24 July 2012
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Noting a fender which had been damaged rather badly, I took a second look as I saw the words inscribed in a third‑class paint job which read, "THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT." I smiled as I read them, but as I thought about it, I could not help thinking that those words reflect an age‑old attitude which has been with us for a long time. We think, "If it is good, it is God; and if it is bad, it’s the devil." I think the enemy gets a lot of credit for things that he does not really deserve, and at the same time, I am not at all sure that God gets His due recognition at times.
How do you know whether it is God, the devil, or just circumstances when something happens? If it is bad and unpleasant, is it the consequence of God's judgment, or an attack from the adversary?
As Vance Havner wrote following the death of his sweet wife, "Sometimes when trouble hits you real hard, it is tough to determine whether it is divine chastisement or a devilish attack." Havner was describing his reactions to the death of his wife, who had been his constant companion for thirty‑three years. He described the five months when she lay dying as the darkest of his life. He said, "For me this meant five months by a hospital bed of a dying wife who was wasting away with a disease I had never heard of, her loveliness distorted and disfigured. Even her personality changed...."
Then said Havner, "I do not understand some of the things we went through. There were a lot of things I do not have any clever answer for. When I meet some brother who has quick answers for some of these problems, I say, ‘Brother, bless your heart; you are not for me, you know too much.' So even though I do not understand some things, I still accept them. I agree with C. H. Spurgeon's comment that 'when we cannot trace God's hand we can always trust God's heart.'"
Havner, along with a host of others who have faced the crucible of experience, had come to conclude that at times we do not have all the answers as to WHY some things happen to us. Nonetheless, we must continue to trust God and to walk by faith, confident that a loving Heavenly Father yet controls our lives and destinies.
When Paul Little was prematurely taken as the result of an automobile accident, many asked why the director of a world‑wide organization known as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship should have his life tragically cut short when others far less deserving should be spared? Only months before his death Little wrote that the ultimate question which must be faced is the matter of God's goodness. If God is good, as the Bible declares, then we can trust God in the face of difficult circumstances.
Paul Meyers, who was known to many as First Mate Bob of the Haven of Rest radio program, used to tell the story of a little boy who comes to his father with a broken toy and says, "Daddy, why does my toy not work?" The father looks at his toy and sees what the problem is. He could tell him why the toy is broken and will not properly function, but the little boy is too young to understand the technical reasons or explanation for the problem. Rather the father knows that his love for the little guy is more important than an explanation he could not understand. So he picks him up in his arms and wipes the tears from his eyes and says, "Don’t worry about the toy. Daddy loves you and everything will be all right."
There are times when we can go far astray looking for explanations. Instead, pause and feel a Father's love and hear His voice saying, "Trust me...for all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (see Romans 8:28). Do not credit the devil, or blame God, either. Realize that if you are His child God works all things after the fashion of His will (Ephesians 1:11). It is the upward look that gives strength when trouble strikes.
Resource reading: Ephesians 1.