Confident When We Don't Understand - A Series on Confidence, Part 20

God doesn't play by the world's rules.-2.jpg

Wouldn't it be easier to trust God and follow His commands if we could see the outcome?  Let's face it, God's directions don't always make sense to us, do they?  Like when He told me to leave my teaching job to go into a full-time writing ministry.  Or when He convinced me to agree to speak in another country when I didn't have the funds and really wasn't sure how willing I was to leave my comfort zone. Yes, it seems to me that if we could see the other side of our decisions, it would make them much easier.  But that wouldn't be faith, would it?

God made Abraham a promise, a covenant that must have sounded absurd to a 75-year-old man.  God promised to make him the father of many nations.  He told how Abraham's family would extend to be more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore.  A mighty claim to a man who had no children and, in his old age, probably had no hope of ever having children.  Five years passed, but God's promise was not fulfilled.  And then ten years.  And then fifteen.  If I had been Abraham, I would have begun to doubt, but God kept reassuring him that His promise would come to pass.  Finally, twenty-five years after first declaring His promise, God gave Abraham the promised son, Isaac.

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
— Romans 4:16-21

My, oh my, how I love those verses!  Notice a few of those phrases:  

"who against hope believed in hope,"

"being not weak in faith,"

"he staggered not at the promise of God,"

"strong in faith,"

"fully persuaded"  

We could summarize all of those statements into a single sentence:  Abraham was confident that God would do what He said He would do even when it didn't make sense.  There was no way Abraham could understand how God would give them a son at such an old age.  It seemed impossible.  That wasn't the way the world worked.  Surely, God knew that, right?  But God doesn't play by the world's rules; He makes His own.  And the sooner we realize that, the better off we'll be.

The world system says if we're struggling financially, we should hold back our tithe and refrain from giving to others.  But God says, if we'll be faithful to give, He'll give back to us.

The world system says if we set goals and have a plan, we cannot fail.  But God says, if we'll submit to His plan despite how impossible things look, we cannot fail.

It's so easy to argue, "Well, sure, I'd like to be confident in God, but how can I be?  How can I trust Him with my life when I don't see Him working or don't understand what I'm seeing?  How can I know He's not making things worse?  How can I trust Him when everything around me is falling apart, when I bounce from one catastrophe to the next?  How can I trust what I don't know?"

It's not about trusting the what.  It's about trusting the Who.  We view Abraham as a spiritual giant, and I agree, he was a remarkable man, but he was just that--a man.  He was no different than we are.  He had faults and failures.  He made mistakes.  And we know that, at least at one point during his wait, he grew impatient and tried to "help God out" by having a son with Sarah's handmaid.  Abraham wasn't perfect, but he is an example to us of what is possible.  He proves to us that it is possible to be confident in God even when we don't understand what He's doing, when the wait grows long, or when we simply don't see Him working at all.  Against all hope, we can have hope.  We can be strong in the faith and stagger not at God's promises.  How?  By placing our trust in the One who made those promises to begin with.

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
— Deuteronomy 7:9

There are a lot of promises in the Bible, and all of them have come to pass or will come to pass.  God keeps His word.  If He said it, we can believe it.  The promise may not come to fruition today, next week, or even next year, but we can trust that the God who sees the whole picture will bring things about in His perfect timing.  And that timing, while we may not understand it now, will make sense one day.

Confidence in God doesn't mean we understand everything He's doing.  Confidence in God means we continue to trust that He is working for our good even when there is sufficient evidence to the contrary.  Confidence is standing strong against all odds, hoping against hope.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
— Numbers 23:19
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
— II Peter 3:9