September 28, 2009

"You Lie!"

Happy Monday! I'm posting at Exemplify Online today. You can read the rest of my devotion there.

It was the shout heard ‘round the world—or at least around the country. Three weeks ago, during President Obama’s speech to Congress on health care. Rep. Joe Wilson so vehemently disagreed that he interrupted the speech and shouted, “You lie!”

His outburst stunned members of both parties. But given the acrimony displayed at recent town hall meetings, Rep. Wilson’s uncontained emotion wasn’t surprising. That he actually expressed it out loud was.
I wonder how many of those in attendance thought the same thing. Out of respect for the office of the President they kept their mouths shut, but inside their thoughts boiled, I don’t believe you!

As Christians we look to Scripture to hear God speak. And perhaps no verse provides more hope and comfort than Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s so beloved that when someone in a Bible study starts to quote it, others join in to finish. Inevitably heads nod in agreement.

However, when I look at my slice of the world I seem to see plenty of “harm.” I see lives wrecked by abuse and addiction. Poverty and pain. Infidelity and unemployment. And I see sickness and disease and cancer—so much cancer.

When I examine Jeremiah 29:11 and compare it to the reality in front of me, the words ring false. I want to question God, “You said you have a plan. That you’d prosper and not harm? Where is the protection? The prosperity? The future?”

And while I may not utter the words out loud, deep inside the thought simmers, Did God lie?

I’d guess Jeremiah thought the same thing.

Jeremiah was called to announce the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and proclaim the end of an era. During his tenure as prophet, God’s judgment was so extreme the Lord came close to inflicting the ultimate covenant curse; undoing everything He had promised the Jewish people. Living in the midst of this, Jeremiah had nagging doubts about his calling and God’s faithfulness. He accused the Lord of being undependable, “Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.” (15:18)
Lord, are you who you say you are…or did you lie?

Isn’t that the question that pricks our souls?

Saints throughout history have wrestled with this very question when confronted with circumstances that didn’t line up with God’s apparent promises. Moses died never entering the Promised Land. Sarah waited dozens of years for the promised baby. And Abraham saw little evidence of the covenant promise God made with him. In fact, all the ancients commended in Hebrews 11 died without receiving what God had promised.

Yet, they chose to believe God despite their circumstances, through their doubts and against logic. This is the epitome of faith, for faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is never easy. Much of the time, it makes little sense to our human minds. While we may not experience God in the way we want, when we want, when we look closely we find evidence of God’s goodness. And our souls spark with recognition of the Almighty.

In the past few months I've experienced God’s glory as I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, dug foundation holes for a new church in the Dominican Republic, worshipped with prisoners, laid with my son on the grass and watched for shooting stars, hugged my teenage daughter after a huge fight, received a note from a friend encouraging me in my writing … and whenever I read the Bible.
How about you?

When it comes to the issues our earthly minds can’t reconcile, we have a choice to make, don’t we?  We can grasp hold of what we do know and choose to press on through our uncertainty and disappointments. Or, we can choose to walk away from God in disbelief and seek our prosperity and future on our own, using society’s promises to deliver them.

Does God lie? Certainly not. But perhaps we can see His truth more clearly when we shift our focus—as the ancients did—from an immediate to an eternal one.

The world fills our ears with rhetoric, misinformation and doublespeak that masquerade as truth. If we can’t trust God at His word, who can we believe?


Kelly Combs said...

You're so right, we need to shift our focus. But it's hard when we want the response RIGHT NOW! Sometimes I feel like a 2 yr old stomping my feet and wanting an immediate response.

Thankfully God has lots of parenting experience! :-)

Analisa said...

I can honestly say this scripture is part of my prayer life. Like Kelly I too want an immediate response. I honestly for years didn't get it and blamed God for the hard things I saw around me and my own life. But we are distroyed by our lack of knowledge. I didn't have the real knowledge that God loves me. I have learned when I question God(which He can handle) I am really questioning his love. If you are love God why am I going through this. Does God really have a plan for me like his word said. Now I can answer that question. Absolutely. God is not a man that he should lie nor the son of man that he should repent. He is love. He speaks only the truth. But we have to do more than read a verse and go ok I believe that. We have to make it active. How. Well declare the word over my situation. Lord I need money, healthcare and other resources. Your word says you have a plan for me. That you know my needs. I will not go by what I see, because I walk by faith not by sight. So I fully expect your help because you love me and gave your son and the word says it you didn't hold back you son, how will you withhold any good thing I have need of.

I find the more word I learn, the more word I have to stand on, the more I know the the Father loves me. It is the enemy that introduces sin,sickness and poverty. We can overcome these thing through the word. I have seen it come to pass in my life and in the life of others.

God will not lie, but he will love us in the midst of our doubts. Believe me I've had many.

Peggy said...

Dear Friend,
God does not lie, and even though we walk through the shadow of death, yes Kelli, He IS with us.
Today was a bad day for me, more information than I wanted to know, however, with the help from Gloria and a few other friends I know God has pleanty of strenght to give me and get me through the darkness.
We have to remember that God answers prayers, IN HIS TIME, not ours.

Trust Him , He never lies just gives us all that we need, always.
Blessings and Love....Peggy

Cheryl Barker said...

A good, thought-provoking post, Kelli. God also tells us that we will have trouble in this world (Jn. 16:33)so we have to keep that truth in mind, too. Like you said, a change in focus -- an eternal perspecitve -- is needed.

Blessings to you this week!

Analisa said...

This was a great post. It got even better when I clicked on the link at the bottom that said read more. Now if I had only done that before I left my comment I would have known that you explored and answered this question with the Word. Thanks and I learned a lesson about jumping to conclusions. LOL

JerryLyn said...

Such a great, thought-provoking post, Kelli! Maybe it would be easier to believe God must have lied. But having gone through a share of suffering in my own life, I think the opposite it so true. God you were so right! God, when everyone else falls away--you remain faithful. That is what I cling to in hard times, dark times. I so trust fully that will make a way out of my brokenness or illness or whatever it is. I wouldn't wish some of what I've gone through on anyone, but how can I keeping from singing His praises, when He is so faithful. I grow stronger everyday and I see His face and I feel His grace so deeply. His mercies are in, indeed, new every morning. Praise the God of truth!

Julie Gillies said...

You know, Kelli, it's SO easy to fall into unbelief because things don't happen immediately. I can't help but think that I sometimes act like a spoiled, demanding child. Thank God for His forgiveness, and for His grace.

God is NOT a liar. And I WILL believe matter what my circumstances say. May my focus ALWAYS be on Him and His ability.

Sue J. said...

Jeremiah's doubts had me recalling Proverbs: "Will you be to a spring that fails." Goodness, to think of our wellspring failing--"Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life!"

So many excellent points here! God gave us freewill, so we certainly have the choice of doubting. However, His Word gives us so many reasons and examples of why we shouldn't. "Take heart. I have overcome the world." Jesus' words put the emphasis where it should be--not on us!

Cheryl's right-on about the world having its troubles, and the Bible also calls us to submit, humble ourselves and recognize that God will lift us up from all of it. (James 4)

On another point, Jesus' said "Let your 'yes' be 'yes', and though we may not agree with the congressman's disrespectful approach in stating his 'yes,' we know where he stands. We might question the murmurings of our hearts. Murmurings and grumblings are definitely not 'yes' in terms of following in the Lord's way.

We can believe in whom we choose to believe. But who offers grace in the wake of our doubts and mistakes? I am thankful to believe in that One!

Apron of the Month Club said...

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