Sunday, December 30, 2012

What does God want?

Is this the right question to ask at the end of the year, or would it be better for the beginning of a new year?  At first glance, one would think that the question is best posed at the beginning of a new year, but it’s possible that the year that has passed may be more clearly seen with this question in mind.  I guess the timing isn’t as important as the answer itself.  But therein lay the dilemma, because try as we might, we’re not going to get a firm answer to this question.

One can state that what God wants is for us to do His will, and that would be a good answer.  However, that begs another question:  What is His will?  Now we can look at the Bible and get a pretty clear overview on what He wants, but when it’s all said and done, what does He want in regards to me?  Does he want me to be happy?  Oh boy, going down a very interesting path right now.  The Bible says He came to give life and more abundantly.  While life and certainly abundance is nice, does it necessarily equate to happiness?  All we need to do is look at some of the men of the Bible for an idea of what the answer may be.  Let’s look at Hosea, he was ordered to marry a prostitute so that he would know what God feels like.  How about Jonah?  Gets stuck in a storm, swallowed by a fish, and then has to watch his mortal enemies celebrate.  Paul?  Shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, whipped, among other things.  Can we honestly believe these men were happy?  They may have been at peace, they may have seen the big picture and realize that all that matters is what happens in eternity, and that would give a sense of comfort.  While being uncomfortable can cause one to be unhappy, the opposite is not necessarily true.  Just because someone is comfortable doesn’t mean they are happy. 

Is it safe to say that God is not overly concerned with our happiness?  Is it safe to say that He sees that all that matters is how happy we are in eternity?  That would be a tough statement to make because the question that leaps out would be to ask if that is true love.  The Bible talks about His unconditional love and how a fathers’ love for his child is nothing compared to His love for us.  I was recently asked what I did with the verses that talk about asking and receiving, and how He wouldn’t give us a stone when we asked for bread.  My reply was that I did ask, and did not receive.  My explanation went something like this:

There have been more righteous men, more spiritual men, men with purer motives who have gone through things and asked God to deliver them and were not delivered in the way that they hoped.  So who am I to expect God to come through for me in the way I would like?  As things fell apart all around me, I came to the conclusion that God was not going to come through in the way I expected no matter how much faith I had.  Now you may question my level of faith, but how much more faith do you need to put all your possessions on the line?  I was told that my relief, so to speak, did not come because I was not totally in His will.  This brings up something very disconcerting.  Must I be perfect to ask Him to help me carry out what I think His will is?  Obviously not, because no one is perfect, but how close to it must you be for Him to follow through on expectations He asked you to place on Him? 

You see how dangerous this road can get?  Let’s journey forward to see it get even more so.  We talked a bit of love, and a big question is that if God truly loves us, why would He allow us to suffer?  Now this is a different question than why God didn’t prevent this disaster or tragedy.  Obviously, there is free will, but this question is about someone who is believing God and doing everything he can to do His will, so why wouldn’t He answer?  It would be wrong to say that He enjoys our suffering, but what does one say when you know that God knows what’s going to happen and doesn’t prevent it?  To put it another way, you put everything on the line, your house, your things, your savings, and you say, “God, I’m doing this for you.  You will have to make things happen as I press forward.”  So, what do you do when He doesn’t come through?  Which begs an even bigger question, and this is where danger is at its highest.  If God, who knows everything that is going to happen, would let those who follow Him to suffer, why would He create anyone who He knows will reject Him and end up with eternal suffering? 

Athiests, for centuries, have tried to debunk the Bible, and many who have tried, came away as Christians.  Those who genuinely study it, even to try to find a flaw, come away with no valid argument against it.  One of my pastors likes to state that if you want to become very rich, find a flaw in the Bible, because nobody has been able to do so yet.  But perhaps it’s much simpler than that.  The last question posed in the previous paragraph focuses on His love.  The Bible says that He is love, but why would He create anyone that He knows will ultimately suffer for eternity?  How is that love?  Therein, if anything, lay the flaw.  How can that be answered?  Will this be one of those questions that the response is that it’s beyond our comprehension and that we will never understand here on earth, so just have faith and press on?  There seem to be to many of those, and yet, all we need to do is look around and notice the unending creativity the Creator has to understand how limited our thought capabilities are. 

Do you see how dangerous the road got?  We started with the question as to what God wants and we ended with exposing a possible flaw and debunking Christianity.  The fact of the matter is that I can’t answer any of those questions.  My closest guess to the last question is that those who will eternally suffer are those who ultimately don’t want to be with God.  Like the saying I heard from many friends when I was growing up:  Heaven sounds boring, I’d rather be in Hell where all the fun is.  Of course they are sorely mistaken, but if that is their choice, then they chose poorly.  I don’t know what God wants.  For me?  I don’t.  I thought I did, and perhaps the journey I’ve experienced is all in accordance with what He wants.  I’ve experienced loss, but really, who hasn’t?  And to be perfectly honest, with what I’ve gone through is nothing compared to millions and billions who are now suffering or have suffered in the past.  I guess when it all comes down to it, the closer you get to someone, the more you know their desires, their needs and their wants.  What does God want?  If I can’t answer that, then it’s highly probable that I need to get closer to Him to know that answer.