On this Memorial Day, please take a moment to thank all of those who have served this magnificent country of ours and have lost their lives doing so. Be they first responders or military personnel, we owe so much to them. They made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us, this country, and our freedoms. I humbly thank each and every one and pray that your families find comfort in the arms of our living God.
David Kay starts this Day with a story about mistaken identity. I was working as a teacher for Baldridge Reading and Study Skills, a private firm in Greenwich, CT that was contracted by schools throughout the world to provide their unique brand of reading speed and comprehension, study skills, and writing effectiveness. It was a great job that took me around the world for two years. During one season I found myself working at Elizabethtown College just down Route 743 from Hershey, Pennsylvania. I had the students for the four weeks before Spring Break and during one of our last classes one of the kids brought in a couple bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs for the class to share.
I remember gleefully biting in to one only to find that it was so fresh that the chocolate and peanut butter actually dissolved on my tongue. It just melted away. I’d never, in my whole life, tasted a Reese’s that was so fresh and immediately started gushing about how remarkable the experience was. I must have blathered on for a good 5 minutes and probably downed at least one more (oh, who am I kidding, a couple more!) before I turned to the student and said, “How did you ever find a bag of Reese’s so fresh?”
The class grew silent as the young man looked at me incredulously. I immediately thought to myself, what a stupid question, the chocolate center of the USA is right up the road. But the boy just asked softly, “Miss Clarke, what’s my last name?” I thought for a minute before I realized … it was Reese. What a dope!
David makes a point on this day to say that relationships don’t work well if we don’t make an effort to get to know each other and I certainly felt stupid not remembering that I had a Reese in my class – actually two – because the boy’s older sister was also one of my students. Doh!
In this session David pulls out several passages where he wants the reader to highlight what the passage says about God. He uses Psalm 103:19, Jeremiah 32:17-19 & 27, Deuteronomy 32:3-4 and Romans 11:33 to name a few. However, the verse that made me pause was when God is speaking about Himself in Isaiah 45:7
The One forming the light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the Lord who does all these.
Did you blink right there? Whaddya mean God creates calamity?
I had an occasion once to tussle with a Pastor over this issue after being told in a classroom setting that God causes pain and suffering. I was not well read (biblically-speaking) and couldn’t comprehend that God would cause pain, suffering, and even disaster. The Pastor talked a lot about Job which I acquiesced was God allowing Satan to bring suffering to Job to make a point, but that He didn’t actually cause the suffering. Even though it still didn’t sit right with me, I walked out of our meeting thinking that I might be able to wrap my mind around God allowing disaster. I wasn’t there yet but I would give it serious consideration.
Somewhere in the years that followed I settled in my mind that God was sovereign over all, and realized that if I am to believe that God is completely in control, then I must also believe that God allows the good and the bad and will even cause joy and pain if it accomplishes His purposes. It’s not an easy concept to come to grips with and I can’t tell you how long I wrestled with it before I let it saturate my psyche until it was planted as truth. This knowledge has certainly helped me in my bout with cancer.
Recently, I read the book Knowing God by J.I. Packer. In it he uses a verse in Romans as a similar example and brings up a very important point.
“Therefore consider God’s kindness and severity …” Romans 11:22a
Packer’s point is the importance of the word “and” which you also find in the Isaiah scripture above. We must comprehend that it is our limited thinking that has given human attributes to God when we say we have to accept “the good and the bad” about God. He is not neither good nor bad. He is Him. In these scriptures we must realize that God is both good and severe – He brings light and darkness – He causes happiness and disaster. He is both, He is all, He is everything. He is omnipotent and He is sovereign.
It’s so popular today to just want to believe in a God of grace without consequence. I can only imagine that people who espouse this view are attempting to lessen the devastating truth of sin but all it does is end up cheapening Christ’s work on the cross. We cannot forget that Jesus is our Savior and our ultimate judge.
So while I pray and ask God to expand my mind to accept what is written in Isaiah 45:7, I’ll leave you with just this …
Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we will ever have in this life or the next. As we would with any friend, let’s make a concerted effort to get to know Him better. Make it our life’s work. Don’t ever stop because we both know He is unfathomable.
Next up … Days 5 and 6: Stronger in the word.