A high school friend of mine recently was interviewing me for a college project, in which I was to explain why or why not I disagreed with a religious theory, or how I would answer an essentially unanswerable question. It really pushed me to not only defend my God for who He says He is, but also to figure out where I stood on things I really hadn’t figured out before if I’m being honest. For example, one question/theory involved me explaining where I believed pain and suffering comes from. My answer was that it comes from the devil/demons, OR from your own consequences that you bring on by sinning. I also stated that I believe that God is of course in full control, but is the highest good. Therefore, He cannot create evil, pain or suffering, but He can allow it to happen. The devil is beneath God. The devil cannot do anything without God’s permission. I was asked why I believed He allowed it to happen, and I answered that any growth or good thing I’ve ever had was born out of hardship and trial. He allows suffering to happen, because it produces maturity, growth and blessing. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4. I also think that pain can bring you closer to Him, and remind you of your dependency on Him. I am guilty of and experiencing that myself right now. When things are going great, I admit that I am not as hurried to be in the Word or to pray. When life is falling apart, I’m pretty quick to pray, be in the Word and cling to Him, because I have to. It’s a flaw that I am working on, but I know that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and that He has allowed me to be in trials in order to draw me closer and remind me of who He is and who I am. Back to the interview- I was then asked one of those “unanswerable” questions that I had thought of before, never figured out and honestly just ignored.
“If you say that God allows evil/pain/suffering to occur for His purpose, how could He allow something like the Holocaust to happen? What good came out of that?”
Oh, man. I really was forced to stop and finally figure out an answer for this question. It took some babbling and crazy talk, but what I finally came to was this: simple, yet complicated: I don’t know, and I don’t understand. But, I do know who my God is- good, and that His thoughts and ways are so above me that I couldn’t comprehend them even if I tried. Though I don’t understand why He would allow things that seemingly have no good come out of them, My God is always good and just. He is good and just throughout the Bible, and is good and just throughout my life. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I trust and have faith that even if I couldn’t possibly understand, I know He does all things intentionally according to His plan and just purpose. This is not different just because I can’t understand it. That is the definition of faith, isn’t it? Trusting that He is good when you do not understand?
That is the answer I have come to- and it is ultimately just a surrender that I should’ve come to sooner, knowing who God is and that my life is His. As Christians, we are expected to know and explain everything sometimes by those who aren’t believers (or even those who are!). On the contrary, being Christian means that you DON’T understand everything- but you know that He DOES, so you surrender your lack of understanding and control to Him. You give up yourself, submitting to His control and understanding. This requires faith. Even if you don’t understand or have control over something horrific like the Holocaust, creation of lucifer, or even day to day sufferings- you trust His understanding and control of the situation and follow Him regardless. Understanding and control are hard things to give up! When you can’t control how you do something, react to something, or how something turns out, that can be terrifying. When you have to do something without understanding how to do it, why you’re doing it or what effects doing it may have, that can be terrifying. It’s all a part of being a follower of Christ. When you give your life to Him you make a decision to give up control and understanding, because you have decided that His understanding and control are better than yours, and you would rather your life in His hands than your own.
I think a lot of us (me included) have become Christians and “given our life to Him” without actually giving those things to Him. Or maybe, we have surrendered the small stuff that we can understand or the small stuff we feel like we can still control- but haven’t actually surrendered the big stuff we don’t understand or can’t control to Him.
Why is it that the bigger the thing is we have to surrender, the more we don’t want to surrender it to Him? Is He only capable of handling the little things? Are the big things too much for Him to handle? Is He going to take the big things after you surrender them, and then accidentally mess them up for you? No. Then why are we afraid of surrendering the big things? Why do we let the size of our problem limit the size of our God?
The truth is that the bigger it is, the more afraid we are to let go of it. It should be the opposite! The bigger a problem is, the more we should be shoving it up to God, like, “I’m surrendering this for SURE! I want the little things in Your hands, but I ESPECIALLY want this big thing in Your hands, because only YOU can take care of it!”
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t surrendering up one of those big things up to God lately. One of the worst things to not surrender up: fighting and defeating sin. The enemy kept telling me that I needed to defeat sin by myself, on my own, or else I didn’t really defeat it. I should’ve known better, but I didn’t, and now you all can learn from it. Praise God.
Me trying to face and fight sin on my own ultimately led me to falling into it more, because I am not designed to face and conquer sin on my own. I am designed to be led by my creator in all things, and the battle against sin is certainly one of them. I went against my design, which is what caused me to fail. The enemy would tell me that it was my sin, and my responsibility to take care of and win over once and for all. That if God did it for me, then I really didn’t defeat the sin. The devil telling me this not only led me to fail fighting falling into sin, but also to drifting from God entirely. He knew what he was doing. I felt like I had to fix the sin before I could go back to God, which left me in a vicious cycle. I eventually realized that I am not designed to carry the weight of conquering sin on my own. It is a team effort. I had the greatest of all time player on my team and at the big game I decided to bench Him. Doesn’t that sound insane?? This is what we look like when it gets to be a big issue in our lives that we THEN decide to not surrender it to God. Why would we bench our MVP at the harder bigger games, just because we felt like if He was the only reason we win our games, that we weren’t REALLY winning them. Guess what? God IS the only reason I win my games. I COULDN’T win the game without Him. I am nothing without Him! And I don’t care! With Him on my team, we will win every single game. Don’t let the devil convince you other wise. Surrender that you can’t do it without Him. Or on the other hand, the devil could make you feel anxious about the bigger harder games, causing you to bench your MVP because you are scared to surrender the control of that big hard game to your MVP. Doesn’t that also sound crazy? Don’t let the devil trick you- your MVP, God, is the ONLY person you want playing in that big game (the big issues in your life).
I also know that the world’s new big push is to make everyone believe that: YOU are worthy. YOU are enough. Follow YOUR heart. You should do what makes YOU happy and filled. This new message is so full of “YOU” that it is Godless. It is teaching that we alone are good, worthy, enough. Goodness, worthiness and being enough isn’t somewhere within the depths of our human souls if you search hard enough to find yourself. Goodness, worthiness and being enough is blatant at the surface of the Holy Spirit and Jesus blood. The truth that no one wants to hear is that: You AREN’T worthy- but God is, and He covered your sins with Jesus’ blood, and by becoming His child, you are made worthy only by His loving sacrifice. You AREN’T enough- but Jesus is, and He died for you, which was enough to cover you and your sins. You SHOULDN’T follow your own heart- we should only be after God’s heart. You SHOULDN’T do whatever makes you happy and filled- because human nature is to make ourselves happy and filled with worldly things and sin. This never fills anyone up or makes anyone happy, leaving us in a structure that is like pouring water into a bowl with a hole at its bottom. Worldly things give you a temporary “fill” and false happiness, but it will leak out though that hole every single time. You will find yourself empty again. You will feel you have to keep pouring worldly things in constantly so that you feel that false and temporary “full”. Having a relationship with God is pouring concrete into that bowl, filling the hole, hardening into a permanent fullness that you will never have to refill again while in relationship with Him. His relationship entails His Spirit, His word and His presence in you, a temple of His. These things will never leave you hungry. These “you are worthy/enough” statements are creating mindsets in people that lead to the leaky bowl situation. These statements are also what satan used to tell me that I was the only one who could defeat my sin if I wanted to truly conquer it. He made me feel like I could be enough to defeat my sin, and I wasn’t. It lead me into sin more, which was the devil’s ultimate plan with these “you” statements. Only He is enough. Only He is worthy. The only reason we are worthy and enough are because His worthiness clothes us and becomes us as His son or daughter.
Our faith is often described as “trusting” God, but it is also largely surrendering and submitting to God. We as His followers need to surrender all control and understanding to Him in order to actually follow Him where He calls us. Giving our life to Him means giving all of it. The only worthiness we can walk in is His worthiness, not our own.
“That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10 NKJV