Sunday, September 13, 2009

When God Doesn't Behave

Yesterday evening, I finally succumbed to some sort of cold that I’ve been fighting since Thursday. So, instead of going AWOL for a week, with box of tissue in one hand, I want to share one lesson from the Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed study that God has been using to teach ME this week.

After finishing my master’s degree, I was hired by my alma matter to teach for the fall semester. But as Christmas approached, I discovered that my contract wouldn’t be renewed. Although I was more than disappointed, I quickly learned of a job opening at the nearby community college and, as expected, made it to the final interview with the Vice Chancellor—just me and another young man. Surely, I would get the job.

Then, I got the call and a sinking feeling in my chest as I listened to the words, “Not chosen.” I was officially unemployed. No salary. COBRA insurance that would run out all too quickly. And no prospects anytime in the near future since teachers are usually hired for January or August start dates.

Over the next couple months, I was rejected for countless jobs, most that required less education than I had, including Wal-mart. What was going on?!? Had I listened to God wrong when choosing my degree path? (No.) Was I being punished for some unrepented of sin? (No.) Then why wasn’t God getting me a job…now?

I was devastated. God was not behaving like I thought He should.

King David suffered a similar devastation with God acting differently than expected after he decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem . There, the ark would at all times be before the people of Israel as a tangible reminder of God’s presence resting between the cherubim.

Talk about a huge parade: 30,000 lyre-playing, cymbal-smashing, tambourine-shaking men celebrated as they followed the oxen-pulled cart that carried the ark. Then, the unthinkable happened—the oxen stumbled, a man named Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark, and God immediately struck him dead.

David became angry because of the LORD'S outburst against Uzzah…So David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, ‘How can the ark of the LORD come to me?’” (2 Sam. 6:8-9). Devastated, he refused to take the ark one step further and left it at Obed-edom’s house.

David was offended by God’s actions. And he was scared. This wasn’t the God David thought he knew. This was a fearful God of seemingly random judgment and death.

Yet God was the same as he’d always been. David just didn’t know very well the God he was serving, a righteous, holy God whose very character dictated that He demand reverence and whole-hearted obedience to His Word.

It took David three months to learn God’s reaction was as a result of his own disobedience in not seeking God’s law for instructions in how to transport the ark. And in the knowledge that God was still the same holy God he’d been serving all along, David finally brought the ark into the city of Jerusalem.

In a little different situation, John the Baptist was also devotedly serving God (no disobedience in sight), proclaiming the way of the Lord, when he was imprisoned. How devastating that must have been, to be doing exactly what God called him to do and to be left sitting in jail. He must have wondered why Jesus didn’t miraculously get him out!

In his devastation at where God had placed him, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, "’Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’" (Lk. 7:20). Jesus said to tell John of the miracles He was working and then stated, “’Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me’” (Lk. 7:23).

We all have the opportunity to be offended with God when He doesn’t act how we think He should. When we feel devastated or offended by God’s actions, we must return to our knowledge of who Scripture says God is. We must rest in the belief that He will always act according to who Scripture says He is, according to his full and complete character, not just part of his character...and that He will always act according to what He knows is best for us, our eternal salvation, and His glory.


  1. And therein lies the rub ... He will act according to His character. It's just that we don't always get the whole picture of Who that is. I know I don't. (And I'm sure by now you know that I don't.)

    We have to keep seeking Him out, knowing that His "failure" to meet my expectations or "behave appropriately" is a result of my not seeing the whole of Him.

    Thanks for the very good reminder to do that.

    (And praying you lick this thing and start feeling better.)

  2. Thank you, dear friend, for such powerful words. As I read them, I was moved with conviction, realizing the many times in my life when I have been offended by God's sovereignty.

    Amen to your truth! God is always God, and our worship of Him must be based on that fact! We worship Him because of who He is and His love for us, not for our image or ideal of what He should be for us.

    Thank you. May the Lord give me the grace to always stand in faith and love for Him. To look beyond my own heart's desire to His holiness.

    I hope you are feeling better. Please take care, and have a blessed Lord's Day.

    With His Love,