Really Lord?

  • Randy Karlberg
Woman looking outside a rainy window

Have you ever been tempted to or actually uttered the words, “Really Lord?”  After all, if God is really Sovereign, and He is, should He not be responsible for what happens in the world as a whole and in our lives specifically?  Yes God is in control of everything and He does bless as well as bring judgment.  I am realizing that the problem we as human beings have with understanding what God is up to often is the undeniable fact that we forget we are indeed human beings!  Now I haven’t checked the news media outlets lately, but I am pretty sure that even the most “open-minded” philosopher in the world would at this point still support the statement that human beings are in fact human beings.  Okay, if I am off on this particular bold assumption, please continue reading.  I hope to give you something profitable to consider.  

One of the main issues to grapple with when we head down this path is that of charge of responsibility.  This issue is not that God is somehow evading accountability.  The fact is God is not responsible to anyone but His own character.  If anything, asking this question borders on trying to avoid responsibility personally and have it reside with someone else.  Our current culture is a master in rejecting and deflecting responsibility!  Current commonly practiced strategies focus on never admitting fault, rather adjust emphasis to a fringe related point and make such a big stink about it that your accuser is on the defensive and loses focus on the initial charge.  This tactic obviously will not work with God because He, number one, knows our heart better than we do.  And two He is never bogged down by specific quandaries.  He has the whole picture finished and reveals it judiciously as He deems appropriate. 

 So what should we do with the thoughts and questions of God being in control of the brutal moments in our lives or the question, “Is God even good at all?”  I think it would behoove us to look at just a couple of Bible characters who had to wrestle with these questions in their own lives.  First let’s look at Job.  Now Job was an incredibly blessed man.  He was also a man who was righteous in the eyes of God.  Job 1:1 says, Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”  One would deduce that if Job really is “blameless” that he probably did not have much growth to gain from struggles in his life.  Fortunately for Job, God did not have the same reasoning.  It is extremely interesting to read the discussion between Satan and The Lord in Job 1 & 2.  If anything it sounds like God, desiring to prove to Satan how righteous Job was, took the bait of a challenge to persecute Job so as to really see if when he was in utter agony, Job would curse God.  So after losing all of his herds, his property being ransacked, all ten of his children dying at the same time in a “natural disaster,” and being inflicted with very loathsome skin wounds from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, Job still did not curse God or sin against Him.  In fact, in Job 2:9-10 we read of Job’s wife telling him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die.”   Job’s response to his wife is remarkable and shows his eternal commitment to God despite cruel circumstances that at minimum God allows.  “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”  We are then told, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  Now if you are struggling with this treatment of Job, skip ahead and read God’s words to Job recorded in Job 38-41!  I don’t even need to comment on that.  Enough said! 

Okay let’s look at one more person (please note that there are many more of these examples in Scripture).  The book of Daniel tells us of a young Israelite man about 15 years old who was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon.  His name was Daniel.  In this book we are introduced to Daniel, along with three other young Israelite men who were taken captive and led away in constraints.  They were placed in a training program to serve in the king’s palace.  However, in order to continue with this training program, they would have to go against some of the standards that God had placed over His people the Israelites.  It would seem reasonable for Daniel and his friends to be tempted to have the attitude that God had left them or was placing them in this situation so they had some kind of right to cast off the lifestyle restrictions that God had placed on His people.  With this temptation before them, Daniel and his friends chose to honor God with their lives in the best way they could.  They rejected the delicacies and pleasures of the king’s palace and instead remained committed to serve God in the best and most consistent way they could.  And God rewarded them for this in several ways.  But they were not immune from persecution and treachery against the very righteous behavior they continued to live out.  In the midst of righteous living they were mocked, persecuted, and conspired against.  They did get to realize first hand God saving them in miraculous ways.  Their praise of the Lord and righteous living continued on even though they never saw physical deliverance from being a slave in a foreign land. 

 I think the best summary of how each of these Biblical characters grew in their realization of who God is comes from the unlikely source of the infamous and eventually redeemed King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar himself.  After God used mental illness to reform his narcissistic mindset, Nebuchadnezzar is quoted in Daniel 4:34-35 as saying, “I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” 

The once mighty Nebuchadnezzar had the blessing of the Almighty God giving him trials so that he might have an accurate view of the Creator God.  Daniel and his three friends also had the privilege to serve the Lord as foreign slaves and see Him work mightily in their lives.  Even Job amidst all the suffering and agony responded to God’s chastisement in Job 42 with “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’  I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”  After the righteous discipline brought by the One True God each of these human beings realized that they could not fathom the motives of God.  They responded in complete humility and awe of God and His ways.   May we never be so audacious as to call our God into question with careless words and prideful hearts.