Isaiah that does convey a similar thought.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9)
It seems reasonable to us that God would open a certain door of opportunity for us, instead He might close the door. It seems reasonable to us that if God truly loves us and cared about our happiness that He would heal our sick loved one and give us more time with them; instead He calls them home. It seems reasonable to us that God would bring our time of trial or trouble to an end after we have asked Him to; and instead He may allow that trial to go on and on. It seems reasonable to us that God would give us exactly what we asked for; and instead He gives us something very different. One of the greatest challenges to all of us in the Christian life is reaching that level of spiritual maturity where we completely trust God. One reason why that poses such a great challenge to us is because God doesn’t always act as we expect Him to act and when God doesn’t do things the way we think He ought to, some people become disappointed and disillusioned with God; some get angry and bitter towards God; and some even lose their faith completely and give up on God.
Why did God command Moses to take the Israelites through the Red Sea? Why didn’t He have Moses take them some other way?
Why did God command Joshua and the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho for seven days? Why didn’t God just snap His fingers and destroy Jericho and save Joshua and the Israelites all that trouble?
Why did God allow Joseph to be thrown into a pit and carried off as a slave to Egypt? Why didn’t God just say, “Joseph, I need you to go to Egypt – I have plans for you there?”
Why did God have young David go out with just a sling-shot to slay Goliath? Why didn’t God just send a bolt of lightning and zap the big lug?
Why did God allow Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be thrown into the fiery furnace? Why didn’t He just wipe out Nebuchadnezzar and all the Babylonians?
Why did God allow His only begotten Son to die an agonizing death on the Cross? Why didn’t He just send ten thousand angels to deliver Jesus?
Why does God allow so much sickness, disease and pain in the world? If He can heal all sickness and disease, why doesn’t He just do it?
Why does God allow so much evil to prosper in the world? It’s obvious He took evil people out of this world in the Bible? Why doesn’t He do it now?
The answer to all of the above is as simple as it is frustrating. The answer is, God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.
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I ASKED GOD
I asked for strength – God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom – God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity – God gave me the ability to work.
I asked for courage – God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for patience – God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.
I asked for love – God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favours – God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted – I received everything I needed.
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I have learned a lot about trusting God from the story of Job. In the midst of great trouble, Job had to trust the Lord. I can only imagine the fear he experienced as one horrible circumstance after another unfolded in his life. If you remember the story of Job, then you know that he lost everything – and I mean everything that was of any importance to him – Job lost it all. Yet at the end of his story Job repents and sings praises to God as he proclaims, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” ( Job 42:2 ). Job suffered greatly, and, I imagine, he was very confused. His friends didn’t do a good job of comforting him; Job even called them “miserable comforters” ( Job 16:2 ). But Job turned to God and was convinced of the wisdom of God, even in the midst of great pain and confusion. We get a glimpse of Job’s view of God when he says, “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” ( Job 9:4 ), and, “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding.” ( Job 12:13 ). Job isn’t thinking about how he feels at the moment or even his current circumstances. Instead, Job realizes that in order to minister to his own heart he must remember the character of God – who God is, and why He can be trusted. Job doesn’t ignore his pain – but he does remember his King.
So what did God do? He restored Job and his fortunes. He gave him twice as much livestock as he had previously possessed and gave him more children: seven sons and three daughters. Job was restored and blessed abundantly. The Lord worked in unexpected ways. The end of the book of Job almost reads like that familiar passage of triumph over pain in Romans 8. Job had learned a truth about God that many years later would be uttered by the apostle Paul:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31–37)
God doesn’t do anything in His sovereign will that isn’t both wise and loving. If God is for you, who can be against you? Don’t trust God simply because someone tells you to. Don’t trust God because two verses in Isaiah tell you that His thoughts are not your thoughts and His ways are not your ways. Trust God because He is God – He is holy and awesome and righteous in every way. This world presents us reasons every day to give up and feel like God has lost control of His creation and it’s times like that when we need to read Romans 8:28 again and again: “… in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
There may be a situation going on in your life right now that you don’t understand. You don’t know why it is happening. You don’t know how long it will go on. You don’t know how it is going to turn out. God doesn’t ask you to understand, He just asks you to trust Him. Hear his voice again today: “Trust Me. Trust that I am with you in this situation. Trust that I have a purpose in this situation and trust that I will see you through this difficult time. Just trust in me, for My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways … for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. Just trust me.”