The Strange Ways of God

Chaos reigns in our country and our world. We close our doors, pull the shades, and cloister inside. But we find no refuge there, because the troubles outside our doors are compounded by the troubles inside.

God’s people search for answers but they don’t come easily. External evidence suggests that God is not working:
• we can’t see him doing anything
• we don’t notice any change from our fervent prayers
• circumstances are getting worse—not better
God appears to be uninvolved and unconcerned.

The strange ways of God confound us—he doesn’t act like we would.

Frustration mounts as we try to understand what God is up to, using human logic as our guide. We would never allow our children to suffer if it was in our power to intervene. We would say yes to desperate prayers if we were in charge. We would not reward the faithless and silence the faithful. We would not leave this hurting world in limbo—we would fix it now, and not delay.

The strange ways of God confound us—he doesn’t act like we would.

Have we not learned by now that our God cannot be understood by human reasoning? His ways are counter-intuitive. They defy the laws of logic. He is a peculiar God who stays true to himself and does not bend to outside pressure. He has told us:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth
So are my ways higher than your ways
And my thoughts than your thoughts. Is 55:10?

In God’s grand narrative, what has he shown us about his ways?
• The progenitors of the human family, Adam & Eve, led the entire world into sin. God could have put the fruit on higher branches. He could have put a fence around the tree. He didn’t.
• There were two brothers, Cain and Abel. One lived pleasing to God; one lived to please himself. God could have protected the good one from being murdered by his evil brother. He didn’t.
• God sent Moses back to Egypt to rescue his suffering people. When Pharaoh was told the plan, he doubled their labor and compounded their woes. God could have let them escape on day one. He didn’t.
• Two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, were rewarded with entrance into the promise land, but they were not spared the 40-year wilderness wandering. They got the same sentence as the grumblers. God could have come up with a different plan. He didn’t.
• Throughout the history of Israel, God raised up leaders to deliver and shepherd his people. Gideon began well but ended poorly. Samson was a pathetic figure that God chose anyway. King Saul ended up a huge disappointment. David, the man after God’s own heart, gave in to his flesh, and tarnished his legacy. The vast majority of kings who ruled over Israel and Judah were wicked. We would not have voted for these unworthy men, nor given them positions of leadership. But God did.

The strange ways of God confound us—he doesn’t act like we would.

So what do we do when we can’t reconcile our loving and wise God, with the mess we see in our world? A few thoughts:

• Don’t dismiss the mysterious ways of God—submit to them.
• Don’t question his motives? We don’t need more proof than the cross that he loves us. In fact, he loves us too much to give in to desperate prayers that would compromise our ultimate good.
• Trust his wisdom. He does things we would not do, because he sees what we can’t see. He is far too wise to alter his perfect plan for a lesser one.
• Change your prayers. Don’t ask, “Why are you not working?” Ask instead, “How can I partner with you in your work? Show me how to serve your grand purpose.”

I don’t know what you are going through today. The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways. Are you struggling with a depleted savings account, or an insecure job, debilitating health, or an un-reconciled relationship? Are you wringing your hands and pacing the floor over the election? Have you been crying out to God and wondering why his answer seems delayed?

We cannot understand our inexplicable God by looking inside ourselves. We must go to the Word of God and observe what he reveals to us there.
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

I’d love to hear from you. Let’s encourage one another in these challenging days.

10 comments to The Strange Ways of God

  • Richie Malone

    What a good reminder, Janet, to look heavenward and trust in the One who sees all.

    • The blog comes out of some of my own frustrations of wanting God to do something (as if he were not doing anything). My heart always settles back down when I return to the truth he has shown me in the Word. God is not like we are. And aren’t we glad?

  • Chéríe

    Thank you Janet. Memorized scripture can save our sanity when our feelings get in the way. I keep going back to what is etched in my brain about the holy, righteous, and sovereign Creator of the universe.
    An hour later, I have to do the same thing, because my human heart is prone to wander
    and WORRY.
    My family has been reading 2-3 chapters out loud each night after we pray. We do one verse at a time, taking turns clockwise.
    National uncertainty is scary. Our family however, is facing a serious personal uncertainty and scripture is the medicine our souls and our hearts need desperately.

    • Oh Cherie, My heart hurts for your family and what you are going through. Once again I do not understand why God has not answered all of the prayers that have been prayed on your behalf. But…if we knew the answer to every question, we would not need faith. Please don’t give up hope. The Lord will answer when he is ready.

  • Carmen Cole

    Thank you for sharing that God is always still in control and we are not. This is when we decide if we really, really trust Him. I keep reminding myself that God sets up kings and takes them down. We certainly don’t understand what all is happening, but we can keep our eyes on Jesus and get through whatever we have to deal with. “His eyes are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayers” 1 Peter Thank you Janet.

    • Thank you Carmen for reminding us that God is watching and listening. And we can trust him. Let’s keep encouraging the flock to not lose heart.

  • Susan M,

    Thank you for this reminder that God is God—and that He sees things that we have no idea about. I am so glad that He hasn’t given up on me!

    • Hi Susan, These are times when we must stay in God’s Word. Otherwise we will begin to believe what we see with our eyes, instead of what we know to be true. We’re all vulnerable to that.

  • Laurel M

    “How can I partner with You in Your work”! This is so key. I need to get my focus off me and ask Him what He wants me to be doing. He always has a plan and we see it over and over. Thanks for these great reminders Janet!