When God Seems Hard

When we are honest about our innermost thoughts, we must admit that there are times that God appears to be hard. His will on a particular issue may seem to be overly restrictive. His response to a believer’s prayer may not seem to have been a loving response. It’s actually a common event among people: God’s ways occasionally don’t meet our expectations. When this happens, how do we keep from abandoning our faith?
Abraham gave an example of how to respond to less-than-delightful experiences with the Lord. In Genesis 18 God announced his decision to annihilate the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham couldn’t reconcile this decision with the possibility that there might be innocent victims. Here’s how Abraham was able to hang on to his faith: “Far be it from you to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from you! Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Abraham was convinced that God’s will is always right, even when it may not appear so to humans.
Habakkuk was another who demonstrated stubborn faith in a time of confusion. God had declared his intent to use the Babylonian nation as an instrument of punishment upon Judah. The prophet was stunned by the announcement; Babylon was far more wicked than Judah. How could God do such a thing? Here’s Habakkuk’s perspective that enabled him to weather the storm: “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer when I am reproved” (Habakkuk 2:1). Habakkuk, though genuinely questioning God’s will, believed God would eventually help him to see things more clearly. His patience was based on this.
Peter’s example is also helpful. Jesus had said scandalous things; he taught that people must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they wished to have eternal life. The effect of such words is not hard to understand: “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more” (John 6:66). Why didn’t Peter and the other apostles do the same? “Then Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Peter, though also struggling with the Lord’s statements, recognized that the world offered no reasonable alternative. Only God can provide eternal life.
These examples are instructive. They help us understand that God doesn’t always make immediate sense to human wisdom. More importantly, they help us see that people can endure such times — if they exercise their faith and trust in the goodness of God’s will.
Like Jacob of old (see Genesis 32), we may also have to wrestle with God and his will. The encounter may leave us limping. But in the end, those who tenaciously cling to their faith will receive a blessing from God.

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