“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
I was thirteen years old when I first read this passage from the book of Isaiah. I thought that after all these years of reading the bible, I would be able to apply this verse and take on the right perspective when the unexpected happens. Our guest pastor today pointed out that the danger with scripture verses that are so familiar is that they do become too familiar such that our knee jerk response becomes “I’ve heard that before.” So for the nth time in my life, I pray to dive deep and seek refuge in the wonderful truth that God’s ways are not my ways; that there is an enormous difference between what He knows (i.e. what He had always known) and what I will ever know. If I’m having a hard time with this, I’ve either thought too little of my God or too much of myself (or both). If the disparity between who He is and who I am, between his knowledge and mine, is unsettling instead of comforting, then my heart needs to go back to the shadow of the cross – the place where Christ died to bridge that great divide. Only when we humble ourselves before him can we truly rest in the incomprehensible greatness of God and submit to his sovereignty. The cross clarifies my proper position – that of absolute dependence upon him who needs no guidance from me at all in accomplishing his purposes. Here I am reminded of who it is who sits on the throne. He is the One who sees all things and does what he pleases.
“Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” Psalm 135:6
Arthur Pink, author of The Attributes of God, wrote: “God does as he pleases, only as he pleases, always as he pleases. None can thwart him. None can hinder him.” As a recipient of God’s mercy and grace, I find this reassuring. But when the story of life doesn’t follow the plot I would have written, I sometimes forget that God is still in charge and that he is, in fact, doing as he pleases, which is always for our good and his glory. At any point in time, He who is the Alpha and Omega sees the entire picture, while I only see a very small fragment. I will never fully understand how, but nothing catches our God by surprise because he sees it all and knows it all. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:6.
I don’t need to understand it all. My role is to trust that my Good Shepherd will lead me in the path of righteousness and that no matter how broken I am, he will restore my soul. In the midst of pain, it can be a struggle to even begin to think about restoration, especially when our wounds involve others, too, and not just ourselves. When we are hurting, it is hard to believe that healing can take place, even though that is what we ask for. Yet we cannot allow disbelief to take control. We need to trust our God who does not tire of mending the broken pieces of our hearts that we may become more like Christ in his humility. “In trial and weakness and trouble, he seeks to bring us low, until we so learn that his grace is all, as to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength made perfect in our weakness, his presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes a secret of a humility that need never fail.” Andrew Murray
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God promised to those who love him.”
Sitting still and being steadfast means we don’t put discipleship on hold while we are grieving. Our trials should intensify our training. We need more than ever to pray, to serve, dwell in his word and embrace his people. I also heard a preacher say that if our trials stem from having been wronged by others, we should all the more pursue the holiness that we long for in them. God’s work must continue through our pain and sorrow. The enemy will try to paralyze us but Jesus is at the helm and he will make us fishers of men (Mark 1:17) regardless of our circumstances.
Corrie Ten Boom once said, “When the train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
There is no need to fear. Our Father sees it all.