I was scheduled to host a seminar for the ladies of BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) at the Naval Academy this April. Due to the coronavirus, this trip has been cancelled but I intend to share some of the content that I was preparing for this seminar, with you all, on the blog! My theme for the seminar was going to be “combating lies from the devil with the Gospel.” For the next couple of entries, I intend to state a lie that I have believed and how the Lord has used the Gospel to expose this lie. I would like to say a special thank you to my three pastors, Tim, Wes, and Josh, who have worked with me on this content and guided me as I strive to, through the power of the Holy Spirit, achieve my goal:
“I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1
Lie #1: Because God has not answered all of my questions, it is illogical for me to trust Him.
Right now I find myself completely overwhelmed by questions. I am sure many of you can relate when I ask God – “how long will the coronavirus plague this world, how will it impact my loved ones, why is God allowing this to happen?” I find that the “peace that surpasses all understanding” that is promised for those who pray and draw near to the Lord (Philippians 4:6-7) seems to elude me despite how much I pray and how much I beg God. During these unsettling times, I need the peace and joy that transcends my circumstances: the joy that the saints speak of as they are imprisoned for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ! But just as badly as I desire this peace, I also desire for my questions to be answered by God. In fact, if I am honest with myself, my peace is DEPENDENT on God giving me answers. Because if I have all of the answers, then I am in control. And there is no reason for me to need to trust or be dependent upon anyone…
Some of these questions have gone unanswered for longer than others, but they all culminate, leaving me desperate for answers and causing me to struggle to trust God when He is silent. Some of my questions, in no particular order, include:
- When will my husband return from deployment?
- Will God save everyone that I love here on Earth?
- What career should I pursue now that I am out of the Navy?
- When should we have kids? When will I feel ready (or will I ever feel ready)?
- How can God be sovereign over all things but still hold humans accountable for their own sin?
- Will I ever be free from depression?
- Why did that baby have to die?
As I reflect on my life to this point, I have always had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I love school and I was always that obnoxious student who asked a million questions during class because I was not just satisfied with learning the right answer but I wanted to the know the Why’s? and the How’s? I look to specialists in their fields, medical doctors or PhD scholars or military officers who have been in the Navy for 30+ years. But do these highly educated and experienced people really have all of the answers? I am reminded of a quote from “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken: “The non-scientists say, well, we don’t know the answers, but the scientists do, and the scientists who are not physicists say, well, we don’t know the answers either, but the physicists do; and the physicists know that they do not, in fact, have the ultimate answers and, accordingly, turn to Christ who does.”
More often than I look to others, I look to myself for answers…
I am quick to form an opinion on someone after I meet them one time, I am prepared to support a political candidate just because of the party they are associated with, I am tempted to put down a book if I am not convinced by the end of the first chapter. I am constantly forming beliefs and making judgments based on insufficient information. And even though I can look back in my life and see how terribly wrong things went when I relied upon my own judgement, my flesh persuades me to trust myself and that I can find the answers by my own strength or through my own mind.
Yet, with God it is different. Why do I make such demands upon Him for answers when my standards for truth and knowledge are so low for all other people, especially for myself?
The devil is DECEIVING me when he plants seeds of doubt and mistrust of God among the chaos of my unanswered questions. The idea that because God does not answer all of my questions now, he is not trustworthy, is a LIE. In fact, what is MOST LOGICAL is to trust in a God who proves his love for sinners like me, over and over, through the Gospel –
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
We are such a privileged generation to have the Gospel! The cross reminds us of why God is worthy of our trust. Though God, as our Creator, had nothing to prove to us, his creation, He quieted any doubts that we may have about if He loves us by sending His Son to die on a cross for our sin. He does not promise us answers, but His promises are better than the answers to all of our questions. He promises us fellowship with Him, forever, through the blood of Jesus. He gives us the Holy Spirit to be our great helper, and He creates the church with Christ at the head, to bring unity to a dissonant and distrusting people so that we can remind each other of the truth in Christ, despite our unanswered questions. Finally, through Scripture, we have all of the answers that we NEED in this life. Maybe not all of the answers that we want, but all that we need. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). God has gifted us, through the Gospel (the “knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence) with ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness! Incredible!
It is illogical to trust in my own strength, my own understanding, my own feelings – how often has my heart deceived me and led me astray? How often has my own intelligence led me to fall short, how often have my feelings directly contradicted what I know to be true? No, devil. I am calling out your lie. It is illogical to trust myself and the things of this earth that are passing away… the grass withers and the flowers fall, the mountains are thrown into the sea, nations rage, sickness spreads. But I will cling to the truth – my God is worthy of my trust and it is only when I draw near to Him, that I will find a “peace that transcends all understanding” that my heart so desires.
God, please humble me. I am no wiser than Isaiah who proclaimed that “so as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are your ways higher than my ways and your thoughts are higher than my thoughts” (Isa 55:9), nor more discerning than Paul who declares “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:33). I am not the judge nor am I the Creator. Help me to stop trying to be God by demanding all of the answers. Thank you that you love me so much that you sent your only son to die on a cross, so that in my moments of doubt and confusion, I can know for certain that you love me and that you have a perfect plan for me. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, help me to call out the devil and his lie that peace can only be found through the answers to all of my questions. Protect me, shelter me, keep me close to you until the day when I shall see you face to face and all will be made clear.