I finished reading Through the Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot last night. I have to say it took a while to get through all the flight plans and strictly informational style of writing, but the 2nd Epilogue made the read so worth it. To the point that I while I give the book 3 stars, I would tell you to please go read it.
In a world full of suffering, our inclination is to be selfish through our own. We want the hurting to stop. We want healing. We want it to be spring again. So we focus on our needs, our wants, our desires. We are taught that our faith must be strong and God will move. Like our sinful faith is somehow greater than our holy God. We are told we have sin that we must rid. But who doesn't??
"It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing else less than God, for the work is God's and the call is God's and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package- our bravery and our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses."
We are even told, falsely, that God is only over the good of this world. But doesn't the Bible teach that ALL things are from above? Both good and bad? (Lamentations 3:38, Job 2:10. Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 32:42)
As Christians, suffering brings refinement. It brings growth and a closeness to our Lord that cannot be achieved when everything is going well. Through the hard times, we gain an eternal view of the world around us. We are reminded that this life is but a breath. We are refocused on God. And, many times, it brings us to our knees in repentance.
"Cause and effect are in God's hands. Is it not the part of faith simply to let them rest there? God is God."
During these times, we must learn to rest in the unchanging character of God. We must sit at the feet of our Sovereign Lord recognizing that His ways are not ours, but that HE IS GOOD no matter what the outcome. We must remind ourselves who God is rather than what we think we are.
"God is God of human history, and He is at work continuously, mysteriously, accomplishing His eternal purposes in us through us for us, and in spite of us."
I LOVE the final chapter of Job.
After losing everything, declaring his innocence, declaring that no one knows God's ways, and then listing exactly what God's ways should look like, God comes out of a whirlwind (Seriously, check it out! It's crazy, freaky! I would have peed and pooped all over myself) and declares his sovereignty and hand in all creation. Never does God answer Job's questions of why he is suffering or what he did wrong to deserve such treatment, but instead God reveals Himself to Job.
In the final chapter of Job, Job realizing his sin and answers the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things,Oh, that I would repent of my consumerism-based faith and realize that all I need is God in good times and the bad. May I rest there knowing that he is in control and that there is nothing better. May I show the same faith and trust, Elizabeth Elliot showed when she went into the homes of her husband's killers and years after that experience later wrote:
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘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.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
"during all the years since as I have recounted it and reflected on it in the light of my own subsequent experience, has pointed to one thing: God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere, but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakaby beyond my largest notions of what He is up to."
God is God.