What can we do when it seems that God has failed us? When our loved ones are afflicted and die long before their time? When God could easily heal a faithful servant and doesn’t? Even when he allows them to commit suicide? When we these kinds of things happening, we feel betrayed and wonder whether we can really trust this God.
It might surprise you to learn that even the Saints of Israel had a problem with God. The Psalmist complained that God had betrayed the covenant He had made with David:
- But you [God] have rejected, you have spurned, you have been very angry with your anointed one [David]. You have renounced the covenant with your servant and have defiled his crown in the dust. You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins… O Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David? (Psalm 89:38-40)
Another Psalmist complained that it was useless to serve God, seeing that the unrighteous thrived better than the righteous:
- Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (Psalm 73:13)
Of course, Job, after losing everything, had his own complaints against God:
- "Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. It is all the same; that is why I say, 'He [God] destroys both the blameless and the wicked.' When a scourge brings sudden death, he [God] mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he [God] blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?” (Job 9:21-24)
From the narrow vantage point of his experience, it seemed that God acts unjustly in every way:
- All was well with me, but he [God] shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; his archers surround me. Without pity, he [God] pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior…yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure. (Job 16:12-17)
From Job’s limited perspective, he was sure that he didn’t deserve the way that God had treated him. Instead, he was sure that God was guilty of unfaithfulness. However, Job placed too much trust in his own thinking. This became clear to him after God had revealed Himself and asked Job a long series of questions that Job couldn’t even begin to answer.
Job got the point. If he couldn’t answer one of these easy questions, how could he bring charges against God! Consequently, Job repented:
- "I am unworthy (“vile” NKJV)--how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer--twice, but I will say no more." (Job 40:4-5)
- “You [God] asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:3-6)
The Psalmist had placed too much trust in his understanding, in the limited spectrum of life that he was able to observe. However, God had given him a revelation that changed all that:
- But when I thought how to understand this [the flourishing of the unrighteous], it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17)
God had enabled the Psalmist to see the big picture, and he was mightily blessed:
- When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:21-26)
However, the Psalmist of Psalm 89, who had accused God of renouncing His covenant with David, didn’t receive an answer, at least as far as we know. After unloading on God, he nevertheless concludes the Psalm:
- Lord, where is your
steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?...
Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen. (Psalm 89:49, 52)
Although sorely disappointed, the Psalmist’s only hope remained with the Lord. He therefore blessed Him, refusing to place his trust in his own understanding.
Discouragement is the lot of God’s servants. There are going to be times when His ways do not make any sense to us. However, the wise servant will not place too much trust in what he sees and understands. Perhaps we trust too much in our wisdom, and perhaps our trust in misplaced. Perhaps we just need to reaffirm our trust in a God who alone is our hope, knowing that there will be times when understanding will surely fail us.